It has been about 18 years since Swiss Alpina first debuted its “Alpiner Extreme” case design. Back then it was the brand’s answer to the various large-cased sports watches that were increasingly modern and robust looking in their design. The Alpina Extreme collection faded as tastes and the priorities of the brand changed, but now the Alpiner Extreme cases are back and in many ways better than ever. Today, I look at two chrono models in the Alpiner collection known as the Alpiner Extreme Chronograph Automatic shown here as the reference AL-730SB4AE6B (silver face) and the AL-730NS4AE6B (blue face).

Alpina is a historic watchmaker that was acquired by Geneva-based Frederique Constant. Later, the Citizen Group of Japan purchased the two companies, which have been under its aegis ever since. This is why Frederique Constant and Alpina have their own dedicated areas on the second floor of the impressive new Citizen flagship store in New York City on 5th Avenue that opened in December of 2023. Given the variety of prices we have seen from Alpina watches, the products have housed a variety of movements including quartz, in-house mechanical movements, and sourced mechanical movements. This Alpiner Extreme Chronograph Automatic uses a sourced automatic chronograph movement from Swiss Sellita (a variant of their SW500 series) that Alpina refers to as their caliber AL-730. The symmetrical layout on the dial has the time, a 12-hour chronograph, and a date window. The movement operates at 4Hz with 68 hours of power reserve and can be seen through the sapphire crystal caseback window. You can see the asymmetric automatic rotor, which is a nod to past Alpina Extreme watches that included this feature as well as asymmetric dials, often with regulator-style displays.

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In this Chronograph Automatic form, the Alpiner Extreme case still feels bulky but is smaller than previous Extreme cases with a bezel diameter of 41mm wide (closer to 43mm for the entire case) and a case that is reportedly 11.5mm thick. The various screws in the bezel and the overall cushion shape of the steel case make it look larger on the wrist. The case is water resistant to 100 meters and has a flat sapphire crystal over the dial. With these particular Alpiner Extreme watches, Alpina seemed intent on giving them an integrated bracelet look. That means rather than a strap, the case is now married to a surprisingly thin, and tapering matching brushed steel bracelet. While technically simple (no quick release or micro adjustments) the bracelet is handsome and very comfortable on the wrist. Not making the links too thick was a good decision from a style and ergonomics perspective. Visually, the design of the bracelet seems most inspired by those used on the Girard-Perregaux Laureato watch family, which originally debuted in the mid-1970s.

Alpina promises that even smaller and more slim-fitting Alpina Extreme models are coming soon. That means Alpina is invested in the Alpiner collection as being a major part of their product range in the coming years. It is true that given contemporary tastes, much of the buyer market would not be interested in the traditionally larger Alpina Extreme models. Alpina seems to feel that today’s market is hungry for a more refined version of this modern sports watch classic for the brand, which until now hasn’t hit a serious stride with collectors.

Continuing with trendy looks and colors, the dials of these two Alpina Alpiner Extreme Chronograph Automatic models have a lot to enjoy. First is the unique texture applied to the dial of repeating triangles, which is a clear nod to the brand’s triangle-style logo. The hands and subdials are very legible and the contrast coloring of the subdials gives an even trendier look to these sports watches. People enjoy this look very much, and I doubt that this silver with blue accents, or blue with silver accents, set of models will be the last from Alpina with this particular design language.

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On the wrist, the 41mm wide Alpina Alpiner Extreme Chronograph Automatic is quite comfortable, but it does of course wear large and is bulky by design. This might still not be a great choice for smaller wrists, but medium wrists can enjoy it. That is compared to more legacy Alpiner Extreme cases that only fit well on large wrists. Alpina is also very dedicated to fairer pricing, and they try to succeed most in this regard when attempting to have a clear advantage over the competition. With that said, traditional foes from places like the Swatch Group have upped their game in years past. A watch like the Tissot PRX Automatic Chronograph might not have as much detailing in the case, bracelet, and dial as this Alpina, but it does have a significantly less expensive price. Success for Alpina will come when people put these new Alpina Extreme watches on their wrists and get to experience them, but the brand does have a significant task in getting the word out to enough watch fans that they now have a solid entrant in the integrated bracelet steel sports watch model craze. The price for the Alpina Alpiner Extreme Chronograph Automatic reference AL-730SB4AE6B and AL-730NS4AE6B watches is $3,195 USD each. Learn more at the Alpina watches website

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