Alpina makes sporty but classic watches. What does that mean, you say? Well, allow me to explain. The design of Alpina watches has always aroused my curiosity. While they hold themselves as makers of "wild, extreme,... Xtreme!" watches, they actually take much more influence from more simple classic timepieces. Which is an interesting concept when people are trying to push the envelope with design. Alpina seems to understand that their watches need to stay decent looking a few years from now, and build in a sense of ongoing appeal. In fact, these are watches that age nicely, as opposed being the type that capture your attention with novel looks, and then get stale with haste. Look over their collection and you will find a much softer, less brutal nature than the names of their watches might communicate. I actually just looked over their 2010 catalog and found that over 90% of their watches have the name "Extreme" in the title. This watch is one of the few that don't. But imagine what it would look like as the "Extreme Manufacture Regulator." Now you are talking! Actually they do have a watch called the "Extreme Regulator."
No, this is more easy on the eyes than something "extreme." The Manufacture Regulator here is one of many renditions of this collection that Alpina is fascinated by (meaning regulator watches). I believe that the Regulator used to not have an in-house movement, and now does (which is why "Manufacture" is part of the name). I don't know much about the movement actually, aside from the fact that they make it. I have a feeling it is based on another type of movement with Alpina's special treatment for the dial and the addition of the automatic winding system. The back of the watch is actually what drew me to this piece.
The movement is really quite nice, and I love the unique style of automatic rotor that Alpina places in the watch. A little visual trick making it look asymmetrical when it is actually balanced. The rotor is further in polished black steel, against a decorated movement surface. Note the blued steel screws, and the large balance wheel (which makes me think UNITAS). It is a sweet movement and a worthy visual to the "Manufacture" promise. Nice work on that Alpina.
Alpina likes large watches as much as I do. But this is a big watch at 46mm wide. It even wears large due to the cushion style case design. The surface of the steel is a mixture of polished and brushed surfaces while the bezel is PVD black with Alpina triangle style screws. The sport message is there, while the theme is not over done with loads of contrasting colors, angles, and surfaces. Emphasis is almost entirely on the round dial. Under the sapphire crystal the oh-s0-bold dial looks at you with its novel appearance.
Large, applied Arabic numerals in brushed steel inhabit the face while you search to make out how to read it. This watch is in fact not a traditional regulator. Regulator watches have the main dial for the minutes, and two subdials, one for the hours and one for the seconds. This watch has no seconds subdial. The subdial below is for the date. In the review video I mentioned how there would have been room for another subdial that could have been used for the seconds - I still feel that would have been an excellent design decision.
While the dial is fun, it is not something I personally would want to look at daily. But on certain days it hits the spot. One other change I would highly recommend Alpina to execute is the treatment of the subdial rings. The hours subdial is overlapped by the date subdial, and the intersection looks awkward. It would have been better for the dials not to touch, of if they did, not have one eat up the other dial, leaving too much visual gap. It isn't a big deal by any means, but something my trained eye picks up. In the end, the visual contrast of the red, black, and brushed steel are make the dial fun and unique. The watch calls a lot of attention to itself, and does so in a refined way that doesn't scream "what is that?!" I have to say that this piece does get a fair number of compliments. Oh, and I really like the design of the hour and minute hands.
Reading the watch in the dark is a bit tough. While the hour and minute hand have good lume on them, the markers don't. So unless you are really used to the dial, it won't be super easy to read the minutes and hours in the dark. At least not for me, as I like having at least a few of the hour markers lit up with lume.
The watch crown is large and comfortable. It has textured rubberish insert and is large in diameter. If this watch wasn't an automatic and only manually wound, it would be really nice to operate. The side of the crown has a cool looking Alpina red triangle logo motif in it. Wearing the Manufacture Regulator is an enjoyable experience. Actually, the watch is too large on me, but the large, flat underside of the case makes it so that it doesn't slip around my wrist. With a smaller strap it would be more snug, but I do have small wrists. The case is also 200 meters water resistant.
Alpina matches the watch to their thick black rubber strap. It features one of those nice "tuck-under" deployments where the excess strap is hidden from view. The push-button deployment is really cool looking actually (and works well), certainly a selling point of the watch. On outside of the strap you'll find "Alpina Geneve," and inside the strap you'll find "Alpina" written engraved in the rubber again and again as a repeating patten texture - a nice touch.
Price for the watch is a strong point. With a manufacture made movement, this Swiss watch retails for $3,750 (Ref. AL-950BR4AE6). The watch can be fun, and offers a type of style you can't easily find elsewhere. Alpina watches are actually popular in Europe. Do they have a solid formula for US appeal? I think so. Not with every model, but they have enough well-priced Swiss sport watches (with a classic soul) to leave many people satisfied. What is their top of the line model? Funny you should ask, it is the $52,500 "Extreme Tourbillon Regulator Manufacture." alpina-watches.com