Seiko Alpinist: The Best Japanese Rolex Explorer? SPB123 Watch Review

Today we revisit a true Gentry classic – the beloved and highly important Seiko Alpinist. But this is no ordinary Alpinist! This is the latest generation with some surprising new upgrades. As this is such a cult watch amongst the Gentry audience and the wider Seiko loving watch community, it was only right for me to go old school with a traditional in-depth, desktop, hands-on review.

Join me to find out what is so special about this latest incarnation, including its history, improvements, and negatives. Is it worth the new hike in price? Why is it such an important watch to Seiko and to fans of the Alpinist line? Why has it earned the nickname “Japanese Rolex Explorer”? Is it still the best automatic field watch under $500? Find out answers to all that and more as we take a look at the legendary SBDC093.

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42 thoughts on “Seiko Alpinist: The Best Japanese Rolex Explorer? SPB123 Watch Review

  1. Great production – loved the Japanese art in the background. Mate (Sir?), you do a proper (fine) job! Now, the watch. Gotta love the Alpinist. But…The… X… NOOOOOOO!!!!! Yes (before I get rolled) I know its a P/S. So what? Still a hideous carbuncle on the face of all Prospex watches. Makes them look like crappy games consoles or a '90s snowboard. Seiko does not need to do this.

  2. Just got one in champagne dial absolutely mesmerising watch just love it. I do not necessarily share urban gentry’s view I think this is surely the best Alpinist and is sure a big step up from the previous model which also I own. Believe me you have to see it to believe how beautiful this watch is. Video will not do the justice to its beauty just see it in real avataar and I am sure most will surely appreciate it

  3. I wish Seiko would revert back to the simple, clean design of the original Alpinists. Get rid of the inner rotating bezel, offer a no-date version, and we'd have a knockout. Oh, and keep it between 38-40mm. That bezel misalignment is shameful for a brand, and culture, that prides itself in aiming for perfection.

  4. Incredible value given the finishing on the case and dial. Just can't decide between the cream or green dials.

  5. I love the production of the video, just chilling in my apt checking out some pictures and looking through my telescope onto the street…

  6. I have the sarb017 and I have the new cream with silver indices model. They both wear slightly different but are both absolutely stunning pieces. I am in love with both and often feel guilty on the one I choose not to wear that day lol. Great video Sir.

  7. Just my thoughts on the Alpinist: The green speaks nature and it's beautiful; the ease of action on the compass crown is because you constantly need to use it with gloves on; the cream dial is magnificent; losing the signed crown is bullshit; the movement is definitely an upgrade; it's not worth the price.

  8. Just a quick clarification – the new Alpinist is no larger than the old one in any dimension except thickness. Marc at Long Island Watch has a side-by-side comparison demonstrating this. The SARB017 was widely mislabeled as 38mm or 38.5mm, but it is the same width as the new 2020 models.

  9. The cyclops looks like a wart, why oh why?! They spoil every Rolex that has one too. The only one that looks okay is on the Mini-T because it's small and round. it's all in the symmetry. Has it lost the lovely domed lume pips too? And that infamous compass ring, on my SARB017 I don't bother where it is anymore, North does not have to be parked at 12 0'clock. In use it can be anywhere around the dial depending where the sun is in the sky. At that point it just blends into the overall aesthetic and you enjoy more all the lovely details of this gorgeous and distinctive watch. Prefer the green and gold, they just play beautifully with the light. Like you say it doesn't need an exhibition caseback either. The old simple and slimmer polished/brushed caseback was just right. Plus the increase in size and loss of signed crown means I'll stick with the SARBY!

  10. I got the SPB119 and love it. Yes, it’s not perfect but I can barely see the misalignment on the compass with my naked eyes. It only runs about 5 seconds slow each day. I think it was well worth the price. Looks great too.

  11. The thing that irks me the most is that there's no 'Alpinist' branding (the word or even the mountain logo) anywhere on the watch… Can you even still call it an Alpinist at that point?

  12. If Seiko are going to take the brand more midrange and charge more, they need to rectify the QC issues such as misalignments. I’m willing to put up with it in the $300-$450 range, but not $500 and above.

  13. put grand seiko quality in this dial and case and a spring drive movement and they couldn't sell enough of these. Yes it would be more expensive but worth it!

  14. Just put my 2020 Alpinist cream/silver on a Strap Code super oyster, the black leather is very nice but obviously not as versitle as the bracelet.

    In comparison to the older alpinist yes, hard to justify the price but when you look at other watches in the £500-£700 price range then you really can't complain, yes the Hamilton is the obvious choice but IMO the Alpinist is better👑

    Cyclops, unsigned crown were certainly not deal breakers, this watch is just superb👌

  15. 14:35 twitch twitch
    Thousand bucks for misaligned markers? No, thanks.
    16:27 Agreed. Distinguish the 12 o'clock marker from the other eleven.
    Thank you for the review. I did look at this piece recently but I was able to walk away.

  16. I’ve enjoyed my Hamilton Khaki Field King as an actual field watch, but I might be looking to get an Alpinist for the refined look and finer features.

  17. Actually like the dial color and accents. Can't say I'm a fan of the Prospex emblem though. Might've been too spoiled by the SARB017 😁

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