Yesterday, we announced the release of the Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB201J1 European Limited Edition. As with the previous Seiko Alpinist release, it is available via the Fratello shop first. Each one comes with a special strap we designed especially to complement the watch, but we only have 35 pieces in stock. Having passed on the previous Alpinist, I thought the time was ripe to pick one up myself. Here’s what I made of the watch when I got it (and the limited edition pin badge that comes with it) in my hands for the first time…

The first 35 pieces are available from the Fratello Shop. Once again, they will include one of our very own Fratello straps. This one has been chosen to harmonize with the cool grey tones of the dial. In total, 2,021 pieces of this limited Seiko Alpinist will be released, and each one will come with a limited edition box and a really cool Alpinist pin.

Seiko Alpinist SPB201J1 2021

A pin that brings back memories

When I was a kid, I collected pin badges. I had them from all over Europe. Every time I visited somewhere new (normally a site of outstanding natural beauty famous for a trail or a peak visitors were expected to conquer) I would pick up a pin from the local gift shop and lovingly attach it to my hiking backpack.

…another reminder of mountains’ unrivaled majesty.

Looking back on those days now, they seem quaintly at odds with the rampantly digitized world in which we live today. And yet, perhaps for that reason, these charming physical reminders of the places I’ve visited mean even more to me. It may seem a slightly silly obsession for a 35-year old man to have, but the pin alone (realized in a desperately cool retro style) is one of the prime purchase motivators for me. I can already imagine this Alpinist pin joining my collection and giving my trusty rucksack another reminder of mountains’ unrivaled majesty.

Seiko Alpinist SPB201J1 2021

A mountain sunset

In fact, it is exactly that majesty that inspired the Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB201J1. The gray of the dial and the flashes of white, red, and silver that bring it to life were picked out of a mountain sunset scene. The watch was paired with an earthy brown strap. This results in an altogether warmer experience than we saw back in the frosty October of 2020.

…the designers’ imaginations were piqued by the peaks that give so many of us joy…

Inspiration in watchmaking is a funny thing. It can come from all kinds of places. Sometimes brands try to build on their heritage. Sometimes a flash of technical brilliance takes center stage. Every so often, trends and fashions from other industries can find their way in to watch design. And in the case of the Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB201J1, the designers’ imaginations were piqued by the peaks that give so many of us joy on a daily basis.

Seiko Alpinist SPB201J1 2021

In my personal opinion, it isn’t imperative that the end result of a personal design process should clearly mirror its origins. Inspiration is just the starting point. A shadow, a color, even a sudden breeze carrying with it a scent that reminds you of a time gone by can be enough to get the ball rolling. So although watch journalists are tasked with unpacking the reasons behind new products on a daily basis, which can result in no little cynicism building up, it is always better to look at these things with the open eyes of a watch designer to truly appreciate their merit.

Seiko Alpinist SPB201J1 2021

The end result speaks volumes

I find this origin story charming. Firstly, it is quintessentially Seiko. This is a brand that makes no secret of its connection to nature. Poetic justifications for watches, such as underwater forests or the reflection of the moon in water are par for the course. Secondly, it is totally in-line with the Alpinist concept. These are rugged timepieces designed to accompany intrepid hikers on their adventures. Having them inspired by the sites one might see on such an expedition makes perfect sense to me. In fact, considering this release in that light made me wonder what we might see in the future.

…I finally have my Alpinist.

With Seiko’s increasing ability to create interesting dials at a reasonable price point (think of the Save the Ocean models, of the Tapisserie dials of the new Samurais we saw in 2020), we could be entering an exciting new era for the Alpinist range to become a more expressive series, tied more obviously to its intended environment.

Seiko Alpinist SPB201J1 2021

Several of my Fratello colleagues picked-up the icy cool Alpinist released in October. The shimmering emerald green/gray dial was too alluring to ignore. I, however, did not. I was waiting for the SPB201J1 to hit the shelves. For me, as an avid mountaineer, I finally have my Alpinist. If you want one too, head over to the Fratello Shop and grab yours now. Shipping commences early February. Learn more about Seiko here.