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Alba Watches in the Walled Off Hermit Kingdom

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A recent post on Thomas Yeo’s blog introduced me to the Alba Modern Classic Automatic AL4037X (above). It retails for 152,000 Won (KRW), or about $160 USD. He said it’s not available in Singapore and not easy to find. An Internet search led to the discovery of several interesting Alba models sold in the Korean market. [Edit 3/26/20007: Thomas Yeo comments below the Modern Classic is available in Thailand too. I’ve also seen them on Seiko Canada’s Web site. At present still only finding the Next Future/Neo Digital Albas in Korea.]

Alba is a sub-brand of Seiko Watch Corporation. Alba watches have modern designs, quality construction, are moderately priced, and targeted towards the youth market in the Far East. They’re sold in countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. They’re not available in the United States.

The Korean peninsula was known in the West as the Hermit Kingdom in centuries past. Wikipedia says hermit kingdom is a term applied to any country or society that walls itself off (metaphorically or physically) from the rest of the world. Now, of course, South Korea a modern, open, dynamic country.

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In addition to the white-dial version, the Alba Modern Classic Automatic also comes in black, Alba AL4035X (below), and there’s one on a stainless steel bracelet. One Korean website says it was released in August 2006 and has a 45mm case, with a 24.5mm strap width at the lugs and 20mm at the tang. But several others list the case size as 40mm. [Edit 3/26/20007: One SCWFer says he purchased one on eBay, and the case size is 40mm, link here. He also says it has a screwdown crown, but it doesn’t appear so in photos. More information when available.] It’s water resistant to 100m. Scroll your cursor over images to get copyright information.

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Another analog Alba that Japanese watch enthusiasts will be interested in is Alba Active Gents AF8E05X. It’s a quartz bullhead chronograph, and sells for 144,000 KRW ($153 USD). It comes in various dial and strap color combinations. Looks like it has a 12-hour accumulator subdial at 3 o’clock. It’s water resistant to 50m.

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The Republic of South Korea has the highest broadband penetration in the world, followed by Denmark. Perhaps it’s not surprising Seiko makes cool Alba digital watches targeted exclusively for tech-savvy Korea. The Alba The Next Future and Neo Digital lines (examples to follow) are apparently only available in Korea.

Alba The Next Future AM6005X is shown below. The watch, very similar to the Seiko Final Fantasy from the year 2001, retails for $175 US. The case is highly polished stainless steel, and is 31.50mm x 62.75mm. The rubber strap is 30mm wide at the lugs. It is powered by Alba movement W444. Among its functions is a stop watch, and timer, both with a 10-hour range. It is water resistant to 100m.

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Another digital model is Alba Neo Digital ABL031X, at $230 USD retail. It comes in a stainless steel version (below), and one with a black gun metal finish.

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As of today, Internet searches for all these watches only come up with hits on Korean websites like timeoutlet. Though a modern high-tech society, for Alba fans, Korea still is a hermit kingdom, walled off to outsiders longing for these interesting watches.

If only there were vendors in Seoul or Pusan that sold to customers abroad, like seiyajapan.com or higuchi-inc.com do from Japan!

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3 Responses to “Alba Watches in the Walled Off Hermit Kingdom”

  1. Lee® Says:

    Alba’s designs certainly do lean towards the more cutting edge and avant-garde. You are so right in that Seiko’s Alba division was tasked to capture the attention of the fashion-minded youths in Asia. And in doing so, Seiko hopes that these youths will continue to purchase Seiko-branded products as they progress through life. Thanks for sharing some of these neat Alba designs with us, Bryan.

  2. bryanandersen Says:

    Interesting point about Seiko targeting Asian youth with inexpensive Alba designs, hoping to sell them more expensive Seikos when they get good jobs and have more income in middle age. But I wonder if Seiko isn’t underestimating the appeal these designs might have for people in their 30s and 40s in the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East?

  3. Yeoman Says:

    Alba Thailand carries the Modern Classic automatic models as well. Perhaps it’s easier to buy one from Thailand with some help from Reto or any WIS friend who is based there. :)

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