Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Perhaps best known for their Seastrong diver’s collection and their Startimer pilot’s watches, Alpina have, in recent years, branched out by producing their own manufacture calibers as well as their first smartwatch. However, Alpina’s core strength remains their ability to produce high-quality casual and sports watches at far more accessible prices than many of their larger Swiss relatives. We've covered Alpina's outgoing Startimer pilot's watch collection before right here, and earlier this year Alpina released an updated Startimer collection, the Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Al-525 watch, a 44mm tool watch that we go hands-on with here.

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On
All images by David Bredan

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Taking even a brief look at the Startimer Automatic, it’s clear to see that Alpina are tipping their hats to some of the great military and pilot’s watches of the past. On the dial, oversized applied luminous numbers for hour markers alternate with large rectangular luminous indices at twelve, three, six, and nine which all sit inside of a printed ring graduated at one-minute intervals and labeled in five-minute increments. Taken together, the dial elements very purposefully provide the aviation instrument feel. The dial itself, and indeed the watch, are available in four distinct variations; black, white, white with gold accents, and a sort of dark grey. A red triangle, an Alpina signature, sits prominently at the top marking the sixty/zero minutes position.

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

The luminous hands are a slim, curved sword style with a stick seconds hand which once again features the red Alpina triangle, this time as a counterweight. Dial printing of the Alpina logo and signature is large, though given the 44mm case and ample dial real estate, it is not overpowering. Other than that, the dial is marked with “Automatic 100M-330FT” and “Swiss Made” in its traditional six o’clock location. Overall, the dial is effective and attractive. One of the key elements of any pilot’s watch is instant legibility and the Startimer Automatic has that in spades given its clear and clean layout. Some may take offense at the repetition of Alpina’s triangle which appears no less than three times in the dial and hands but, quite frankly, that is simply how Alpina rolls and you see their logo everywhere in their collection. The inclusion of an anti-reflective sapphire crystal ensures unfettered viewing of the dial despite variable lighting conditions.

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Moving to the case, which is 44mm by 10.7mm in size with a brushed finish and an extremely minimal utilitarian design, we see again how Alpina are paying homage to important pilot’s watches of times long past. Absent are any intricacies in alternating finish or complicated case shapes or bevels. The tool watch feel is evident here and gives the watch a no nonsense aesthetic which plays into the pilot’s watch concept. A simple but neatly engraved case back adds to the utilitarian concept. A minor issue for me is the use of case plating on two of the four variations of the Startimer Pilot Automatic. While I understand the drive to produce a “gold” and a “titanium” version, I think the idea of case plating is a little distasteful for some who know this plating can easily wear off with use, especially on a tool watch.

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

In addition, the Alpina Startimer Automatic’s width of 44mm at a relatively thin 10.7mm could be a challenge for those with smaller or rounder wrists though I understand why the watch is a bit big as size is another important aspect of a pilot’s watch. Consider the popular IWC Big Pilot at a whopping 46.2mm or a real vintage military pilot’s watch such as the Laco B-Uhr at a now unwearable 55mm (designed to be worn over a flight-suit) and the Alpina begins to look like a more reasonably sized option with just enough heft to let you know it was designed with aviation heritage in mind.

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

When you’re talking about a fully featured Swiss made watch at a price point like that of the Startimer Automatic, you expect to end up with a somewhat less impressive movement to provide some savings but in this case, the Alpina AL-525 caliber gets the job done. Although it’s essentially a base grade ETA 2824-2 with an Alpina rotor, the 38-hour power reserve AL-525 is exactly the right kind of movement for the spirit of this watch and enables the extremely approachable price of entry. When you get right down to it, a pilot’s watch requires little more than an accurate and robust movement and the ETA 2824-2 has had that exact reputation for decades. Servicing is also easy with such a ubiquitous caliber and any capable watchmaker should be able to keep it in shape. One thing I want to mention that I really like is the large crown, which is a nice tapered design.

