William Baldwin Celebrates 130 Years Of Alpina Watches In The Cayman Islands

William Baldwin Celebrates 130 Years Of Alpina Watches In The Cayman Islands
William Baldwin Celebrates 130 Years Of Alpina Watches In The Cayman Islands   hands on

Alpina Extreme Diver 300 Orange

Alpina recently held an event on the island of Grand Cayman in honor of their 130th anniversary. This event, held at The Mansion at Camana Bay, was a celebration of all things Alpina. On hand for the event was CEO Guido Benedini, president of Alpina Frederique Constant Americas Ralph Simons, Frederique Constant Caribbean manager Michael Stauber, and Alpina brand ambassador William “Billy” Baldwin. The evening focused on Alpina’s history and future as well as a general love of timepieces.

William Baldwin Celebrates 130 Years Of Alpina Watches In The Cayman Islands   hands on

The Mansion at Camana Bay, Grand Cayman

Alpina has been featured on aBlogtoWatch primarily relating to their Extreme Diver line but not too much has been said about Alpina’s long history. It isn’t uncommon for brand names to be snatched up in a post quartz-crisis world for the purpose of selling inferior products at a premium based on name alone. This is the exact opposite of the path Alpina pursues. They seek to pick up the torch of the fallen brand and continue on into the future. Think of Alpina as a continuation under new management. That history started in 1883 when a man named Gottlieb Hauser founded the company.

Things went well for Alpina up until the 1970’s when the entire Swiss watch industry was crushed by the advent of quartz watches. Alpina remained independent but faded away during this time as a result. It wasn’t until 2002 when Peter Stas, of Frederique Constant fame, rediscovered and acquired the brand. Stas sought to do with the sport watch segment with Alpina, what he has done on the dressier side with Frederique Constant, which is to offer affordable luxury. Stas remained at the helm of both companies until this year when industry veteran Guido Benedini was tapped to take over as CEO of Alpina.

William Baldwin Celebrates 130 Years Of Alpina Watches In The Cayman Islands   hands on

Ralph Simons, Guido Benedini, William Baldwin

The event also served as a great opportunity to get a closer look at a number of Alpina’s newest offerings. Of particular interest was their Heritage Pilot models. The Heritage Pilot MKII is a re-creation of the brand’s pilot watch from 1926. This classic-styled, 50mm piece features a hand-wound movement visible through a display back protected by a beautifully engraved hunter case as well as applied indices and Arabic hour markers. It is limited to just 1883 pieces in honor of the year Alpina was founded.

William Baldwin Celebrates 130 Years Of Alpina Watches In The Cayman Islands   hands on

Alpina Heritage Pilot

William Baldwin Celebrates 130 Years Of Alpina Watches In The Cayman Islands   hands on

Alpina Heritage Pilot

The similarly named Alpina 130 Heritage Pilot Automatic Chronograph is one seen on a lot of press material lately. This 41.5mm bi-compax chronograph is available in both gold and stainless steel. The vintage dial might seem a bit asynchronous when the watch is flipped over to observe the movement and modern-looking Alpina rotor. The watch works well as a whole so I’m willing to give that a pass.

William Baldwin Celebrates 130 Years Of Alpina Watches In The Cayman Islands   hands on

Alpina 130 Heritage Pilot Automatic Chronograph

William Baldwin Celebrates 130 Years Of Alpina Watches In The Cayman Islands   hands on

Alpina 130 Heritage Pilot Automatic Chronograph

Alpina’s sister brand, Frederique Constant was also represented (to a lesser degree).  A number of their new tourbillon pieces were on hand, including this rose gold example. Despite some debate as to the benefit of a tourbillon escapement in modern wristwatches, they have become a rite of passage of sorts for brands in recent years. Frederique Constant’s offering is one of the most affordable Swiss-made tourbillons.

8 comments
DG Cayse
DG Cayse

I will step in an defend the choice of Billy for brand "Ambassador." He is the "Good Baldwin Brother."

Although I do think this Cayman Island thing is getting a bit long in the tooth, I do like the Alpina marque - both its history and its current course of offerings.

As part of the FC family, one hopes to see an increase in exposure and movement upward in the marketplace.

Panagiotis
Panagiotis

Get ALEC as brand ambassador in his "past-present-future self" from 30 Rock to endorse to watch for "all generations" and I'm sold. Heck, throw in a peasant joke and i'll buy one for my manservant.

MikeinFrankfurt
MikeinFrankfurt

Hmm...neat event I suppose. The whole "Billy Baldwin as the brand rep thing" has me completely flummoxed. I wouldn't buy a watch due to any famous person's endorsement, but can Billy Baldwin really be the difference maker for anyone? Odd. Interestingly enough, when I went to Basel this past year, Alpina's area was mainly frequented by Chinese folks...perhaps Mr. Baldwin is big in China?

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

Is the day/night hand on the upper portion of the dial a second time zone or just a day/night indicator? Either way useful, but a 2nd time zone would be that much better. It would be nice to see the Diver and Heritage Pilot with in-house movements (instead of using base ETA movements). But I suppose that will come down the road as FC/Alpina ramps up production of their mainline movements.

Stuart Russell
Stuart Russell

I'm struggling to really understand why Alpina have deemed the lesser-spotted Baldwin an appropriate brand ambassador. Similarly, the choice of venue seems a little strange - there are arguably better places to dive in the region and Grand Cayman is not exactly synonymous with Swiss watches. Tax evasion, perhaps, but other than that...? It's therefore difficult to see this event as anything more than a paper-thin, mutual back-slapping exercise. I'm sure the assembled guest had a splendid time but this is all fluff and no substance. Sorry, but if Alpina's marketing team think this is going to excite the punters, they'd best be looking for new jobs PDQ.


SGR

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

The Heritage Pilot and Pilot Chronograph are both gorgeous.  I'm used to seeing their dull divers but these are really great.  The chronograph is reminiscent of a B&M Capeland, which to me is a good thing.

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