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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 1960s Seiko Champion Alpinist Ref. J13043 here.


Seiko introduced the Alpinist line in 1959 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 was designed to be marketed towards the mountain men adventurer, rather like the Rolex Explorer of the same era.


Subsequently, in 1962, Seiko changed the moniker to Champion Alpinist.  Per Fratello in 2022, “One glance reveals the Seiko Champion Alpinist J13043 is a very different animal.  We’re somewhere around 1963 here and it’s clear that Seiko has broken away from those innocent, playful pieces that defined the brand’s earlier collections."


"Even though this watch is still intended for outdoorsmen, it gives off a more brutal, almost industrial air.  It almost takes me to the Streamline Moderne era.  Take in the sharply defined brushed silvery sectors, a railroad minute track, and the thick surrounding anthracite border.  The symmetry is simply perfect.  Was there room for a date window?  Nope, Seiko was on a mission here and such an eyesore wasn’t at all welcome.”


The Alpinist collection went through several different dial designs, and the Alpinist J13043’s little details are significant - Seiko applied lume evenly at the dial hours and the 12 o’clock defining black triangle; the lumed dagger hands remain incredibly sharp.  However, the design of the seconds hand is the best part, as its sweep-seconds hand is magic with its taper ending at a small half-moon tip. 


The J13043’s truly unique dial features a two-tone sector design, with its champagne/silver toned coloring, black outer ring, and radial brushed finish. Then there are the thin, printed radial lines coming from the center of the dial to each of the small, lumed hour dots.  Bringing all this together seamlessly are four (!) different dial fonts.


Above said, and we don’t like to use the over-played term “rare,” so take it from Worn & Wound and Fratello in 2017 and 2021 respectively – “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.”


“Despite the fact that the modern Alpinist models are so popular, one rarely sees these early versions online.  I suppose that’s because a watch like the Alpinist J13043 is relatively rare and even more so outside of Japan.”


Seiko would conclude the Alpinist line in circa 1965, when the company discontinued the line (although models under the Champion name alone continued to be produced).


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

Early 1960s Seiko Champion Alpinist Ref. J13043 Mechanical

Out of Stock
  • DIAL: This Alpinist features crisp writing throughout, with a grayish silver outer ring 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 black and extending toward the center of the dial. The Alpinist 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 black outer ring for contrast and ease of reading.  The dial features four (!) different fonts on the dial, all of which work seamlessly together.


    CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 38.5mm (35.5mm w/o crown) x 44mm, with sharp caselines, and matching caseback; snap back caseback engravings are crisp and defined.  The J13043 features atypical multi-chamfered lugs and inset bezel design.


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


    BAND: This Alpinist comes on a brown leather rally strap; it also comes with an orange, white, and blue nylon strap.


    MOVEMENT: The Alpinist 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 J13043.


    CROWN: Unsigned Seiko J12082 crown.

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