It has often been said (by yours truly, and others), that Frederique Constant offers affordable, well-built Swiss watches. Those tend to the more conservative, or dressy style; if you are in want of something sportier, then you need to look to stablemate Alpina. They just recently released two new watches in their Alpiner 4 collection, and both are sharp.
The first one is the Alpiner 4 Automatic (of note, the 4 refers to four essential features: anti-magnetic, anti-shock, water resistant, and stainless steel). As you might imagine, this is a “simple” automatic watch, a clean three-hander with date and a sunray dial set into a 44mm case. When you look at it, it has a solid look to it, albeit not one so overbuilt that you’d feel out of place wearing it to the office or with a suit. No, the Alpiner 4 Automatic is what I’ll call the “gentleman’s” sport watch. The handset looks to be reasonably sized, and stands out in contrast against the darker dials.
On the lighter, silver dial, they did opt for darker-filled indices. Surprisingly, though, the handset does not take that same tactic, so I’m a little concerned about readability. Past that, though, the Alpiner 4 Automatic looks like it’s built to take on most anything. It’s got shock and magnetism resistance built in (generally a good thing for mechanical movements), as well as 100m WR, all keeping that AL-525 caliber safe during it’s wearing time (or not, as it has a 38-hour power reserve as well).
If you like the road the Alpiner 4 Automatic is taking, but find yourself jetting across timezones, then you may want to consider the Alpiner 4 Business Timer instead. The Business Timer (for when you’re getting down to the business of business) features the same case and resistances that the Automatic offers. Via it’s movement, it brings a GMT complication into the mix, and the bi-directional bezel is swapped from a 60-minute (on the automatic) to this 360-degree one (useful as a compass). Perhaps not quite as useful (in daily wear) as another 24-hour scale, but it still has utility.
Speaking of 24-hour scales, the Alpiner Business Timer does bring some Pepsi to the party, albeit not in the spot you’d expect it (i.e., not on the external bezel). Instead, it shows up around the dial, for the inner GMT indication. This follows the same sort of day/night indication that most two-tone bezels would bring, but with a twist. Rather than a hard demarcation for 12-hour splits, this instead is indicating the normal business hours (well, more like bankers hours, as it’s 9-5) in red, white bands on either side of the work day (to encompass the hours that most work) and then blue to indicate non-work hours. Perhaps this is a good watch for those workaholics who could use a reminder of when they should go home?
- Brand & Model: Alpina Alpiner 4 Automatic & Business Timer
- Price: $1,395 (Automatic), $1,995 (GMT)
- Who we think it might be for: You’re looking for an affordable Swiss watch, yet want something a bit sportier
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Probably, but I’d be torn as to which model
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Test out that galvanic blue dial on the GMT, and take a look at darkening the hands on the silver-dialed Automatic
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: Dial designs aside, I really like the shape and compact feel of those 44mm cases
- 44mm stainless steel case
- Sapphire crystal
- Bi-directional bezel (60 minute on the automatic; compass on the GMT)
- 100m WR
- Anti-magnetic (ISO764)
- Sunray dial
- Movement: AL-525 (Automatic), AL-550 (GMT)