Baselworld 2019: How Alpina’s AlpinerX Is Changing What It Means To Be A Smartwatch
How the Swiss brand turned to Kickstarter to make a high tech timepiece built for the outdoors.
Most big-time wearable tech launches tend to take place at consumer electronic tradeshows. So at Baselworld, we were delighted to get a chance to experience the four new versions of the Alpina AlpinerX horological smartwatch up close and personal.
Alpina (owned by Frederique Constant) is one of those under-the-radar Swiss brands, so perhaps it's fitting that they presented these bold new timepieces in an unexpected manner. The company, which used the crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter to launch the watch in 2018, has once again turned to the online community to develop new designs and features.
WORLD WIDE WEB
The AlpinerX story is unique in so many ways. While there are plenty of Kickstarter watches on the web, Alpina has a long and respected history in the watchmaking world. The history of collaborating with buyers goes back to 1903, when the Alpinists, a group of watchmakers and retailers, would meet to brainstorm about future designs. Kickstarter represents a 21st-century version of this meeting of the minds.
Crowdsourcing proved to be such an effective fundraising and marketing tool that the brand decided to once again go to Kickstarter Community members to come up with four new color options for 2019. Those new looks are based on the most popular combinations suggested during the initial Kickstarter campaign.
While Alpina cut the list to just four variations, there is something for everyone in this expanded collection. The new color designs include a navy blue version with matching leather strap with orange topstitching and lining; a black model with white stitching; a style with a silver bezel, black body, and a light brown strap; and a silver bezel and black body variant with a black rubber strap.
In 2019, AlpinerX has also introduced a new technical feature: a heart rate tracker provided over a Bluetooth connection. This is in addition to functions such as sleep monitoring, dynamic coach, a world timer, smart alarms (get-active alerts, sleep alarm), and call and message notifications.
The rugged AlpinerX is also different than many smartwatches because it's built for outdoor activities. So it is equipped with environmental options like a UV indicator, compass, altitude monitoring, connected GPS, temperature and time recorders (stopwatch, timer, workouts), and a barometer.
The companion app for iOS and Android devices has also been tweaked with updates to the design and stat tracking.
With these color combinations and its analog/digital hybrid display, The AlpinerX throws off a bit of a 1990s retro vibe. In fact, because it doesn't have a touch screen, it doesn't look like a smartwatch at all. Instead, activity and environment information is displayed on the digital LCD display. You navigate the functions and scroll information via three pushers on the right-hand side of the watch.
Not only does the AlpinerX not look like wearable technology, it feels more like an example of fine Swiss horology. The leather bands and leather strap options look and feel super comfortable. Polished applied indexes, a convex sapphire crystal, and an adorned crown also convey a sense of substance.
At the same time, the AlpinerX is not trying to pass itself off as a traditional timepiece. It is an extremely useful watch. These four models all come in a rugged fiberglass 45mm case with bi-directional turning compass bezel. It’s certified ATM/100m/330ft water-resistant. And it is powered by an MMT-283-1 Horological Smartwatch movement with a two-plus years battery life.
With the AlpinerX, Alpina seems to be making all the right moves: connecting to buyers wishes and making them come true!
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell & Pierre Vogel)