Alpina watches have been closely associated with sport, adventure and extreme endeavours since 1938. That was the year that Gottlieb Hauser, who founded the “Alpina Swiss Watchmakers’ Corporation” at the turn of the century, identified the four essential properties that he believed a sports watch should possess: it had to be anti-magnetic, shock-resistant, water-resistant, and the case had to be stainless steel. Thus the “Alpina 4” principle was born. Today, Alpina continues to perpetuate the philosophy of its founder by making strong, sturdy, precise and reliable watches that people engaging in demanding activities on the ground, in the air or underwater can wear with complete confidence.
At the peak with Alpiner
The Alpiner 4 models launched in 2004 as part of the Alpiner collection all have these three four properties. Young Alpine skiers, seasoned freeriders such as Aurélien Ducroz (now also making a name for himself as a yachtsman) and Arctic explorers are the chosen ambassadors for this collection dedicated to mountain sports. All Alpiner and Alpiner 4 models have self-winding mechanical movements; they come in 3-handed models with date (from CHF 1190), chronographs and GMT versions. Alpina’s top-of-the-range collection also includes a “Manufacture” three-handed model with a small date at 6 o’clock, driven by manufacture calibre AL-710, with discreetly vintage styling signalled by a cream-coloured dial, and an Alpiner 4 Manufacture Flyback Chronograph with a choice of silvered, black, black-and-blue or beige dials in a steel and black PVD case. This sophisticated model, with dual ISO certification for resistance to shocks and magnetism, is driven by the AL-760 manufacture calibre incorporating the patented Direct Flyback system, which supplies a 38-hour power reserve. It is available for the price of CHF 4750.
Alpiner 4 Automatic © Alpina
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The glowing hands are a slim, curved sword design using a pole seconds hand which once again features the reddish Alpina triangle, now as a counterweight. Dial print of this Alpina logo and touch is big, though awarded the 44mm case and ample dial property, it is not overpowering. Other than that, the dial is marked with “Automatic 100M-330FT” and “Swiss Made” in its conventional six o’clock location. Overall, the dial is effective and attractive. One of the vital components of any pilot’s watch is instantaneous legibility and the Startimer Automatic has that in spades given its clear and clean design. Some might take offense at the of Alpina’s triangle which appears not as three occasions in the dial and hands however, quite honestly, that is simply how Alpina rolls and you see their logo everywhere in their own collection. The inclusion of an anti-reflective sapphire crystal ensures unfettered screening of this dial despite variable lighting conditions.Moving to the circumstance, which can be 44mm by 10.7mm in size with a brushed finish and an extremely minimal pragmatic layout, we see again how Alpina are paying homage to important pilot’s watches of days long ago. Absent are any intricacies in alternating finish or complicated case shapes or bevels. The instrument watch feel is evident here and gives the watch a no nonsense aesthetic that plays to the pilot’s watch idea. A straightforward but neatly engraved case back adds to the utilitarian concept. A minor issue for me is using instance plating on two of those four variations of the Startimer Pilot Automatic. While I know the drive to produce a “gold” and a “titanium” version, I think that the idea of case plating is a little distasteful for some who know this plating can easily wear off with use, particularly on a instrument watch.
Into the abyss with Seastrong
The red triangle brand dedicates its Seastrong collection to diving enthusiasts, a demographic it has worked with for fifty years. While the Alpina 4 of 1938 was water-resistant, it was what we would now consider shower-proof at best. But in 1956, Alpina designed a two-part case featuring a rigid rubber gasket around the screwed caseback, and a mechanism that sealed the case even more securely when water pressure was applied. This “Super Compressor” was water-resistant to 200 metres, and the case would be reused in 1967 for the famous Alpina 10. The watches in the Seastrong Diver collection are the heirs of this classic model. Today, they have a depth rating of 300 metres and all the usual features of a dive watch, including a unidirectional rotating bezel, a generously proportioned 44 mm case and large luminescent hour markers. Starting at CHF 995, the Seastrong Diver 300 Big Date Chronograph is equipped with a quartz movement, while the Seastrong Diver 300 with three hands and date, launched this year, reveals its automatic AL-525 movement through a transparent caseback. The Seastrong Horological Smartwatch is water-resistant to 100 m.
Seastrong Diver300 © Alpina
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Up in the air with the Startimer
With the help of ambassador Michael Goulian, a Red Bull Air Race pilot, Alpina is repositioning itself in the world of aviation. In the first half of the 20th century it enjoyed an enviable reputation as a supplier of pilots’ watches for various national air forces. Today it is turning to air sports. The Startimer collection, introduced in 2011, offers a range of pilots’ watches that faithfully follow the codes of the genre, with their contrasting dials, large numbers, luminous indices and screw-down crowns. The Startimer Pilot, Big Date and chronograph models are available in quartz and mechanical versions. Lovers of fine watches can treat themselves to the Startimer Pilot Automatic introduced at this year’s Baselworld, with a 100 metre depth rating and a power reserve of 38 hours, for less than one thousand Swiss francs. More demanding connoisseurs will appreciate the vertical or horizontal bi-compax chronograph models, or the “Manufacture” and “Worldtimer” models.
Startimer Pilot Automatic © Alpina
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