Three reasons why the Seiko Blue Alpinist (ref. SPB089) could be your go-to watch

Posted by Norman on March 20, 2020

Seiko Blue Alpinist (SPB089)
Market Price: $874
Market Range: $803 - $945
Volatility: 8.15%
13% in the past month

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My friend offered to lend me this watch for a week since he knew I was into dressy watches. I was initially skeptical since Seiko designed this as a sports watch and I expected a watch with chunky dive watch features or strictly functional design – something I’m not too fond of. Needless to say, I owe my friend some Chipotle Mexican Grill. Obligatory watch features:

Watch Features:

  • Movement: Seiko 6R15
  • Case: Stainless steel, 39mm x 12mm thick, Screw-Down Crown
  • Back: Solid back, Lug-to-lug – 46mm
  • Dial: Sunburst Blue, Seiko LumiBrite cathedral hands
  • Crystal: Flat Sapphire
  • Band: Black leather strap, buckle closure
  • Water Resistance: 200 meters

1. Dual appeal

One of the best aspects of this watch is its dual appeal. It’s a dressy sports watch that has a classy yet rugged appeal. Sized at 39mm x 12mm, this watch perfectly fits my 6.5” wrist. The first impression I got after looking at this watch is: this was designed to be worn at formal occasions. A watch someone would wear to a ball, his friend’s wedding, a cozy date at a high-class restaurant, etc. But, real water resistance at 200m with a screw-down crown and a compass inner bezel, most definitely allow this watch to be a functional piece for any outdoor adventure. Snorkeling with friends in Australia? Exploring the streets of New York? Navigating the Alps? The Alpinist can do that. I’m a one watch type of person and this ticks all the boxes for me. 

2. New Dial Blue Dial, Green Dial Meme Dial

OK, not quite a meme but, in my opinion, green is a tacky color scheme on this watch. The immediate predecessor to the Blue Alpinist (SPB089) is the SARB017. It’s the same overall design except it has a sunburst green dial with gold accented markers. The SPB089 has a sunburst blue dial with steel-accented markers. So why do I think the Blue Alpinist is better? Watches are an emotional piece and this color scheme paints a vivid picture for me. When I see the blue and silver version of this watch, I imagine mountaineering on snow-capped peaks with an expansive, cloudless, blue sky above me. I’m methodically scaling a mountain while I occasionally glance at my watch to navigate the next best path using the cardinal directions of my watch. Very fitting for the name of the watch – Alpinist. Green and gold? Not so much. The popularity of the Blue Alpinist is very apparent and evident as well in its price trends depicted in the following graph. It sold with an original MSRP of $600 and has never traded for less than that. You can check out more here. Hopefully Seiko decides to include more blue dials in their future generation Alpinists. The current generation of Alpinists, SPB117, SPB119, SPB121, don’t include a blue dial.

3. Interesting design and functionalities

There is a mixture of brushed and polished surfaces across the entire case. The bezel and flanks are completely polished while the top of the lugs are brushed. This juxtaposition creates a beautiful line for the lugs. However, drilled lug holes on the case would have been a great addition, considering this is a sports watch and the strap that comes with it is the definition of mediocre. Cathedral-style hands sweep around the dial with Arabic numerals applied to mark every other hour. Lume dots are placed on the chapter ring beside every hour marker. A black date window sits at the 3 o’clock position.The inner compass ring largely blends in with the rest of the dial, giving the wearer the information he needs only when looking for it. The cardinal directions are all easy to spot, with north being highlighted in red.

The caseback features Seiko markings with the Alpinist mountain logo in the middle, the words “Limited Edition,” and the serial number out of 1959. The signed crown at 3 o’clock screws down and operates the hands, while the second crown is used to turn the rotating internal compass bezel.

One of the more unique features is you can use the Alpinist to find north or south depending on your current hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere the process to find south is as follows:

  1. Lay the watch flat and point the hour hand at the sun. 
  2. Split the distance between the hour hand and 12 o’clock on the dial. 
  3. Rotate the inner bezel so south is lined up correctly on the dial. 

If you are in the southern hemisphere, the process above will find north. A simple yet highly useful process for a watch meant to be used outdoors. And even if you aren’t able to use or don’t care about this feature, it’s a unique design of a watch that serves as a great conversation starter. It’s something immediately tangible for people to learn and play with.

So to put it in two sentences: This is a dressy sports watch that really can fit any occasion. Winner winner chicken dinner.

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