Back To Roots: The New Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic
Sometimes going back to your roots is the best way forwards. And that’s what Alpina seems to be doing of late, having launched its next-generation Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic at the end of August.
Then, last week, the brand with the mountain peak logo last week announced a new, fine-looking interpretation of its tough time-and-date outdoor watch, the Alpiner Extreme Automatic, now available with three different eye-catching dial tones.
A Brand Moving with the Times
To its credit, Alpina was one of the first affordable Swiss luxury watch brands to recognize how the rise of smartwatches could threaten its market share. And back in 2015 (the same year Apple introduced its first Apple Watch), Alpina launched its own “Horological Smartwatch."
The company, now owned by Citizen Watch Group, has since built on this initial connected offering by developing the AlpinerX, a fully-fledged line of analog and ana-digi smartwatches packing motion and environmental sensors as well as Bluetooth connectivity to track health, physical activity, and surroundings.
Fun Fact: AlpinerX models account for as much as 35% of Alpina’s sales in recent years.
With that successful foray into the territory of smartwatches, it might have been tempting for Alpina to push further with its high-tech line-up at the expense of its more traditional mechanical and quartz adventure, pilot, and dive watch collections.
Not so, it seems.
Swiss Sports Watch Pioneer
All the latest signals indicate that the Geneva-based outfit is returning to its roots and embracing its heritage as one of the pioneers of the modern, mechanical Swiss sports watch.
After all, this was the brand that, inspired by founder Gottlieb Hauser’s “Alpinist principle,” became a byword over the last century for robust timepieces built to tackle the whole Alpine sports environment, from mountain climbing to lake diving.
The trend began in 1933 with Alpina’s Block Uhr and its innovatively durable crown design. Then came the ultra-sturdy, antishock, anti-magnetic, water-resistant Alpina 4 in 1938.
Almost two decades later, in 1957, the automatic Alpina President debuted, with the Alpina 4 chronograph with telemeter and units meter following closely on its heels in 1959.
And last but not least, there was the 20-bar, anti-magnetic Alpina Diver 10 Seastrong from 1969 that had two crowns, one standard and one to determine the decompression time using the bezel.
Return of the Alpina Alpiner Extreme
When Alpina was resurrected in 2002 after a 30-year hiatus, its Alpiner Extreme line – initially called the Avalanche Extreme – helped to continue the brand’s trailblazing legacy of making some of the best luxury sports watches made for outdoor adventure enthusiasts.
And it is the Alpiner Extreme that the company is now using as a platform to rekindle its mechanical watch DNA and reaffirm its candidacy as the go-to wristgear for those who like their watches rugged, reliable, and readable without any compromise on looks and wearability.
August’s announcement of the new-look Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic – which you can read our review of here – already hinted at Alpina’s intent to revive some of its standout mechanical watch models launched in the first decade of the new millennium.
Sure enough, the brand has followed that up with the time-and-date Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic. And along similar lines to its Extreme Regulator update, Alpina has worked on refining the Extreme Automatic’s stainless-steel case and revamping its dial.
With the new Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic, we see a return to the heavy-duty case design that characterized the Extreme line back in the day. Namely, a cushion-shaped caseband (with a protuberance at 9 o’clock that echoes the crown guard opposite it), a circular bezel with six screws with A-shaped slots, and broad angular lugs.
In the mid-2000s, some Alpiner Extreme references went up to a very beefy 48mm diameter. But, now, Alpina is catering to contemporary tastes by keeping the case dimensions to a more universally wearable 41mm by 42.5mm.
Another touch of modernity is the choice of finishing: A mix of vertical and circular brushing on the flat case surfaces offset by polished bevels, to excellent visual effect.
The case isn’t just about refined aesthetics but also utility, and the crown duly screws in to help provide 200 meters of water resistance.
The Alpiner Extreme Automatic’s dial also bears an updated design that brings it firmly into the 2020s. It features a lattice motif of repeating triangles in relief that serves as a smart background to the silver-toned, white lume-treated applied hour indices and hour-minute hands, as well as the framed date window at 3 o’clock.
Both the triangular dial texture and a red triangular counterweight on the central seconds hand are clear nods to Alpina’s logo.
Choice of Three Colors
Key to the Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic’s new look is the choice of colors that cover the dial, flange, rubber crown grip, and rubber strap. Three different hues are available, and each of these non-limited versions evoke tones you might encounter in the great outdoors: all-black, midnight blue, and forest green.
With a textured central portion, the all-weather strap integrates seamlessly with the case, and Alpina has reworked its ergonomics to make it adapt easily to individual wrist profiles.
Robustness Outside and Inside
It’s not just the Alpiner Extreme Automatic’s case that boasts a hardiness fit for the highlands. Inside it beats the AL-525 calibre that is, at its base, a Sellita SW200-1.
This tried-and-tested workhorse has been neatly finished, with its gilded balance and blackened winding rotor stealing the show through the display back. Its power reserve is 38 hours.
Final Thoughts on the Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic
Following on from its Alpiner Extreme Regulator, Alpina has scored another winner with its Alpiner Extreme Automatic. It is a versatile, legible, robust luxury outdoor watch with a Swiss-made movement at an attractive price – $1,695 – that looks really good and works well on mountain peaks, in nature, and underwater.
And let’s be honest, it won’t look out of place in the office and out on the town either.
With a renewed focus on its outdoor, mechanical heritage and an evident honing of its design smarts, it will be exciting to see what Alpina has in store next. For more information, please visit the Alpina website.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)