Someone’s comment on the Alpinist (SARB017) got me onto this post. First thing is it is an excellent line to go for if you are looking prestige and perfection without the Swiss made markup. But as the rule of thumb, let’s mention that unlike Rolex or other luxury watches around, the SARB is only for them appreciating the quality and style; not a bloated image or maybe, the residual value. It’s the overall technique and quality of the SARB that come before the name on its dial.

However, even if you are just looking for a dressy piece with a super nice finish and you’re not hell bent on breaking the bank, the SARB can take you a long way. The series gets you started on the luxury road and suggestions are they set you up towards the Grand Seiko. The Seiko SARB range looks every bit as nice; are accurate (-15/+25 seconds a day), very well made and bear a tag many times lesser. And they are not so delicate. But the Grand Seiko wins on the accuracy front (-3/+5 seconds a day) and is bit more polished; unless you find that an issue, the Caliber 6R15 is a great bang for the bucks you spend.

The price is also pretty good considering Seiko’s serious take on the esthetic sides and the SARBs are vastly greater if compared to the 5s. But the fact that several of them have been discontinued (including the Alpinist) is a real heartbreak to any serious watch collector. The SARB045 and SARB039, for example; also the famous Alpinist.

The factors contributing to the price of the SARB-s are the:

  • Hour markers: I wish chocolate bars were thick as much, proportionately. The textured surfaces (model specific), too.
  • Case design/finishing: Calling them slightly more sophisticated than others within the same price range will be an understatement. There’s more surface (so, more hours of work) and an outstanding case-finishing. Noticeable right away and that applies for the other viewable parts (the hands, the bracelet, the crown and case-back) too. But it’s only the Alpinist that sports a screw-in crown and a solid case-back.

To cut things short, you pay for what you get and for the SARB, the price is determined by the overall build-quality. In short, the hack and hand-wind SARB-s are affordable luxury that doesn’t require as much care as a Swiss luxury does.