Alpina Extreme Sailing Automatic ¶
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Alpina has been on a roll lately, after introducing several cool new models (including the Startimer and Extreme Sailing, and the upcoming Heritage Pilot) that have really put the spotlight back onto the brand. The new theme seems to be better design, better quality, and lowered retail prices overall. The new Extreme Sailing Automatic in particular offers exceptional value; it’s a clean, functional and good-looking watch that appears far more expensive than it is.
The Sailing was introduced in Basel last year to minimal fanfare. The new Startimer was released alongside it, and that model got most of the media attention. Alpina placed emphasis on the Sailing Regatta model, with a countdown timer, providing little information on the basic automatic version of the same watch. So when we received the Sailing Automatic in store, we were pleasantly surprised by how exceptional it was - particularly for a Swiss watch retailing for a bit over 1000$.
The Sailing features a 44mm stainless steel case that has squared-off proportions and short strap lugs. It’s water-resistant to 300 metres, so it is a useable dive watch that won’t be bothered by a trip to the pool. The design is simple but very nicely done – while measuring a pretty substantial 44mm, it wears really comfortably owing to the short strap lugs and square shape. It’s a big watch that can be worn by anyone; it will fit any wrist size with ease. The case is well finished, with some angular detailing on the sides and a nice mix of polished and brushed portions.
The rotating bezel has a sapphire insert, a nod to the IWC Aquatimer and a welcome addition to any dive watch. The traditional metal insert used by most companies is simple but prone to scratching and fading. Ceramic inserts are becoming popular but are expensive to produce and replace. The compromise is the sapphire insert, which has the marking printed on the backside of a slice of sapphire crystal. It makes for a very scratch-resistant insert, and gives the watch a really appealing look. The challenge of any designer producing a dive watch is to make a distinctive model that does not end up looking like the prototypical Rolex Submariner (or Omega Seamaster) which is what 90% of dive watches seem to look like at the end of the day. I think Alpina nailed it with the Sailing.
The caseback has an exhibition window to show off the movement, a Selitta calibre automatic modified and decorated by Alpina. It’s a damn nice looking movement in this price range – check out the perlage, blued screws, and Geneva striping. Most movements in this range would be undecorated with plain matte finish parts, so hats off to Alpina for giving us a little bit extra under the hood without charging a premium.
The dial and hands are very well done, simple with subtle detailing. The dial is a matte black finish with applied hour markers, though at first glance they might appear printed. It gives the face a little extra depth without going overboard or making it too cluttered. The hands are wide luminescent batons that are easy to spot at a glance, a must on a functional watch such as this. The date is displayed at 3 o’clock in traditional fashion – better than the old Extreme Diver, which had a cutaway window that showed 7 days at once, and only put numbers on the odd dates, which looked cool but made it hard to read the date quickly.
The strap is a soft silicon rubber item that is extremely comfortable. While soft, we have had good experience with Alpina rubber straps – typically they are rugged while remaining very supple. Two optional metal bracelets are available – a link item with hidden clasp, and a shark-mesh diving bracelet.
All Sailing models are limited editions, just like the Startimer. Each version is limited to 8888 pieces and comes in a presentation case with a scale model catamaran.
The Alpina Extreme Sailing is a winner in my books. It’s well made, looks great, wears well, and it is very reasonably priced considering how nice the finishing is. It’s hard to find an automatic Swiss dive watch in this price range that is even comparable; I can think of a few, but none are as nice as the Sailing. It’s a shame that Alpina didn’t do more to promote this model, as I feel it is a highlight of their 2011-2012 lineup – so I’ll do my bit to shill for them and say it here: the Sailing Auto is a no-brainer, a fantastic watch that is really well priced and looks amazing. For more info on Alpina or anything else we have in store, call us at 514 845 8878 or visit our contact page.