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Frankly, I can’t argue with what Alpina has done with the Startimer Pilot Automatic. Sure, there are more impressive watches with aviation styling but not many come close when you take into account the list of features on the Alpina. You’re getting a reliable Swiss movement in a Swiss made package with a tastefully done pilot treatment for a price of around $1,000, which is a sweet spot for many collectors and general buyers alike. In a watch world of ever increasing options, with micro brands nipping at the heels of major players, Alpina have survived and thrived by creating value propositions like the Startimer Pilot Automatic. Alpina have mastered the art of taking some of the higher end design ideas of larger brands, sending them through the Alpina mixer, and releasing them at prices regular people can actually afford. Despite my minor issues, for me, it’s a concept which really takes off.

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Watch For 2017 Hands-On Hands-On

Keeping the Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic faithfully attached to your flight-suit, or in most cases, your wrist, is a heavy black leather strap with contrasting white stitching, which is the same no matter which of the four versions you select. No word of a bracelet has been yet announced. As previously mentioned, the Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic AL-525 is available in four variations; stainless steel with a black dial, stainless steel with a white dial, a polarizing rose gold plated version with a white dial, and a “titanium colored” version with a dark grey dial. The two steel versions will retail for $995 while the rose gold plated and titanium versions will come in at $1,295 and $1,050 respectively. alpinawatches.com

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (23)
  • I want it! (19)
  • Interesting (9)
  • I love it! (7)
  • Classy (4)
  • Pete Pete

    don’t like flieger style watches, but for those who do, this seems like a solid offer.

  • A_watches

    micro date?! white dial might have legibility issues, otherwise ok

  • Not bad Alpina.

    I know that the placement of the date really means the movement is small for the oversized case, but it actually serves to keep the numerals/markers in tact, which is a YAY. But I have a crazy idea – why not burn the date with fire and never speak of it again???

    Overall this is a good looking watch, minus the giant popcorn bucket crown. I get that you need bit obnoxious crowns to retain the pilot DNA, but if you just used a nice chunky regular crown I wouldn’t report them…

  • Mark1884

    Any “plated” case is totally unacceptable.
    The SS case with black dial looks ok though.

    • Moonraker

      Did you go to Alpina’s website to see it? Could be mistaken, but I don’t think there are any pictures of the black dial with this article.

      • Mark1884

        No, did not go to website. One pic looked black to me, and the end of article describes one variation as SS with black dial.
        Looking again, the pics are probably all grey dials.

        • Moonraker

          Yeah, there is one picture that I thought could maybe be the black dial, but I think they’re all the gray faux-titanium version.

  • Word Merchant

    It’s ok. Was it worth an article? Probably not.

    • Pete Pete

      most likely yes. otherwise there’s just the daily sponsored kickstarter garbage left to read.

      • Word Merchant

        “Two childhood friends had a vision…”

  • John Stevens

    For those that like pilot watches this doesn’t look bad but the crown is too large for the case

  • Yan Fin

    Where do we get enough airplanes for all those pilots?

    • Word Merchant

      At the same time we get enough ocean for all the divers.

      • Yan Fin

        What a deep observation!

      • Berndt Norten

        How deep is the ocean?
        How Swiss can we be?
        How’s Mutt how’s Shania?
        Living so swappily

        • Moonraker

          When you do the Swiss Mix
          The cocoa’s much hotter
          But then you have to wonder
          Is my daughter his daughter?

          • Berndt Norten

            Doesn’t she have a boy named Asia or Aja or something like that?

          • Moonraker

            Yeah, a son named Eja (pronounced Asia).

    • Berndt Norten

      Send in the drones.

      • Yan Fin

        Here’s a kick-ass Kickstarter watch name: Drone Commando

        • Berndt Norten

          With Arnold as brand ambassador. Let off some steam, Bennett!

      • spiceballs

        there ought to be drones, don’t bother, they’re here.

  • BNABOD

    It you can buy the IWC Mark XVII for 4 times as much with a sw300. You decide.
    I had a startimer w in house and sub second at 6 and it looked really nice super legible but just a tad too big for my taste.

  • SuperStrapper

    It like to see Alpina bring back their regulators but put them in these “startimer” cases. It would be a win.

