New Alpina Startimers ¶
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Since we introduced Alpina to the Montreal market some three years ago, we here at Matt Baily’s have seen the brand evolve from a small manufacturer of quirky sport watches into a well-respected marque producing very desirable watches for very reasonable prices. This year Alpina has introduced a slew of new entry-level models that are very reasonably priced while still showing a marked improvement in quality. Chief among these new models is the Startimer Pilot series, which was announced earlier this year alongside the Sailing collection. After several months of anticipation, we finally have the Startimer collection in store, and they do not disappoint.
The big-pilot is one of the most recognizable watch designs of all time. The originals were the Fliegeruhr (pilot watch) and Beobachtungsuhr (navigator watch) used during the 1930s and 40s by German aviators. The design brief was to have a large wristwatch that could be worn on the outside of a flightsuit with a highly legible luminescent dial. Fligeruhrs featured a standard 12-hour Arabic numeral dial, while the Beobachtungsuhr (B-Uhr) had a larger Arabic minute scale with the hours indicated in the centre of the dial. These watches were produced by a number of companies, including IWC, Wempe, Laco, Lange, and several others. Nowadays IWC is the best-known producer of big-pilot watches, but many other brands make recreations of the originals.
The Startimer takes the style of the original Fliegeruhr and makes it a more wearable everyday watch. While the originals were 55mm, and the current IWC Big Pilot is 47mm, the Alpinas are a reasonably sized 44mm. The case is a simple, slim design with a nice mixture of brushed and polished finishing. It wears well, with a big face and expansive dial area but while remaining relatively slender for an automatic design of this size. The chronograph has a thicker case to accommodate the Valjoux calibre movement, but it is still not as big and hefty as the IWC Big Pilot. The crystal is sapphire item with an anti-reflective coating, lightly domed and fitted into a thin polished bezel. The crown is a large and easy to manipulate item, in keeping with the pilot theme. Meanwhile the chrono has very big pump pushers that are easy to use and have a very solid feel – it’s the type of chrono you can easily use with gloves on.
An exhibition caseback shows off the nicely detailed movement, something that sets Alpina apart from their competitors in this price range. Where other brands in this price range will make do with a basic undecorated ETA calibre, Alpina does one better by featuring a finely finished Selitta movement with their unique asymmetrical rotor. Just try and find an automatic Swiss watch for under 1500$ from a major brand with this level of finishing on the movement.
The dials are the highlight of the Startimer, as they should be on a pilot’s watch. Legibility at a glance is key to this type of design, and the Startimer is great in this regard. The dials are matte black with crisply printed white numerals, with applied (yes, applied, not printed) luminescent markers. The hands are pointed sword style in bright white with large luminescent centres. A red counterweight in the shape of the Alpina triangle on the sweep seconds hand adds a touch of colour to the otherwise clean and simple dial. On the basic automatic you’ll find a date window at 3 o’clock. Nothing flashy or fancy here, just an easy-to-read and slick looking dial.
Two options are available for straps – a leather item with a deployant buckle, or a stainless-steel link bracelet with hidden clasp. It’s rare to see this sort of design with a metal bracelet, so it is nice to see that Alpina is offering the bracelet as an option for those who prefer it. My favourite is the leather strap, however, which is a classic pilot-style in thick hide with a reversed buckle. It’s a strap that will last a long while and looks great with this design.
The Startimer is a fantastic collection of watches, offering really exceptional quality and distinct style for very reasonable money. The automatics are under 1500$, while the chronograph is just under 3000$ - these are a lot of watch for the money, and are well worth the price of admission. Each piece in the collection is limited to 8888 pieces, produced in partnership with Privatair in Switzerland. Alpina is doing a great job of improving their line while reducing their prices, with the Startimer collection leading the charge. If you have any questions about Alpina or wish to place an order, please call us at 514 845 8878 or visit our contact page.