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Seiko has designed quite a few legendary watches, both in its storied past and into the contemporary era.  One of these is the full serviced late 1950s Seiko Laurel Alpinist Ref. J14041 here, the “rarest and most desirable of the Alpinist watches,” per Fratello.

 

Debuting in 1959, the Japanese watchmaker designed the Laurel Alpinist to serve Japanese mountain climbers (or yama-otoko in Japanese).  Accordingly, Seiko designed the Laurel Alpinist as a highly legible, dependable, water and shock-resistant watch to withstand extreme temperatures and environments for exploring the country’s many mountains – according to the Japanese Alpine Club, Japan has nearly 17,000 “official” mountains.

 

Per Fratello’s Michael Stockton, “A 14041 qualifies as a grail for hardcore Seiko collectors.  I think that’s fair for the watch that kicked off a well-known series of watches.  Some will harbor concern about its more petite size, but I find 35mm to work well.  The dials on these Seiko Laurel Alpinist pieces dominate and look good on the wrist...As I said, these are desirable, and prices are reflective of this.”

 

To wit, Sadao Ryugo notes in his, "History of the Seiko Alpinist" (2022), the white dial variant here was produced and sold for only a short period, rendering this dial variant far less seen than the black one - a rare variant of an already quite rare watch.

 

All of us here are firm believers in reliable gear, and nowhere is this truer than those that venture outdoors in extreme environs – mountain climbers face some of the most extreme weather in the world.  And Seiko would pay attention to this "tough gear" requirement in the design of the Laurel Alpinist 14041 - the watch was the brand’s first truly purpose-built sports watch (pre-dating Seiko’s legendary collection of purpose-built dive watches). 

 

The watch strikes a distinctively minimal and elegant mid-century aesthetic that reveals its design intent, featuring a dial design adorned with massive triangular and rectangular lume plots (for visibility).  Between the dial lume plots are white minute track that use the same ink printing as the watch name and model.  Rounding it out, the dial’s “Alpinist” nomenclature features a fantastic 1950s-era font.

 

The Seiko Laurel Alpinist was the first of the long-living Seiko Alpinist line, and the Japanese watchmaker re-issued the J14041 in 2021 as the Seiko Prospex Alpinist SJE085J1 Limited Edition at a price (nearly $3k) – of course – rivaling the original rare vintage Laurel Alpinist.

 

This Seiko Laurel Alpinist mechanical comes on a leather bund-type strap, and with nylon strap, rugged travel case, and spring bar tool.

1959 Seiko Laurel Alpinist Ref. J14041 Mechanical

$2,749.99Price
  • DIAL: Silver/white Seiko Laurel-signed dial, with matching “dagger” hour, minute, and seconds handset.  Lume is dead the handset, and weak on the dial, as expected in a watch well over hald a century in age.

     

    CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 35mm (37mm including crown) x 41mm.

     

    CRYSTAL: Domed acrylic crystal, scratch-free.

     

    BAND: This Seiko Laurel Alpinist comes on a black leather bund-type strap, similar to what came with the watch when sold; it also comes with a red, white, and black nylon strap.

     

    MOVEMENT: Seikosha Reference 14041 17-jewel manual-wind mechanical movement. We have performed a full service on this watch.

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