Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on August 16, 2018
I should preface my comments with a disclosure: green is my favorite color. So while the dial may seem off-putting to some, it's catnip to me.

Such a beautiful, unusual watch. The green sunburst dial is striking and photographs don't really do justice to how it plays with the light, especially natural light in the out of doors, where this watch was designed to be. That dial and the inner rotating compass bezel (operated via the second crown at the 4 o'clock position) make this a very unusual timepiece. The 39mm case size follows vintage proportions (this would have been considered a fairly large watch 30 years ago) and looks great even on my freakishly small wrists.

The sapphire crystal (a rarity on sub $500 Seikos), Diashock technology and impressive 200 meter water resistance rating are nice features and combine to make this an unusually rugged mechanical watch. Which makes perfect sense given it's original target market: outdoor adventurers operating in some pretty harsh alpine environments. Yet the watch's classical design - especially those cathedral hands - allow it to wear reasonably well for dressier occasions.

I normally give products I like no more than a 4 star rating because few are absolutely perfect. I suppose this one isn't either - that faux crocodile strap, while real leather, is a little stiff. But then again, it appears to be treated with some sort of extra waterproofing, so perhaps that explains it's less than supple feel. But the rest of this watch is so balanced and finely executed that in my mind it's much closer to 5 stars than 4.

Grab one of these while you can; Seiko has unwisely discontinued further production of this watch, which has already developed something of a cult following among watch aficionados. This is one of the few timepieces in this price range that is likely to appreciate in value over time.

FYI: the compass bezel feature on the Alpinist is not a true magnetic compass. It merely capitalizes on a little known technique for accurately obtaining bearings with any analog wrist watch. As long as you can see the sun. First, account for daylight savings time: if it's the summer months, you'll want to fall back one hour to get an accurate compass reading (either by physically resetting the time, or mentally accounting for it when you take the initial bearing). Next, position the watch dial so that the hour hand is pointing straight to the sun. South will be half way between the hour hand and 12 noon. Use the Alpinist's secondary crown to align the 'South' marker on the inner bezel with due south and that inner bezel will now show true bearings in every direction.

The above works if you are in the northern hemisphere. If you are in the southern hemisphere, use the same method, except the initial bearing will be showing true north.

Note that you don't actually need a special watch with a compass bezel to use this technique. The only difference is with an ordinary watch, once you've located due south (or north), you need to translate the hour markers to the cardinal points on a compass.
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