HANDS-ON: Test your limits with the new Alpina Alpiner Extreme AutomaticRicardo Sime
Imagine you’re a watch brand. If you had a 20 year old watch model in your catalogue, what would you do? How would you breathe new life into it so that both fans of the brand, and those you’re trying to attract, feel moved? This is not an easy task and it is one that many older brands are still trying to get right. Yet it is something I think Alpina may have nailed with their new release: The Alpiner Extreme Automatic.
The Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic is a re-imagination of a model they first released nearly 20 years ago. Today, it comes in three variations: Midnight blue, forest green, and black. But, before we get into how these colours are integrated throughout, we first have to talk about the case.
We’ll start with the numbers. It is 41mm across with a 49.5mm lug-to-lug. Thickness is only 11.5mm. It has a screw down crown, which features a rubber grip, that is patterned in the same colour as the strap. And the case is rated to 200 metres of water resistance. With its cushion shaped case and these specifications, the Alpiner Extreme should wear well on the wrist.
However, for me, where the case really differentiates itself from previous iterations, is its angular design. Though the Alpiner Extremes were always angular, upon closer inspection, those angles were quite curved. On this version, those angles are sharper. Alpina also introduced a greater amount of surfaces with different finishes. Polished trim. Topside brushing on the lugs and bezel. All together, these changes elevate the watch and give it a more premium feel.
Moving in from the case, and displayed behind the sapphire glass, is the new Alpiner Extreme dial. It uses the Alpina logo in a repetitive pattern as its base, creating this three dimensional effect that adds to the sporty appeal. The ample amounts of lume used on the indexes, hours and minutes hands reinforce that.
I also appreciate how uncluttered Alpina has kept this dial and their attention to small design details. The red triangle counterweight on the central seconds hand is a nice touch, and the fact that the date wheel is white on black allows the calendar complication to better blend into the dial. The stepped radial minutes scale within the inner bezel also prevents the intriguing dial texture from being interrupted any more than it needs to be.
Securing the watch to your wrist is a supple rubber strap, which has an integrated design that transitions almost seamlessly from the case. As for its build, there is a square pattern on the topside, continuing the textured aesthetic we saw on the dial. This pattern travels down the entire strap, with heavy taper. Ending at a thin, signed, deployant clasp. On the underside of the strap, there is a barely noticeable scoop which will allow for better breathability.
When on the wrist, this all leads to more comfort. Add to that the fact that Alpina decided to have eyelets on the strap instead of going the “cut to size” approach, and long term wearability is that much better as well.
Powering the Alpiner Extreme is the AL-525 calibre. This is a Sellita SW200-1 based movement which has a 38 hour power reserve on a full wind. It beats at 28,800 vph and is a robust workhorse seen in a large amount of watches. Viewed through the exhibition case back, you can see Alpina has also kept the finishing of the movement simple with only its specialized rotor being the most notable decorative change.
Overall, I think the Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic is great example of a brand changing an old model to fall in line with the aesthetics of the day. Though many may chalk this up to just another integrated bracelet watch on the market, I couldn’t disagree more. Because at its price point, and with its cleaner design and more refined case, this could become a cornerstone model in Alpina’s catalogue. It’s now a family of watches I want to see grow. Down the line, I would even love to see a stainless steel bracelet added to the mix. With all these changes, the Alpiner Extreme Automatic is now perfectly positioned to help the brand grow, and I am all for it.
The Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic pricing and availability:
This Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic family of watches will be available in November. Price: $1,695 USD
|Alpiner Extreme Automatic
|41mm x 11.5mm x 49.5mm
|Blue, Green or Black
|Blue, Green or Black Rubber Strap
|AL-525 CALIBER – Sellita SW200-1 based
|Available November 2022