We’ll start with the re-creation. The watch it’s based on is the original “Seiko Laurel Alpinist” introduced in 1959, now considered the brand’s first sports watch. Among this watch’s innovative features were a screwed case back (to keep dust, sand, and the like away from the movement), lumed hour markers and hands, and the instantly recognizable thick, cuff-like strap that was meant to protect the case from perspiration. Yes, these are all relatively common features on contemporary sports watches (well, with the exception of the not currently in vogue bund strap), but in the late 50s, for Seiko, this represented serious innovation, and was the beginning of a long run of sports watches that nobody could have predicted at the time, and is arguably unmatched by any other brand (including the one with the crown logo).
The SJE085 is powered by Seiko’s premium 6L35 movement, and is conservatively sized at 36.6mm in diameter. The slim Seiko movement keeps the case relatively thin at 11.1mm tall, which is slightly thicker than the original. That small bit of extra heft can at least partially be attributed to the inclusion of a date complication on the new watch, something not present on the original Alpinist. This has the potential to be a talking point among enthusiasts who prefer a cleaner, date-free dial, but I think Seiko has done a nice job of executing the date window here, particularly given that they’ve placed it at 4:30. Anywhere else and the triangular hour markers would need to be somehow split up or removed, and that feels like a higher crime than a relatively discrete, color matched date window. The retail price on the SJE085 is $2,900, and it’s limited to 1,959 examples.