If you think of a pilot’s watch, there’s a good chance you’re thinking of a large round watch, with a black dial and bold Arabic numerals. Well, Alpina’s latest, the Startimer Pilot Heritage, ticks none of these boxes, but that doesn’t make it any less of a pilot’s watch.
The design of the Startimer Pilot Heritage owes less to the WWII era that’s commonly the reference point for this sort of watch; instead, Alpina has looked to the ’70s for inspiration, and clearly they found it, in an Alpina alarm watch called the Dispomatic. The 42mm tonneau is funky fresh, a wrist-friendly shape that’s not too tall at 12mm. And while the case has an uncommon shape, radially brushed bezel and polished sides, the face matches it step for step.
There’s quite a lot going on dial-wise. Offered in black, dark or light blue, and salmon (my personal preference), they all look great, thanks to the sunray finish under the box sapphire crystal. Beyond those basics, the finer details are also super ’70s: faceted hour markers with luminous tips, simple hands and vibrant orange hour hand, with a date window at three (complete with internal date magnifier). And then there’s the GMT function. Keeping true to the original Dispomatic alarm watch, Alpina has opted to do away with the more common GMT hand, in favour of a central disc, which will be instantly recognisable to fans of Omega’s Memomatic and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Memovox. However, this disc tracks a second time zone, in a 24-hour scale, which is indicated both at the outer section of the inner disc, and on the rotating inner bezel.
While the layout is uncommon, it’s not the only interesting thing about this watch; the other is the movement, the AL-555. Built off a Sellita base, the GMT module on this watch allows the wearer to adjust local time independently, in one-hour jumps, something that is very uncommon at this price point, as lower priced GMTs typically only allow you to change the GMT hand on its own.
I’m a really big fan of this watch, and not just because I’m particularly partial to dual crown ’70s tonneau cases (honestly, who isn’t?), but because it’s such a strong overall package. It’s got a strong, individual style that stands out from the pack, and offers some pretty strong functionality for a price that’s hard not to like.
Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage Australian pricing
Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage, steel on leather, $2200