    • Berndt Norten

      I’d like to see Alpina
      Take a hike
      In the price department
      Like that puppet
      On The Price is Right
      I think they are walking
      Far from the cliff edge

      And isn’t it ironic.
      (Don’t u think)
      One of the best Swiss value propositions
      Probably would do better
      By signalling they is more ‘upstream’
      By raising their prices
      Dig?

      • SuperStrapper

        If you’ve never handled one, you may be surprised. They make a very nice watch for the money. I’ve wanted on of those ‘manufacture’ regulators for a while, but they all come in a silly case with crummy integrated strap/lug arrangement. I’d like one I can make an ammo for as I think that would look appropriate.

        • Moonraker
          • SuperStrapper

            Centre seconds > sub seconds > no seconds. So sub is preferable to none. Those are interesting and I assume the one with date is a manufacture variant (alpina has regulators thay are hand wound 6498-based, and others that are automatic with “in house” [FC] movements) and I’m not sure if I knew it existed. I stopped looking years ago because the ‘avalance/extreme’ regulators come in ugly 46mm cases with a shabby looking integrated lug/strap combo.

          • Moonraker

            They are said to be ‘manufacture’, but I can’t find any startimer regulators with seconds. These all seem to have the date.

          • SuperStrapper

            I don’t think the manufacture regulators have seconds, I believe them all to be date instead. Having both centre seconds and minutes on a regular like this would be very cool. The only watch I know that does that is the uber-cool Alexander shorokhoff chronograph regulator, a watch I bought once and will buy again.

            This isnt the reference I had but I think it would be the one I get next time.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/05ed4adfd5845ca8bb617f4b0128d623953613a84dfa083ca7125a81e8c72c4b.png

        • Berndt Norten

          I have seen one in person, but a while ago. It’s not a brand I see often in the ritzy stores in (and out) of which I do the lèche vitrine. You’re correct; they are nice watches, but they seem to be poorly placed in the market.

  • Phil leavell

    I may not know a lot about watches but I love money .
    Swatch group, Richemont must learn a new song.
    I’m turning Japanese I really think so

    • Pete Pete

      just in case, if anyone hasn’t heard yet or is wondering what phil is saying: alpina is owned by the japanese citizen watch group

      • Moonraker

        Oh, thank God. I thought it was about masturbating. I really thought so.

      • Berndt Norten

        We speak round here in riddles
        We speak round here in rhymes
        You want straight up?
        Better git some Abdul
        You want straight ahead?
        Get yourself a tool
        And watch what happens
        When the rhymes start slappin
        We’s bustin da wild thang

    • Berndt Norten

      I don’t know much
      But I know I love —
      That may be
      All I need to know

      • Moonraker

        Look at this crank,
        Don’t you think that it needs yanking?
        Look at this monkey,
        It’s in for a good spanking.

        I don’t hike much,
        But I’m in the Alps now.
        Perhaps I should
        Not do this outside.

        • Berndt Norten

          You da boss
          U rhyming magician
          Hip hop tactician
          Man on mission
          (Don’t mess with)

          • Moonraker

            I’ve got crazy court vision.
            Like LeBron, but more precision.
            Like May & Mercury, One Vision.
            No culinary indecision.
            So gimme gimme gimme
            Fried chicken.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            I have no clue what you two are on about.

          • Berndt Norten

            Are you threatening me? Huh, huh ha ha…. I need Piccata!

          • Phil leavell

            Sorry u been Trumped on this one

          • Moonraker

            You’re like the Mark Rylance of this comment section. “Clunk clunk.
            I don’t go in for much of that fun, as you call it. Am just a wee bit bored by all this so I think I’ll have a lie down. Maybe I’ll mow the grassy-wass later as it’s getting long and such.” 🙂

          • Berndt Norten

            Neither do i

          • Berndt Norten

            Gimme a Moonraker after Midnight
            down at the Oasis
            I’ll be electric–you’ll be electric too
            We’ll invite Danny, Mikita and Sheez Gagoo
            down on Electric Avenue

          • Berndt Norten

            Tesla emits nothing but subsidized snake oil emissions. Musk has benefitted from over $5 b in subsidies and tax breaks. Nothing he makes comes to market without the visible helping hand of Uncle Sam and other snookered governments. The little people pay for $14k cash handouts per Tesla in the province of Ontario. The cars cost over 80k. Paying the wealthy for the privilege of posing as Eco-friendly do-gooders (as they drive to their cottages).

