Baselworld 2013 Preview…
This is a new model in Alpina’s Sailing collection, a collection which is now five or six pieces deep and seems to get better every year. This watch, the Sailing Yachttimer Countdown, essentially builds off of prior year models (you can see my brief introduction of the Alpina Sailing Collection in 2011 here) with similar style bezel and case (44mm, 300m water resistance, textured screw-down crown). New, however, are the countdown windows used for regatta timing.
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Alpina is out with a new Diver “Midsize” collection – presented in two models, one for ladies with a mother-of-pearl dial (MOP) and the one you see here in a nice combination of steel case + black dial. Both are sized at 38mm, which by today’s standards makes them more of a unisex model. Actually, at 38mm this piece is a refreshing diversion from the massive (48mm) dive watches that the higher end manufactures seem to be on to lately. To be fair, however, this is not really a watch to be comparing to the likes of Hulbot, Richard Mille, Corum and the like. Although the Alpina midsize Diver is decently spec’d — 300 meter water resistance, uni-directional bezel, combination brushed/polished steel case, and luminous white indices, it is powered by a quartz movement. And I am not a fan of the tri-date window (on any watch). This said, the Alpina midsize dive watch will be a very affordable piece if you like the design and want something you don’t have to feel too bad about beating up on the reef. If you are a mechanical purist (as I am), then you’ll want to revisit the Alpina Extreme Diver, the 44mm big brother of this watch that we highlighted back in March.
Alpina Diver Midsize
I guess you can call it “world timer” week here at Perpetuelle because fresh off yesterday’s Girard-Perregaux’s new ww.tc “Dark Knight” watch and Patek Philippe’s 5131J Geneva-dial world timer on Sunday, I have for you a spectacular new worldtimer from Geneva-based Alpina — with a manufacture (in-house) movement nonetheless! I have never been a big fan of the “world time” watch, but I must say that if you like this style of watch you will definitely want to give this new Alpina Worldtimer manufacture a look. I say this because as of today this watch is perhaps the best valued worldtimer watch that money can buy. You see, until now world time watches are exclusively the domain of the elite brands and basically untouchable for under $10,000 — more often a multiple of this amount. This Alpina Worldtimer is priced at$3,450.
This is not to say the watch is perfect, because I do have a few quibbles, which I discuss further below. But no doubt this is a very attractive watch and Alpina is rightly proud of the outcome including the modestly decorated manufacture movement which is highlighted through a sapphire crystal display back (see close up below). Bottom line is that for under $10,000 you can not come anywhere close to putting a Swiss manufacture worldtimer on your wrist — until now. Well done, Alpina. Read on for photos and my further thoughts and analysis of the new Alpina Worldtimer manufacture.
More Manufacture “World Time” Watches by Perpetuelle >>> Jaeger-LeCoultre (Amvox 5 World Chronograph), Zenith Pilot Doublematic WorldTime,Girard-Perregaux ww.tc Worldtimer “John Harrison”, Patek Philip Ref 2523 Worldtime Glashutte Original Senator Navigator Worldview, Breguet 5717 Hora Mundi, Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime, IWC Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer (Ref. 3262), Vacheron Constantin Patrimony World Timer
Update: As an informed reader pointed out in the comments, another worthy choice in the $3,000-range is the Ball Master II EMII World Time, a watch I wrote about in 2010 — I specifically did not mention this watch in my original post because the movement is not manufacture but a modified ETA 2836.
Alpina Worldtimer Manufacture (Ref AL-718B4S6)
Limited Edition of 8888pcs (sorry Alpina but 8,888 pieces is not “limited edition”)
44mm Brushed and polished stainless steel case, automatic mechanical AL-718 Manufacture caliber (date, worldtimer adjustable via crown), black croc strap with stainless steel folding buckle; delivered in a special giftbox with a Cessna plane
Alpina’s Worldtimer features a rotating ring with the names of 24 cities inscribed on it. A second rotating ring has 24-hour markers. This is used to display time in different time zones. Local time is shown by a standard hour and minute hand. The sub-dial at 6 o’clock is a date counter — I might have preferred this to be just a small window/aperture in order to give the dial a cleaner look.
