True to its name, Alpina watches are undoubtedly among today’s high-performance yet affordable Swiss-made watches. As one of the pioneers in Swiss watchmaking, Alpina overall showed innovative feats that earned them their current reputation. Indeed, their watches are more known for their performance than empty grandeur. Besides the stylish features, their timepieces perform best in demanding environments. With a line-up of daredevils as ambassadors, the sports community undoubtedly trusts the brand and their watches.
The Legacy of Alpina Watches
Alpina has long been a pillar in the horological industry in Switzerland. Not only do they take pride as one of the pioneers in Swiss watchmaking but they also have great feats under their name. The brand specifically stands out for its sports watches. And there’s a reason for the achievement of such high-performance watches. Alpina watches undergo a rigid process as well as uncompromising quality control. The brand also seeks innovation even through the many years it soars through air, land, and sea.
Independent watchmaker Gottleib Hause generally had a hard time finding parts and materials for his timepieces. This struggle subsequently pushed him to create a union of fellow watchmakers in Switzerland. In 1883, he founded Alpina Swiss Watchmakers Corporation. In this union, he and fellow Swiss watchmakers shared parts and materials as well as ideas with each other. From thereafter, independent Swiss watchmakers got the nickname “Alpinists”. What started as cooperation afterwards became an in-house development for top-notch calibres. Eventually, the union began producing their own calibres and chronometers completely in-house.
Watchmaker Jacob Straub had the mark “Alpina” registered to protect calibres he made himself. Based on the Matterhorn Mountain in Switzerland, the mark adopted a triangular shape. In 1901, Straub registered the 12 and 19 calibres. This allowed for secure collaboration between the union and various high-end brands. Soon, the Alpina mark graced most high-end watches’ movements. The year also marked the 25th anniversary for the union. It was then that Alpinists decided that the brand needed an emblem that would carry the brand name. Thus, the birth of the red triangle emblem.
A Military Engagement
In the following years, Alpina would become a renowned supplier of timepieces for the military, especially for the navy and military pilots. The year 1913 was historic, and it opened an opportunity for Alpina to supply Chronometers for the German Navy. In detail, they supplied over 810,000 personnel with watches. In 1921, Alpina established itself as a manufacturer and supplier of watches for military pilots. Alpina also produced pilot legs watches used in the Air Force. The watches featured a huge strap worn over their uniforms on pilots’ legs, thus its name. To this day, these watches are collectors’ dream and are also very rare and expensive if found in the market.
Soon after this, in 1926, Alpina further proved the quality of their watches through the world’s first international watch guarantee. Without a doubt, this step became a testament to the quality, reliability, and precision of Alpina watches. This move also brought higher sales for the brand. Not to mention, most brands adapted the guarantee in an attempt to keep up with Alpina.
Pioneering the Sports Watch Evolution
As a brand with a track record for pioneering innovations, Alpina didn’t take a step back through the next few years. In 1933, Alpina released the world’s first sports watch of its kind — the Alpina Watches ‘Block Uhr’. The watch had a steel case that was certainly rigid as well as a patented new crown. The crown, never before seen, helped reduce the amount of dust that could escape through gaps with its screw-down feature. This, therefore, ensured the stability of the inner workings and movement of the watch.
A few years later in 1938, Alpina announced and launched the Alpina 4, another introductory legend in sports watches. The watch had four key features (thus, its name) that separate itself from watches at the time. The watch was antimagnetic, had antishock, as well water-resistant and made of stainless steel.
To explain, the antimagnetic feature keeps the movement from being magnetised to any electrical objects, allowing for greater accuracy and precision. The antishock feature doesn’t rattle the movement even when if knocked down during extreme sports. With its water resistance level, the bearer can wear the watch while doing snow sports. This hobby and sport have a massive patronisation in Switzerland to this day. Finally, the stainless steel case allows for the watch to resist scratches better through its 10.5% chromium content. This hard-wearing feature also makes the watch rigid and reliable.
