Released to meet the specific needs of mountain climbers and recreational field sports enthusiasts, the 1959 Seiko Alpinist (Seiko Laurel branded at the time) remains a landmark achievement for Seiko and their Prospex collection.
The piece was, after all, the first time the legendary Japanese watchmaker produced a watch with sports in mind, pushing the brand down a path that has since seen the development of countless timepieces and timing devices for sports-minded wearers.
Such a trailblazing timepiece would of course be held in high esteem by fans of the brand, given the 1959 Seiko Alpinist proved so popular that it easily stretched far beyond the Japanese market for which it was intended.
It has since become a highly sought piece for collectors, which is why the brand has revisited the classic timepiece and resurrected it with a high-functioning and faithful re-creation that characterises the very same collection that it founded all those decades ago.
To understand how groundbreaking the Seiko Alpinist was for the brand in 1959, you have to take your mind back to that era of horology. This was a significant move from the brand, marking the watchmaker’s very first entry into the growing sports watch arena with a watch that was specifically designed with form and function in mind, as well as water resistance, with its secure screw down crown.
The mid-century Seiko Alpinist had a screw-back case to prevent dust or sand particles from entering the case – just one of the numerous security-minded details that aligned with the outdoors lifestyle. The leather cuff band was included to protect from perspiration, with the indexes, hour, and minute hands all had luminous inserts to maintain legibility in the dark.
Even the name itself was a heady nod in the direction of outdoors enthusiasts, mirrored in the design with mountain-shaped markers at the three, six, nine, and twelve o’clock positions. This very specific detail also represented the four main points on a rotating compass, specially designed so the time could be read safely and correctly at any angle.
That’s because many of Seiko’s subsequent sports watches adopted the key feature as a standard, also on a rotating compass.
This brand new recreation is a painstakingly detailed yet modern perspective on the 1959 Alpinist. Similarly, the generously sized markers so key to the heritage model are set against a glossy black dial, while minute markers form an inner-ring on the dial base. Another carry over is the Lumibrite used to help the indexes and hour and minute hands maintain legibility at night.
Continuing to mull over the faithful recreation, you’ll find that the glass is a box-shaped sapphire crystal, made to mirror the gentle feel of the primordial watch’s defining domed glass.
The Seiko Prospex The 1959 Alpinist Re-creation is presented on a strap that has the exact same jagged stitch design as the original.
However, it’s not all just a mirror image of the classic. Technology and high specifications have been rethought and pushed up to modern standards. The watch now has a date window between four and five o’clock and features water resistance to 10 bar.
There’s also anti-reflected coating on the inner surface of that box-shaped sapphire crystal, while underneath it all is a hard-working slimline Calibre 6L35, which has 45 hours of power reserve.
Despite all those tweaks, the case diameter is just 1.0mm thicker.
The Seiko Prospex The 1959 Alpinist Re-creation is not all the brand has in store to celebrate the legacy of their first sports watch. In addition to the limited edition piece, there are now three other watches which also pay homage to the 1959 Alpinist in their own ways.
The 1959 watch’s distinctive design has also been mirrored in with these modern re-interpretation models in a stainless steel case, which are all powered by the brand’s 6R35 movement with date display and 70 hours of power reserve. All of these 39mm watches are resistant to 20 bar and each feature a curved sapphire crystal. Two of them – the grey and silver-cream options – are offered on stainless steel bracelets, though the green dial version stands on its own with a leather strap.
Three new Alpinist recreation models for the Prospex Collection
The 1959 Alpinist Re-creation will be a strictly limited edition, with only 1,959 pieces made for the brand’s boutiques and selected retailer partners around the world, with delivery planned for August 2021. However, the three other models (a cream, brown and green dial) offered in 38mm cases, also releasing in August, will become part of the mainstream Prospex collection. Check them out below.
The limited-edition Seiko Prospex The 1959 Alpinist Re-creation will retail for $4,495, while the Seiko Alpinist recreations will retail for $1,150 on steel and $1,100 on leather.
For just a fraction of the new Alpinist, the Seiko 5 will make your wrist look a million bucks.