The world time system works this way. First, the local city is set at the top by changing the disc via the crown. For example, Genève is set on top. It means that the hour and minutes hands are representing the time in Genève. From the outer dial, the wearer can check the times in different time zones. Under the label New York, the number displayed is 4, meaning that it is 4:07 a.m. in New York. Under the name Hong Kong, you see the number 17, meaning that it is 17:07 hours, or 5:07 p.m., in Hong Kong. Time around the world at a glance!
As I alluded to above — there is one thing I absolutely do not like about this watch: the hour and minute hands are far too long. Compare the hands on this watch to some of the other worldtimers (such as those I listed above) and you will see what I mean. This is an easy fix for Alpina, and I hope they will revisit the hand length.
The movement here is Alpina’s manufacture caliber AL-718. Having not seen the watch in person I can not speak directly to the technical merits or reliability of the movement, but suffice to say that Alpina has no incentive to launch anything but a product it is very proud of and they clearly are given that the beautiful movement is fully visible behind the sapphire caseback. Note the decoration which really adds to the attractiveness:
In summary, I will say again that this is now the arguably the best valued Swiss (or German) manufacture world time watch on the market today, and an overall well designed and crafted piece from Alpina as I have now come to expect from the brand.
Editor’s Note: Alpina is an advertiser on Perpetuelle as of the date of this posting.
I just wanted to take a moment to publicly thank the advertisers here at Perpetuelle.com. Aside from our ad network, Perpetuelle has a small but diverse group of watch brands/dealers who advertise here, and I encourage you all to consider them if you are in the market for a timepiece. Specifically I am referring to Clerc Geneve, Xetum Watches, The CGA Company, Frederique Constant and Alpina – Thank You all for choosing to bring some of your finite advertising budget to Perpetuelle and our audience of watch owners, collectors & enthusiasts. By the way — if any of you Perpetuelle readers haven’t yet entered Frederique Constant’s contest for an all-expenses trip paid to Geneve, you should enter now (winner chosen on April 30th)!
The CGA Company
“Watches That Stand the Test of Time”
Authorized dealer for: Lum-Tec, Luminox, Kennett, ArmourLite, Caliber, Volta Winders and more
Frederique Constant Geneve
Lastly, please know that anytime one of the Editors here (myself included) writes an article about or feature a watch from one of the above mentioned sponsors, this is clearly noted at the bottom of the article.
by Kyle Stults on March 13, 2012
My partner James Bond recently shared the press release and some looks at the new 2012 Alpina Extreme diver, but because it is such a solid looking watch, I wanted to come back with a few more details. Actually, there are a three variations of the Extreme Diver — in fact the entire collection is brand new for 2012. To support the launch of the collection, Alpina secured a high profile Ambassador in actor/producer/writer William Baldwin. Baldwin will be the “face” of Alpina’s 2012 advertising campaign for its Extreme Diver watches– you can read all about it here. As Baldwin said, there is a definitely a “bold, athletic, cool-factor” to these watches…the watch looks great in all three variations — rubber, bracelet and mesh bracelet. Perhaps the best part about these watches—the price: $1,250 on rubber strap, $1,450 on full steel or steel mesh bracelet.
Alpina Extreme Diver Collection
Refs: AL-525LB4V26 / AL-525LB4V26B / AL-525LB4V26B
delivered in special diving bottle gift box
44mm steel case, automatic mechanical movement, unidirectional luminous bezel, 300 meter water resistance
Ed’s Note: At time of this posting, Alpina was a paid advertiser on the Perpetuelle blog.
Black will always remain the classic color for dive watches. Alpina’s new Extreme Diver emulates the beauty of it and the pictures below are the proof.
Keeping time while diving requires very robust professional watches. There is a kind of beauty to the professional diver’s watch that comes from the pure pleasure of engineering excellence. There is nothing superfluous about divers’ watches, except of course the fact that they are engineered beyond the point of mere utility. After all, no human being is ever going to dive to depths beyond 300 meters. There is, however, a marvelous draw to the idea that you can go that deep, if you wanted, with the proper equipment.
