Alpina introduces an Extreme Alpiner quartet on its 140th birthdayKylie Lloyd-Wyatt
It was birthday season at Watches and Wonders 2023 with Swiss brand Alpina celebrating its 140th year of existence. Established in 1883, Alpina has become synonymous with sports watches since establishing its core design tenants of anti-magnetic, steel, shock-resistant, and water-resistant watches way back in 1938.
In 2022, Alpina’s revamped Alpiner Extreme collection caught the attention of watch enthusiasts with its rugged, intentionally blockish and cushioned-shaped case on a rubber strap. Though criticism was few and far between, one loud request was for a steel bracelet to complete an integrated design. Alpina clearly listened because at this year’s Watches and Wonders, Alpina unveiled four new Alpiner Extremes, three of which have integrated steel bracelets.
Alpiner Extreme Automatic
This three-hander with date comes with the same case proportions we’ve come to know and love. The cushion-shaped case is a familiar 41mm with a reported height of 42.5mm, though solid end links means it wears somewhat larger than this. At 11.5mm, it sits with presence and heft on the wrist – no shrinking violets here. There is polished chamfering on the bezel edge and case flanks, circular brushing on the case body and vertical on the bezel adding finesse close-up, but the overall feel is appropriately rugged and toolish. The porthole-style bezel is fixed with Alpina-embossed rivets adding a nice touch. A rubber insert on the large crown makes time and date setting easy, including in gloves, if you find yourself in that sort of situation. The case is also 200m water-resistant, so even though it’s not a diver per se, it will be as happy in sea as it is on land.
But the star is the new H-link bracelet, which carries through the rugged case design so seamlessly, making it look like it was part of the original Alpiner Extreme concept all along. Finishing is consistent with the price point – not to exacting levels of perfection, but nonetheless smooth, sturdy, comfortable on the wrist and ready for action. The hidden double deployant clasp feels solid, though it unfortunately doesn’t offer micro adjustment.
The dial is similarly utilitarian, in either metallic grey or dark metallic blue, and embossed with a tessellated Alpina triangle pattern. Well-lumed hands and batons aid legibility in low light and the seconds hand is counterbalanced with a welcome flare of red, also sporting the Alpina logo. If legibility is key for you regardless of lighting, the blue dial perhaps offers a bit more contrast, though the grey is by no means problematic. A sapphire crystal with antireflective coating offers much needed scratch resistance on the hardcore adventures this watch wants to take you on.
Inside beats the AL-525, a simple three-handed movement based on the Sellita SW200, visible through an exhibition case back with 38 hours of power reserve. Both watches are priced at US$2,195
Alpiner Extreme Regulator
For the uninitiated, regulator movements separate the components of time to display each on a different pinion. First developed in 1700s clockmaking, regulator clocks and then watches, were widely used across various rail networks in the 1800s to ensure employees could easily synchronise timepieces. The complication fell out of vogue in more modern times, with Alpina one of the few brands still producing it. With its vintage roots, it seems appropriate for Alpina to reprise the regulator for their 140th birthday year, but this time in the more modern Alpiner Extreme collection.
The Alpiner Extreme Regulator case takes on the same overall proportions as the three-handed versions, though the movement necessitates it being that fraction thicker at 12mm. To me, the difference was almost imperceptible in the flesh, but others might notice it. The case finishing is also identical, as is the crown, save the rubber insert colours, with 200 metres of water resistance also making a comeback.
The dial in either dark metallic blue with grey (on the bracelet) or monochromatic metallic black (on a rubber strap) has the same tessellated triangle pattern on the main dial juxtaposed against subtle sunray sub-dials. Minutes are located on the centre pinion with lumed silver five minute markers positioned around the main dial edge. The hours are positioned at 10 o’clock and minutes at 6, both sub dials with printed markings. The dial text sits at 3 o’clock so that the watch feels balanced despite the sub dial placements. All the hands are lumed, allowing legibility in low light. It takes a bit to get your head around initially but once you’ve got the hang of it, the regulator format it a strangely intuitive way of telling the time. Luckily there is no date to complicate matters further.
The AL-650 movement offers 38 hours of power and can be seen through the sapphire case back, and is based on an ETA calibre.
Of course, a regulator in the Extreme is not all that’s new this season. The blue and grey variant is resplendent on the same new steel bracelet as the three-hand automatics, giving it that steel integrated sports appeal. The clasp is also the same. Not to be outdone, the black dial is matched with a sturdy black rubber strap with deployant, making it more of the stealth option and comes in few hundred dollars less.
Both Alpiner Extreme Regulators are limited to 888 pieces each, so get in quick to secure one. The blue/grey on bracelet version is priced at US$2,595 and the black on rubber at US$2,295