Geneva Watch Days: The New Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic is a Peak Performer for Alpina
The Geneva brand brings back a rugged classic from yesteryear, the Extreme Regulator, only this time with a slimmed-down case and revamped dial. And like the sunlit peak of Mont Blanc piercing through the clouds, perhaps we should have seen this beauty coming a mile off.
Seventeen years since the release of Alpina’s first Extreme Regulator, the new Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic boasts some reassuringly familiar traits of the original, including a clear regulator layout and assertive styled stainless-steel case.
But now, 41mm in diameter, the Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic’s case is far more compact and universally wearable and comes on a reworked, ergonomic rubber strap. What’s more is that the new textured, granite-gray dial plus navy-blue regulator sub-dials make for one of Alpina’s cleanest and most contemporary watch faces to date.
Made for Outdoor Adventurers
Founded in 1883 by Gottlieb Hauser and instantly recognizable thanks to its triangular, Alpine-peak logo, Alpina became an exemplar over the 20th century for sporty, robust timepieces designed for outdoor adventurers.
After a 30-year hiatus, the brand was resurrected in 2002 by Frederique Constant founders Peter and Aletta Stas. The pair of Dutch entrepreneurs identified with Hauser’s “Alpinist principle” and were intent on continuing his legacy of making reliable, professional watches engineered to withstand extreme environments.
One of the lines whose success helped put Alpina back on the watchmaking map was the brand’s regulator series, beginning in 2005 with the Avalanche Regulator, followed in the same year by the bolder, beefier Avalanche Extreme Regulator.
With the hours, minute, and second indications each presented in separate displays on the dial, Alpina rightly assumed that the clarity offered by the unambiguous regulator layout – born in the Age of Sail and at the dawn of the railway – would equally appeal to modern-day Alpine explorers. Then, gradually, Alpina extended its regulator line-up and replaced the “Avalanche” moniker with “Alpiner” as a reminder of the brand’s Alpine origins.
Just under two years ago, Alpina – now part of Citizen Watch Group – made a splash when it revisited its 2005 Avalanche Regulator to create the new Alpiner Regulator Automatic.
Fresh, elegant yet still pretty sizable at 45mm, this release was successful enough to give Alpina the confidence to tempt us with another throwback-inspired regulator: The Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic.
The first thing you notice about the Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic is its steel case (waterproof to 200 meters). Specifically, the heavy-duty design that was a signature of the 2005 edition is back. That is to say: It has a cushion-shaped caseband with a protrusion at 9 o’clock to mirror the crown guard at 3 o’clock, a round bezel bearing six visible screws with A-shaped slots, and broad angular lugs.
But now, that case has been slimmed down from 48mm to a more eminently wearable 41mm, affording a compactness that makes it a good suit for most wrists. And while each flat surface is still brushed, every edge is now more prominently beveled and polished, adding a touch of refinement among all the punchiness.
Contemporary Tones and Textures
As for the Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic’s dial, the regulator-style indications are laid out like the original Extreme Regulator: Central minutes with hours and seconds displayed on sub-dials at 10 and 6 o’clock, respectively. However, the dial tones and textures have a much more modern feel now.
The main dial is in granite gray – inspired by the hue of mountain rock – and decorated with an embossed lattice motif consisting of repeating triangles, another nod to the Alps and Alpina’s logo. It catches both the light and the eye nicely. And it provides the perfect contrast to the concentrically finished, navy-blue sub-dials, which are recessed slightly and dispense with the chunky border rings that characterized the Extreme Regulator’s dial back in the day.
Additionally, to complement the blue of the sub-dials’, the dial flange and rubber crown grip are also navy. Meanwhile, the three lancet-like hands and sloping, profiled hour indices are all treated with a white lume that glows green in the dark for enhanced legibility.
Reliable Automatic Movement
It’s not just the Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic’s body and face that have been updated; so have its mechanics.
Inside still beats a movement dubbed the AL-650 calibre. However, back in the mid-2000s, this reference was based on the hand-wound Unitas 6498. Now the AL-650 is, in essence, the automatic Sellita SW200.
Packing a 38-hour power reserve, it is a proverbial workhorse. Finally, the AL-650’s rhodium-finished bridges, gilded balance, and blackened winding rotor can be admired easily through the transparent display caseback.
Ergonomic Rubber Strap
The all-weather rubber strap is also blue to match the Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic’s predominant navy accents. According to the brand, the strap’s ergonomics have been revised so it will more easily adapt to the shape of the wrist for increased comfort. Featuring a textured central portion and integrating seamlessly with the case, the strap looks the part too.