        • Berndt Norten

          Let’s go outside….

      • Phil leavell

        Sorry have hard time typing
        ??

        • Moonraker

          ?You’re an old woman who loves McDonald’s?

          • Phil leavell

            Brain fried meds ??

          • Berndt Norten

            Brain Salad Surgery

          • Phil leavell

            Maybe Nov. Wait to see how meds do

          • Berndt Norten

            Sorry. Don’t mean to make light of a situation. It’s the name of an album. By ELP. Wasn’t aware u were being serious.

          • Phil leavell

            No please do. The wife and I have been using Kindergarten Cop lines for about 2 months.the odds are good and I profur humer not quit er

          • DanW94

            Welcome back my friend
            To the blog that never ends
            We’re so glad you made amends
            Post a rhyme, post a rhyme….

          • Moonraker

            He did (short) time
            For no crime
            But Kravitz Design sucky sucky
            And haunt him long time

          • Berndt Norten

            ABTW is the place where,
            when you gots 2 go there
            they gots to take you in, homes!

            I have a white dialled Grand Seiko
            And ladies by the score
            Speaking in pig Latin
            And waiting by the door

            Ooooh, what a lucky man
            I is
            Ooooh, what a lucky man
            I are

            White dials and gold dust
            make up my bed
            A gold covered mattress
            on which I get —-

            Ooooh, what a lucky blogger
            I am

          • DanW94

            Sometimes you want to post
            Where everybody knows your name
            And the jokes are corny and lame
            You wanna be where everyone sees you’re a bigger douche than Frasier Crane
            You want to post where everybody knows your name

          • Word Merchant

            We’ve got thrills and shocks
            Citizen’s crappy clocks
            Janis Trading gets the knocks…
            Prices rise, prices rise.

          • Phil leavell

            Took sometime fixed it

          • Moonraker

            ?You’re a guy in a turban who loves McDonald’s?

          • Phil leavell

            Mmmmm. Fry’s ?

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Super boring™

    *Clunk™

  • Shinytoys

    I do like mine…it isn’t the diver, but very similar, but for me it represents great value and a super clean watch…

  • commentator bob

    With all of the resources Citizen, the owner of Alpina, has available you would think they could make a better pilot’s watch for the money than Sinn, Stowa or Laco, but that is not the case. You can get a much nicer watch from one of those brands for $1,000. Or you can get a similar Hamilton for $500 or less grey.

    • Slymenstra Hymen

      yeah I’m with you, it isn’t a ‘bad’ watch, I don’t think I could get any excitement for it though

  • Simon_Hell

    I hear Alpina has fired their ambassador William Squinty Baldwin, as reportedly they couldn’t afford him anymore. Even though he only works for food since Fair Game.

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/5c/2a/42/5c2a4258d7b483b4e1ad88518d5e088b.jpg

    • Phil leavell

      Maybe the the guy from Sinn. Fletcher I think was his name is still looking for work.

  • Ross Diljohn

    A staple of airport duty free shops everywhere. Except North Korea.

  • spiceballs

    Its OK except date should be at the “6” position IMO.

  • Larry Holmack

    Love this sentence…

    “Consider the popular IWC Big Pilot at a whopping 46.2mm or a real vintage military pilot’s watch such as the Laco B-Uhr at a now unwearable 55mm (designed to be worn over a flight-suit)…”
    Unwearable….unless you have a 9 inch wrist!!!! I imagine I could actually wear the Laco B-Uhr rather comfortably.

    This one is rather nice looking, although a little small for my taste….

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  • Pete L

    Great value. Don’t like the plated ones though.