The Classicist: Alpina Watches, from Alps to Ocean
Alpina, the Geneva-based high precision sports watchmaker whose history dates back to 1883, has just introduced their very first underwater timepiece. The Alpina Extreme Diver 1000 Meters (above) employs similar technology and aesthetics as their line of mountain climbing watches such as the Avalanche Extreme Regulator, made for conquering the heights of the Swiss Alps. It's heritage however goes back much father.
From pocket watches, early wristwatches and timepieces commissioned for military use, Alpina, whose enthusiasts were known as "Alpinists," evolved its first sports watch, the steel Blockuhr, in 1933. This early model became the Alpina 4 in 1938. The "4" stood for the four major qualities of an Alpina sports watch: 1. Anti-magnetic, 2. Waterproof, 3. Anti-shock, and 4. Stainless steel. The sports watches were a tremendous success, and at its height in 1958 the company exhibited 1000 different models.
Gallery: Alpina Watches
In the '70s, Alpina along with many other Swiss watchmakers was debilitated first by the quartz crisis and the electronic watch craze. Although the fortunes of the mechanical watch began to revive in the '80s and '90s, Alpina was slow to recover at first. In February 2002, the company officially relaunched with the introduction of a new series of technical sport watches, composed of 25 mechanical models, some equipped with complications.
Our favorite, the Heritage collection, equipped with an automatic movement and a 1930s-inspired dial, establishes the link between the past and the present of the brand and re-captures the "Alpinist" spirit. The new Extreme Diver is the logical progression and an impressive addition. Its luminous hands and bold Arabic numerals and index markers are visible even in the depths of the ocean. The automatic timepiece has a 42-hour power reserve and helium escape valve to prevent damage caused by the build up of helium atoms in the watch case while ascending.
Packaged in an eye-catching electric yellow diver's air tank, the watch is available in stainless steel for $2,590 or in a full matte black version for $3,190. We're betting the latter will be the big get; demand for the full black version of the Avalanche Extreme so exceeded expectations that Alpina had to increase production capacity at its atelier in Plan-les-Ouates just to keep up. Obviously the Alpinists are back in full force.