Alpina 70, 4 Chronograph, and Diver 10 Seastrong
For years, Alpina developed watches aligned with high standards and demands of the sports industry. For the brand’s 70th anniversary in 1953, they introduced the Alpina 70. Not only did the watch have the Alpina 4 features but it also had the 592 and 598 calibres. Moreover, the dial of the watch had a golden logo that became extremely popular at the time. The most expensive listing for the watch today is at £55,000.
The Alpina 4 Chronograph, launched in 1959, had the best of Alpina sports watches and more. In addition to the 4 key features, the watch featured a telemeter chronograph. To explain, this measures the distance using the speed of sound. Proven over time by their sales, the Alpina 4 Chronograph was a very much needed creation for sports enthusiasts. At the time, Alpina’s reputation was at its peak, becoming a benchmark in accuracy, quality, and precision for all watch brands.
Ten years later in 1969, Alpina launches a Diver watch called the 10 Seastrong. With a self-winding calibre and a17 jewels, the 10 Seastrong was the ultimate diving watch of its time. It had two crowns: one to used to adjust time and the other to determine decompression time through a -60 min rotating bezel.
The Quartz Crisis
Just like all Swiss watchmaking companies at the time, Alpina suffered through the Quartz Crisis. After Seiko released the first commercial quartz watches in 1969, the whole Swiss watchmaking industry was in turmoil. The Japanese technology that moved the world greatly affected their economy. To cut their losses, Alpina reduced operations back to only Switzerland and Germany.
For years, Alpina was at a loss. It served only two countries until Dutch entrepreneur Peter Stas came in. Stas rediscovered the brand’s horological history and legacy. Stas was the founder of Frédérique Constant. Thus, in 2002, Frédérique Constant acquired Alpina.
Partnerships and Ambassadors
Alpina watches are undeniably a big part of the sports industry. From skiing, diving, and other extreme sports, Alpina surely has the watch that lives up to any athlete’s expectations. So, as a traditional sports watch brand, Alpina taps Alpine skiers, snowboarders, free riders, ice-skaters, divers, adventurers, and skippers. Alpina refines “Alpinists” to collectively call the whole Alpina family. These people abide by the Alpinist principles: be perseverant, think independently, trust your instincts, and most importantly, don’t forget your roots.
Today, Alpina has 16 ambassadors that represent Alpinist vision and principles. To list a few, they have French alpine skier, skier-cross, snowboarder, free rider, base jumper and surfer, Enak Gavaggio. The brand also has Swiss water adventurer Yann Scussel as well as French ski champion Irene Curtoni as ambassadors.
Aside from the brand’s renowned ambassadors, Alpina works with various organisations in the preservation as well as protection of snow sports and more. For instance, the brand constantly works with the Freeride World Tour, a worldwide circuit of freeride snowboarding and skiing. Moreover, the Swiss watchmakers help promote and develop snow sports through the French Federation of Ski. It also helps in the promotion of ski hotspots with the help of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc and ESF le Grand- Bornand. In addition, Alpina has a three-year partnership with the American National Park Foundation in support of their advocacies.
Best Alpina Watches From Each Collection
Today, Alpina has five collections that represent every adventurer. Every watch from the collection is built to withstand every landscape, tidal wave, and possibly even a hurricane.
The Alpiner is probably one of the most popular collections from the brand. Great for land adventures, the Alpiner is a collection of strong and sturdy as well as accurate watches. These timepieces, like most of Alpina watches, can resist the toughest conditions. The collection anchors itself to the Alpina 4 launched in 1933.
Meanwhile, the 1969 Alpina Diver 10 Seastrong finds a new generation of Seastrong watches made for the waters. On the other hand, their Startimer collection of aviation watches take on the air. Timepieces from the collection have clean and readable dials as well as traditional oversized crowns.
Alpina also has timepieces made for women collectively under the Comtesse collection. These watches are as sturdy as they are feminine. For their most recent creations, the Swiss watchmaker took on the smartwatch industry with the AlpinerX.
But among the many watches in the collection which ones are the best? Check out our suggestions below:
1. Alpiner 4 Manufacture Flyback Chronograph
Get the best of Alpiner 4’s key features as well as a flyback chronograph with this watch. The Alpiner 4 Manufacture Flyback Chronograph is probably one of the best watches from the brand. Besides the four key features of the Alpiner 4, it also has a patented “direct flyback” technology.
