Straight out of the box, bronze is a perfect hue for a dive watch. Chameleon in nature, it can simultaneously evoke warm, nostalgic tones of maritime exploration, but a quick strap change can transform it into a more rugged, instrumental tool watch. The newest addition to the Alpina Seastrong Diver Heritage collection (ref. AL-525BR4H4) takes full advantage of both sides of the equation while mixing in a truly gorgeous chocolate-colored sunray dial with rose gold-plated applied markers that seem to be inspired by the aged “tropical” dials from the mid-sixties and seventies.
Now, what’s unique about this particular reference is that it’s not actually crafted from bronze like many of its contemporaries, but rather stainless steel that’s been finished with a bronze PVD coating. The upside to this, of course, is that the coating adds enhanced scratch resistance, while the metal itself retains its cheerful warmth for the life of the watch, rather than quickly taking on the heavily aged patina look that tends to divide so many dive watch fans. Even more clever, though, is how the overall design and color scheme evoke a strong nostalgic vibe — without the use of matte surfaces or the beige Super-LumiNova commonly found on many other vintage-inspired re-issue watches.
The Seastrong is somewhat unique in that it is offered in both modern and retro variations that happen to share very little outside their name. While the Seastrong 300 is imbued with a bold, distinctive, angular case (read our long-term review here), the Heritage edition follows cues from vintage compression-style dive watches with a thinner case silhouette, long pointed lugs, a generously domed crystal, and a unidirectional inner rotating bezel, which can be locked into position from its screw-down crown at 2 o’clock.
And though Alpina does have access to all the in-house manufactured calibers in the Frederique Constant family, the Seastrong Heritage is powered by Alpina’s AL-525 movement, an SW-200 clone, hidden through its solid screw-down caseback. (To be fair, it’s not a compression-fitted caseback like the vintage compression divers, but this is arguably a more secure alternative.) This 4Hz automatic movement bears around 40 hours of power reserve and features a framed date aperture just above the 4 o’clock index. It’s worth noting that, while this particular design detail has triggered an OCD response for many watch fans, I don’t mind it at all, as I find that it actually lines up perfectly with the winding crown at 4:00, providing a different line of semi-symmetry that actually looks quite cool.
The Seastrong Heritage originally joined the collection following the 2016 edition of Baselworld, where it was introduced as a “re-issue” that closely followed the twin crown, minimalist dial, and other design codes established by a 1967 diver. Of course the vintage counterpart was only ever available in stainless steel, making this bronze-plated edition more of an “interpretive history” example, rather than a direct re-issue, but the neat thing about it is how well it manages to come off feeling even more authentic to the vintage spirit than the re-issue from three years ago.
Alpina was wise to preserve the conservative case dimensions of the vintage counterpart — though slightly enlarged to 42mm, but still wholly wearable on my 6.5″ wrist. This is aided by the thin case silhouette and downward-turned lugs, which only measure 50mm from tip to tip (21mm between, if you’re casting a glance into your strap drawer for compatibility), further enabling the watch to wear comfortably. And though pictured on a lightly distressed brown leather strap color-matched to the dial, the Seastrong Heritage also ships with a stitched rubber strap, as well, which is perfect if you plan on taking this thing on vacation.
I’ll be the first to admit that I love the idea of worn-in patina as much as the next guy, but to be honest, after a year of hard wear of my previous bronze watch, I didn’t actually love the resulting patina, and I sold it. The bronze-plated Seastrong Heritage bridges that gap, lending me the cheerful bronze tones I craved, but for the full life of the watch, instead. And contrary to many full bronze-cased watches that tend to give off a muddy yellow gold hue after their first taste of saltwater, the polished sides of this case have more red, orange, and pink tones to them — like an icy copper mug that might hold a Moscow Mule from your favorite watering hole. These bright colors complement the sunburst chocolate dial beautifully, which really comes alive in the warmth of an early Northern California evening.
This Seastrong Heritage is competitively priced at $1,795, which is a slight premium over its stainless steel variant. For more information about the Alpina Seastrong collection of dive watches, visit alpinawatches.com.