Alpina is no stranger to the Smartwatch world. Over the last few years, we’ve seen them release a number of hybrid-connected pieces utilizing the smartwatch movement system developed by their sister brand, Frederique Constant. Most of previous smartwatches that Alpina released were connected takes on existing designs that they had in their portfolio. For the Alpina AlpinerX, Alpina has taken it to the next level. Targeted at the outdoorsman, the AlpinerX is armed with 5 sensors: a barometer, compass, altimeter, UV sensor, and thermometer, which all stream data to the user’s smartphone to analyze activity and identify areas for improvement while allowing the AlpinerX to receive smartphone notifications on its digital display.
At a price point of $995, the AlpinerX with its analog/digital design fits competitively between the higher end G-shocks like the Master of G or the G-Shock GBA-800, and the more expensive Breitling Aerospace or Omega X-33. Given its technology, and that Alpina chose to release the AlpinerX on Kickstarter, I believe Alpina is hoping to target a buyer-base outside of the watch nerd world, hoping to offer a true tool to outdoor enthusiasts who might otherwise wear a G-Shock or Suunto. Given everything packed into the AlpinerX, I’d say Alpina has created a solid use case for that, while also releasing a watch that warms the analog/digital loving portion of my heart.
The AlpinerX is large. There’s really no other way of putting it. At a diameter of 45mm, a height of 14mm, and a lug to lug of 55mm, there isn’t a shirt cuff in the world that this watch will fit under. With all of the functionality and sensors this watch holds, these dimensions aren’t unheard of; there are many G-Shocks that are just as large (or larger). The G-Shock Gravitymaster, for example, is 59.5mm in diameter, while another analog/digital watch, the Breitling Aerospace Evo, is 43mm in diameter.
Given the use case of this watch as a tool to assist you on your Everest expedition (or walking your dog, depending on your level of intensity), I think the dimensions are fine. It’s not likely a piece you’d want to wear to and from the office, but it’ll fit right in on the trail or at the campsite. On my 6.5” wrist, the size of this watch is definitely noticeable. However, to make the dimensions more manageable the case is made out of a glass-fiber with a steel caseback, which is very lightweight and comfortable on wrist. I could see some people having an issue with the case material not being a full metal like steel or titanium, but I actually like both the look and feel of the glass-fiber material on wrist.
Along the right side of the case, you have the two chronograph pushers and the crown, which all aid in accessing and using the functions packed into the watch (more on that later). Between the lugs at 12 o’clock, you’ll find the barometer sensor hidden, just one of the 5 sensors this watch holds, and gracing the caseback is a pretty stylish laser-engraving of the Alpina logo and a mountain silhouette.
Moving around to the front of the watch, the AlpinerX features a sapphire crystal, which is surrounded by a bi-directional rotating compass bezel. The action on this bezel is pretty solid, however the sound it makes against the glass-fiber case is not very pleasant, sounding slightly plastic-like. The bezel is fully lumed, and combined with the watch’s built in compass function, actually makes for a very useful tool – use the compass sensor to set the bezel, then let the hands return to telling the time as you continue your hike. The bezel is easy to grip and ultimately serves its purpose well on this watch. All together, the case of the AlpinerX supports this watch as an outdoors piece – there are no shiny surfaces, the case is lightweight, and the large dimensions allow enough space to fit all the sensors and functions.
The dial of the AlpinerX continues the tool watch aesthetic found on the case. The dial features lumed numerals at 12, 3, 6, and 9, and lumed indices for the other hour markers which contrast nicely against the matte black dial color (legibility is another big theme with this watch). At first glance, the dial on the AlpinerX retains a traditional watch design, where the “smartwatch” style really comes into play is with the digital display that occupies most of the bottom half of the dial.
This screen is able to display two lines of text & information, and is the primary method for navigating through and using the many functions and sensors packed into this watch. If you’ve ever tried out a Breitling Aerospace, the experience is very similar. You can have the digital display set to whatever function you find most useful, and go about your day with that information displayed as needed. Other hints of the technology in this watch are hidden around the dial, such as the UV sensor between the 8 and 9 hour markers.
The hands on the AlpinerX are a sword shape, with the back portion being skeletonized and the rest lumed. While the color of the hands can be customized during the ordering process, on my unit they are bright orange, adding another layer of contrast and legibility to this watch. I’m not a big orange guy when it comes to watches, so I’d probably opt for another color myself, but I do like the pop of color on this otherwise very black and dark watch.
The text on the dial is minimal, featuring the Alpina logo at 12, followed by “1883 Geneve,” and the designation “HSW Pro 100m/350ft” just above the digital display. HSW in this case stands for “Horological Smartwatch.” Overall, thanks to the hybrid analog/digital design, despite being a smartwatch, the AlpinerX has more “soul” on wrist than a pure smartwatch like an Apple Watch.