The watch’s design doesn’t deviate far from other Alpiner 4 watches. However, the flyback chronograph makes a whole lot of difference when it comes to function and design. A flyback, as you would know, is a complication that allows the chronograph to be reset without being stopped. An answer to a demand in sports, the watch also has a telemeter on the dial. The model comes in either stainless steel or stainless with a black PVD coating case.
2. Startimer Pilot Chronograph Big Date Shadow Line
The Startimer Pilot Chronograph Big Date Shadow Line is as stylish as it’s functional. Every aviator would love to have this in their collection. For one, the watch has very refined details that don’t sacrifice function. Most importantly, it’s a chronograph, a feature most aviators need.
The Alpina Startimer Shadow Line is a subfamily of Startimer watches with darker hues. Only its luminous hands and markers stand out to keep away from distractions. Shadow Line watches are water-resistant for up to 100 meters (330 ft.). But perhaps, the chronograph iteration of the model stands out due to its powerful calibre. The AL-372 quartz calibre allows for the watch to measure 1/10TH of a second.
3. Seastrong Diver Heritage
Seastrong is a pioneering watch for Alpina. As a nod to its predecessor, the Alpina Seastrong Diver Heritage takes on a refined aesthetic with the prowess of a sports watch. At first glance, you wouldn’t think it’s a diving watch. However, the devil is in the (hidden) details of this one.
To set a strong case for a diving watch, the Seastrong Diver Heritage displays a more simple look compared to its cousins in the collection. Not only does it have a clear wide dial but it also has wide-set lugs. This furthers the watch’s wearability in the water as well as for daily use. The watch’s crowns are located at 2 and 4 o’clock. The 4 o’clock crown controls winding as well as time and date setting. Meanwhile, the crown at 2 o’clock controls the internal dive bezel. The watch can be taken as deep as a thousand feet below sea level. In other words, the water-resistance of the watch is up to 300 metres.
4. Alpiner Comtesse Sport Quartz
Don’t be mistaken with the delicacy of this watch’s aesthetic. The Alpiner Comtesse Sports Watch is a strong statement about femininity. Not only does this watch imbue elegance through its design but it also has the very latest in Quartz technology.
To say nothing of, the case measures a fine 36.5mm in diameter. It also has a scratch-resistant convex sapphire crystal and water resistance of up to 60 metres. Moreover, the model comes in three various dial colours — blue, black and silver (as pictured above). Each watch has white luminous treatment on the hour and minute hands. But to add a dash of elegance, eight diamonds stud its markers.
5. AlpinerX Red Bull Air Race Team 99 Limited-Edition Watch
American aviator Michael Goulian collaborated with Alipina in designing the AlpinerX Red Bull Air Race Team 99 Watch. This limited-edition watch, with just 250 pieces available, is surely any sports enthusiast’s dream. It stands out not only for its design but also for its purpose of creation. The watch is in celebration of the 2019 Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Deviating from the usual smartwatch design, the AlpinerX is a horological smartwatch. It displays both analogue and digital screens. But in creating a special-edition watch, Goulian made sure to put elements of his adventures in the watch. The dial is lined with a yellow ring that reflects the colours of his US-based air show plane. The Team 99 logo is also on the dial. Every AlpinerX has features that top other smartwatches.
To enumerate, this watch has activity and sleep tracking features, a dynamic coach, world timer, alarms and notifications, and UV indicators. It also has an altimeter, compass, thermometer, and barometer. Not to mention, it features a time recorder that every sports enthusiast will find useful. What’s more, it is water-resistant for up to 100 metres and comes with a comfy yellow rubber strap.
Alpina Takes You to Greater Heights
There are a lot of sports watches in the industry. But with Alpina’s surprisingly radically-priced sports watches, every adventure is just around the corner. With its history proving itself to be a pioneer in the industry, Alpina can surely take innovation further in the coming years.
Looking for more sports watches to discover? Check out the top 8 luxury sports watches for men.