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Seiko aficionados can be forgiven for only thinking colorful chronographs and sturdy utilitarian divers (like the 6105 and 6306/9) when the topic of vintage Seiko comes up in conversation – but many neglect to remember the pioneering early watches Seiko brought to market in the early 1960’s, like this full serviced and seldom seen 1962 Seiko Champion Alpinist 850 Ref. J13079 here.

 

Seiko introduced the Alpinist line in 1961 with the even more rare Laurel Alpinist, inspired by the Japanese concept of “yama-otoko,” or “mountain man.”  Many think of Tokyo when Japan comes to mind, but the countryside can be rather mountainous in places, and amateur mountain climbing was (and remains) a popular pursuit – the Alpinist 850 was designed to be marketed towards the mountain men adventurer.

 

Subsequently, in 1962, Seiko changed the moniker to Champion Alpinist, and then later again to Champion 850 Alpinist – like the watch on offer here – in reference to the movement number.  Seiko would go on to conclude the Alpinist line until circa 1965 when the company discontinued it (although models under the Champion name continued to be produced).

 

The Alpinist collection went through several different dial designs, and per Fratello in 2017, “…this model in particular is quite stunning and unique with its two-tone sector design.  It is champagne/silver toned with a brown outer ring and a radial brushed finish.  There are thin, printed radial lines coming from the center of the dial to each of the small, lumed hour dots…”

 

“If you’re in the market for a great looking and unique vintage Seiko, the Champion Alpinist is a great choice.  However, the trick is finding one in the first place.  Pretty much any of the Alpinist models are fairly difficult to acquire.  In fact, I’ve never seen a Laurel Alpinist for sale anywhere and it took me about five years of searching before I nabbed this one.”

 

This Seiko Alpinist 850 comes with on a leather strap, and with nylon strap, rugged travel case, and springbar tool.

1962 Seiko Champion Alpinist 850 Ref. J13079

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  • DIAL: This Alpinist 850 features a 24-hour marker dial , with crisp writing throughout.  The grayish silver outer ring is broken by a series of small rectangles, champagne silver in color, at each of the hour markers. The only exception is the large triangle at twelve, with the the base end champagne color and the the pointed end brown and extending toward the center of the dial.  The 850’s hour and minute hands are a dauphine style with large lume-filled centers.  The second hand possesses a unique lumed half-moon shaped tip that tracks through the brown outer ring for contrast and ease of reading.

     

     

    CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 38mm x 43.5mm, with sharp caselines, and matching caseback; the caseback engravings are crisp and defined.

     

    CRYSTAL: Alpinist 850-correct domed acrylic crystal, no cracks or scratches.

     

    BAND: This Alpinist 850 comes on a grey leather strap; it also comes with a red, white, and blue nylon strap.

     

    MOVEMENT: The Alpinist 850 has a manual wind movement, signed “Seikosha” and “17 jewels.”  Of note, these early Seiko movements did not have model numbers associated with them.  We have performed a full service on this J13079.

     

    CROWN: Unsigned crown.