Seiko Alpinist or the SARB017 is a cult classic that has recently seen price increases because it is no longer in production. As a result, some fakes are starting to enter the market. The key here is how to spot a Fake Seiko Alpinist?
You can spot a fake Seiko Alpinist by checking and verifying the serial number with Seiko. You can also compare the watch side-by-side with an original. You can also open up the watch case to observe the movement to decide if the watch is authentic.
In this article, we will explore the series of checks we can perform ourselves to see if the Alpinist we want to buy is original or not.
Do understand that the list is a guide to help you make the check. Failing one or a few may not mean the watch is fake, but you need to be more careful.
For ultimate certainty on the genuineness of the Alpinist you are inspecting, always consider having it checked with a professional watchmaker or Seiko’s service center.
Step 1: Check Serial Number
The simplest way to check the watch is to crosscheck the watch card with the serial number on the caseback.
If the watch comes with a watch card or any official document showing the watch’s serial number, compare it against the serial number printed on the watch.
The serial number should be a 6-digit number, located right in the middle of the watch case.
If the number does not match, the watch may not be genuine. Ask the seller why the number is not similar, as this is a sign of blatant cheating.
The seller might be trying to fool you by using a separate watch card, which could signal something more sinister with the watch. If you are not satisfied with the answer, leave.
If the serial number matches, you may proceed to the rest of the checklist. If the watch does not come with any serial number that you can crosscheck, you may need to perform further checks in this list to decide.
Step 2: Compare With Original Watch
Suppose you have at least verified that the watch serial number is the same as the ones printed on the watch card. You can have some confidence in the intention of the seller.
This means you can relax a bit. But still, you need to conduct further checks to ensure you are really buying the real Alpinist.
It helps if you have an original alpinist for the following check. If you do, you have a solid reference point to compare. Many fakes, even super clones, may not stand up to a detailed side-by-side comparison.
If you do not have one, you will need to rely on images and specifications online to confirm your check.
Is the dial color similar to the original? Compare the color of the green dial with the original. Is it similar? Or are there slight differences in the intensity or shine of the color? In some cases, fake watchmakers may not be able to perfectly replicate the color.
Are the markers and letterings similar to the original? Compare the markers and lettering on the watch to the original. The hour markers and the Seiko log should be applied, with the other letterings printed.
Take note of the positioning of the markers and letterings, and see if they are similar to each other. Also, take note of the spelling of words such as ‘Diashock 23 Jewels, Automatic, or Japan 6R15.’ Some lower-grade fakes can make mistakes on things like these.
Are the markers and letterings crisp? How to look into the applied hands and Seiko logo on the dials. Compare and confirm if the edges are sharp and crisp. It may be helpful to have a magnifying glass as you do this.
Are the watch hands consistent? Pull out the crown to stop the second hand. Now compare each watch’s hands and see if the cathedral-style hands are similar and consistent.
Also, take note of the gold color of the watch hands. Ensure that they are of the same shade.
Are the movements equally loud? Place your original Alpinist watch movement right to your ear, and listen to the watch ticking. You should head a fast, constant ticking sound of an automatic movement.
Now place the other watch in the same ear. Try to listen if there are significant differences in the ticking sound. In specific, listen to the volume and the pitch of the ticking sound.
Clone watchmakers tend to use different movements to run their watch, which means it may be making sounds different from the original.
Are the second-hand sweeps at similar consistency? Now observe the sweeping second hand of the watch. Does it sweep in a similar consistency, speed, and motion?
Clone watches could be using different movements with different beat rates, which may mean the second hand may sweep slower/faster than the original.
Do the movements look similar? Ask for permission if you can open the caseback of the watch, and if allowed, open up the caseback of the original Alpinist and the one you are inspecting.
You should be seeing a Seiko 6R15 movement. Also, observe the finishing of the movement to ensure they are similar.
Are the watch case has similar finishing? Now take up the watch case and observe the finishing. Observe that brushed surfaces and polished surfaces appear in the same place and that the shine of the watch is consistent and similar.
You may want to wipe the watch clean with a microfiber cloth before performing this inspection for better results.
Are the watch cases have similar measurements? If you have a digital caliper, now is the time you take it out to inspect the watch case. Measure the following measurements on the original watch before trying it.
- Lug-to-lug width
- Case thickness
- Diameter with crown
Are the watches similar in weight? Now pick up the watch, and compare if they feel the same in weight. Remove the straps and place the watch on an electronic scale if you want to be sure.
There should be only minor differences in the measurements. Anything more significant may signal red flags.
Does the watch come with documentation? A watch that comes with complete documentation is a good sign, showing that the seller is someone who cares about the watch.
You may also view the complete information of the watch, including the serial number and warranty status. You may also know the history of the watch from the original receipt. Watches with complete documentation are also easier to sell later.
However, do understand that not all sellers can provide the complete package. Failure to do this does not mean the watch is fake.
Since Alpinist SARB017 is a JDM model, the documentation may be in Japanese.
Still In Doubt? Visit A Watchmaker
Now, understand that this checklist is a guide, not a perfect way to tell if the Alpinist you plan to buy is genuine.
Should you detect some red flags that made you uncomfortable, consider taking the watch to a watchmaker or Seiko service center to verify authenticity.
You may need to pay for the service, but spending additional money for peace of mind is always worth it.