No one saw it coming, not even the folks at Seiko. The Seiko Alpinist climbed from humble roots as a sporty “value proposition” watch to become a horological phenomenon. In 2006, Seiko launched a trio of models that resurrected the Alpinist name from a line of watches engineered for Japanese mountain climbers from 1961 to 1964, the Laurel Alpinist. More on that later. As noted, one of the three, the SARB017, instantly became a cult classic. It featured a green dial with gold markers and gold cathedral hands. It had a small-but-loyal following in the JDM (Japanese domestic market) watch scene, but it didn’t stop there. The ”Japanese Explorer” struck a chord with the global watch community, mostly in online forums where enthusiasts digitally mingled. There were a lot less people in the hobby back then–but the Alpinist came up in almost every thread about affordable watches. It was often recommended for folks who needed a watch that could be dressed up or down. Amazon saw a continuous stream of orders for the SARB017. Shortly after its release, the Alpinist stood firmly on its own. It had managed to carve out a strong reputation even in the shadow of the beloved range of mid-2000s Seiko divers like the Sumo, Monster, and 007.
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