To fully appreciate the Alpina Extreme Diver, the first thing to do is understand the requirements that define the professional diver’s watch. In this regard, it is possible to define clear parameters and, without resorting to hyperbole, make the case for the true professional diver’s watch. As a general rule, for any regular activities from snorkeling to scuba diving, a diver should always choose a watch with a water resistance rating of at least 200 meters.
For the occasional swim, a watch resistant to 100 meters will do. The rationale behind the exceptional water resistance we recommend is that, in general, watches tend to perform differently in real-world situations than they do in the laboratories where they receive their certifications.
by Kyle Stults on February 17, 2012
We aim to revive Alpina back to its former glory by emphasizing Alpina’s historical pilot watches from the 1920’s. The relaunch of the Heritage Pilot is not just a watch, it is like telling a story.
Peter Stas, Alpina CEO
Early indications are that 2012 is looking to be a good year for Alpina. Not only will we see a new dive watch collection from the brand this year, there will also be coming to market this rocking new aviator watch. Inspired by original Alpina Pilot watch designs from the 1920’s and 30’s, this is definitely one of the best watches in recent memory from Alpina. You may not know it, but Alpina’s original parent company was founded in 1883 (the Alpina name was first registered in 1901) and so a heritage piece such as this is very fitting. Alpina did a great job with this watch — let’s dig into the details, shall we?
Alpina Heritage Pilot Watch
limited edition of 1883 pieces
50mm brushed & polished steel case (hinged/”hunter” caseback), manual-wind mechanical movement (Unitas base), calfskin leather strap; delivered in a wooden and aluminium vintage gift box
The piece features leaf-shaped hours and minutes hands, as well as 11 luminous Arabic numerals that are accompanied by white railway-styled minute track. This watch has a substantial 50mm case, but for a watch such as I think this is the right approach. It is not 50mm just for the sake of having a large watch — there is important historical context here. Pilot’s watches were actually designed for use by pilots, and thus “at a glance” legibility was crucial — and a bigger watch dial was more able to meet this need. Of course the 37mm manual-wind Unitas-base movement also necessitates a large case.
note the hinged-caseback which reveals a sapphire crystal exposing the nice manual-wind movement
Speaking of which, don’t overlook the half “hunter” caseback on this watch. If you are not familiar with hunter-cases, think of a pocket watch where the case is hinged and must be opened in order to reveal the movement — same thing here for the Alpina Heritage Pilot. I really appreciate hunter-style casebacks — they are not often seen today which makes them all the more appealing, and think this is an excellent feature that Alpina built into this watch.
More on this watch in an inside-interview with Alpina CEO Peter Stas, posted on the Alpina Blog. Stay tuned for more to come from Alpina this year, including the launching of a new dive watch collection from the brand.
Did You Know?
The story of Alpina starts at the end of the 19th Century when Gottlieb Hauser founded the Swiss Watchmakers Corporation with other independent watchmakers of the region. Initially it was to purchase watch components and making own calibers. Very soon Alpina was being sold internationally and at the height Alpina had nearly 2000 outlets all over the world, an exceptional figure for those days. It is no exaggeration to say that Alpina was one of Europe’s leading watchmakers.
Part of the reason for this success, other than the rigorous dedication to design and quality, (values that still hold true today), was the introduction in 1938 of the Alpina 4. The number ‘4’ stood for the 4 core principles that each watch in the series had to have: anti-magnetism, water-resistance, anti-shock and in a stainless steel case.
These principles gave a theme to the watches and can be said to have pointed the way to the development of what was to be the continued success of the company up until the 1970s. It was the so-called ‘Quartz Crisis’ that either sounded the death knell for many companies or meant the creation of major groups. The emergence of cheap, mass-produced and, above-all, impersonal, watches also nearly meant the end for Alpina. However, despite everything, Alpina hang tough and was revitalized in 2002 and the comeback was on. Working round the clock, a new collection was made ready for the BaselWorld show in 2003. In 2006, Alpina made one more move in its journey towards the future when we moved to a new, purpose built manufacturing site in Geneva, Switzerland, one of the spiritual homes of watch making.
