It feels like the longest time since we’ve written about Alpina’s mechanical watch offering which admittedly is mainly down to a change in focus from the new(ish) owners. The 136-year-old brand was gobbled up, along with Ateliers de Monaco [remember them?], by Japanese watch behemoth Citizen as part of the Frederique Constant sale three years ago. At the time Alpina had been pushing affordably priced, adventure-centric heritage designs like the Alpiner which, ironically, is exactly the kind of territory brands are falling over themselves to occupy these days.
But after the sale, the brand’s focus shifted radically; first it focused almost entirely on adopting Frederique Constant’s Horological Smartwatch technology, embedding it within the kind of sporty watches that Alpina is better known for and which Frederique Constant would have no place releasing, and then it launched a watch on Kickstarter. While the idea of a brand owned by a multi-billion Yen business launching a product on a crowd-funding site might at first seem odd it is not without precedent in the Japanese technology sector, where firms including Sony have used such crowd-funding exercises to gauge public interest.
So, it’s refreshing to be talking about a mechanical Alpina again, even if we are more interested in the look of the watch than its workhorse movement.
The Seastrong Diver Heritage is one of the last designs to come out of pre-Citizen Alpina in the summer of 2016, a handsome Super Compressor based on, if not an exact facsimile of, the Alpina 10 from the late 1960s.
The basic design of the watch hasn’t changed in the past three years. It’s still water resistant to 300m, uses the same 42mm stainless steel case with two screw-down crowns, one to control the inner rotating bezel, while an automatic 4Hz Sellita SW200 movement with 38 hours power reserve keeps time.
What is different is the bronze hue of the case paired with a rich chocolate brown dial with a mix of beige lume and rose gold-plated hands and indices. It’s a handsome thing even if the date window looks as though it doesn’t quite know where it wants to be.
Unfortunately, Alpina has confirmed that the best looking variant, which comes with a contrasting white inner rotating bezel, is not bound for the UK.
What is particularly interesting is Alpina’s decision to apply a bronze-coloured PVD coating to a £1,495 stainless steel watch in order to put a ‘bronze’ watch out. We’re not in the habit of buying metal in bulk here at QP, but we can’t imagine that even if bronze is more expensive than stainless steel (and we doubt that’s the case to begin with), it's hard to see it being sufficiently more expensive to render a genuine bronze Alpina unthinkable. After all it’s definitely easier to machine. Coloured PVD coatings (other than black, because everyone knows that black watches are cool...) feel more than a little unsatisfactory at this level.
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