When it comes to assessing a watch’s versatility, it’s not just about its capabilities, but also about how it’s perceived. Do you find yourself worrying if your sports watch matches your suit, or are you concerned about what others might think? Either way, the Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic California Dial is not for the faint of heart. Embracing the extreme can be a surefire way to raise eyebrows among watch traditionalists, but taking the risk can yield an exhilarating and fresh twist on vintage concepts.
Alpina describes the case of the Alpiner Extreme as “imposing,” and that description couldn’t be more apt. It’s a modern evolution of the cushion case concept, pumped full of character with sharp bevels and deeply gouged brushing that gives it an industrial edge. The presence of three tiers, courtesy of the wings, mid-case, and the steel bezel, creates an illusion of depth, but in reality, the case is only 11.5mm thick. Surprisingly, the entire watch is more wearable than it might initially appear, thanks to its 41mm diameter and 49.5mm lug-to-lug length introduced last year. Complemented by a textured rubber strap that seamlessly integrates with the design, the Alpiner Extreme Automatic California Dial boasts a visually wild appearance while maintaining a physically tame profile. Should you desire some experimentation, it’s worth noting that swapping out the rubber strap might look a bit unconventional due to the 18mm lug width.
The California dial has its roots dating back to the 1930s, in a collaborative effort by Panerai and Rolex to supply waterproof watches for the Italian navy. The idea of combining Arabic and Roman numerals was born out of the need for enhanced legibility from any angle, further aided by luminous markers designed to be visible even in murky waters. Alpina has painstakingly recreated this effect, dividing the numerals into top and bottom halves with dashes at the quarters and an inverted triangle at 12 o’clock. The lume and printing sport an off-white hue, evoking a sense of age. The dial itself features a coarsely grained texture, and a black date wheel seamlessly complements the design. Hints of red can be found in the Alpina logo, the “automatic” text, and on the counterbalance of the seconds hand.
Visible through the display caseback is the AL-525 caliber, better known as the Sellita SW200-1. Aside from Alpina’s custom rotor, the SW200-1 is widely praised for its reliability and affordability. With a 38-hour power reserve, it’s well-suited for daily wear, and its 4Hz beat rate ensures precision. It’s no wonder that the Sellita movement has quickly become one of the most common calibers found in entry-level Swiss watches.
The Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic California Dial is currently available for pre-order, with deliveries expected to commence in December 2023. The price for this remarkable timepiece is set at A$2,825 or US$1,795.