Today I am highlighting several Alpina Starimer Pilot’s watches, all new for 2011. The entire range looks great (except the Regulator which I do not really care for) and I applaud Alpina for a job well done on these watches — they make a great addition to the brand’s lineup. Generally speaking, Alpina targets the “accessible luxury” segment (which I consider to be watches in the $1,000 – $3,000 range, give or take) and these watches are no exception. Think of it this way: these new Alpina Startimer Pilot’s watches look great but won’t cost you and arm and a leg like an IWC Pilot’s watch will. Prices start at $1,150 for the basic 3-handed automatic and go up to $2,795 for the chronograph model on a steel bracelet. Personally I prefer the look of the 2-register chronograph (last photo below). How about you?
Alpina Startimer Pilot Watches
44mm satin-finished stainless steel case, dial marked by “sword” style hands, all models are available with leather strap or metal bracelet
The Startimer series starts with a basic three-hand + date:
Next in line is the 3-hander + small date sub-dial, and with an automatic mechanical caliber AL-710, a “manfacture” movement (developed and produced in-house by Alpina):
Another In-house caliber, the AL-950, powers the Startimer Pilot Regulator — but this particular model does not look attractive to me in the least bit:
Last but not least, a well-balanced 2-register automatic chronograph version (cal. AL-860) — my favorite of the bunch:
USA prices are as follows:
Startimer Automatic on strap: $1150, on bracelet: $1350
Startimer Manufacture (date hand at 6) on strap: $2195, on bracelet $2395
Startimer Manufacture Regulator on strap: $2395, on bracelet $2595
Startimer Chronograph on strap: $2595, on bracelet $2795
Quick look at two new Alpina Yacht Timers, part of the 2011 Alpina Sailing Collection. Though I personally have no use for regatta timing capability (the colored circles in the upper section of the dial), the watch has a really nice look to it. I particularly like the white dial model fitted on the mesh bracelet (pictured below). I’d guess the price to be in the $2,000 – $3,000 range — definitely making these watches worth a closer look. In general, I’d say that Alpina is on a roll this year (building upon several good years, really) — you should also check out the Alpina Startimer Pilot series that they announced back in March — truly a stunning watch.
Alpina is the sibling-brand of Frederique Constant, and also new haute horlogerie brand Ateliers deMonaco (I was the first blogger to write about the new brand) — all overseen by Peter and Aletta Stas. These brands, operating in the “accessible luxury” segment under the guidance of the Stas husband/wife duo, have made tremendous progress and experienced rapid growth in recent years. Note to self: keep a closer eye on Alpina!
Alpina Sailing Collection Watches 2011
Ref: AL-880LB4V6/ AL-880LS4V6
44mm stainless steel case, see-through case back, unidirectional bezel, automatic mechanical movement with yacht timer function, 200 meter water resistance, available on Black rubber strap / metal bracelet / mesh bracelet
black dial version on rubber strap:
There is an interesting artcile over at TheWatchLounge about the Alpina Extreme Tourbillon Regulator Manufacture which fittingly enough follows on the heels of another interesting post over there about the real worth of a tourbillon – I just have to throw my 2 cents in here, because it seems that Alpina is going to price this new tourbillon watch at around $50,000. Really? Alpina? Really? And to think they have 18 of them to sell.
Let me just say that when I think of Alpina I am NOT thinking of spending $50 large, even if it is a “fairly valued” tourbillon. If I can spend that kind of money on a watch, I am already a “Player” – and I don’t need to “be one” by owning an Alpina (Alpina’s current marketing slogan: “Be a Player”). Even with a nicely done tourbillon and silicon escapement. Do you see the contradction here, people? I also find the overall design of this watch highly lacking in its visual appeal.
While I could surely apply this analogy to several watches, this is the first it popped into my head so it will go to Alpina: this whole situation reminds me of Volkswagon’s move “upmarket” a few years back….turned huge flop – more commonly known as the Volkswagon Phaeton. Sure it is a souped up luxury car…but at the end of the day it’s still a Volkswagon!
While I admire its gusto, I think that Alpina is reaching way, way over its head on this one. That said (and note to Alpina): if and when you sell all 18 of them, please let me know and I will gladly give you the props you deserve for in fact properly assessing your market.
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