As most anyone reading this article is aware, the micro brand Kickstarter phenomenon has hit stratospheric levels in the last few years. As a watch blogger, I can tell you firsthand that it can be quite difficult to sift through the endless emails and press releases related to Kickstarter watches. It seems that several new brands are popping up on an almost daily basis on the popular crowd funding site. A small handful of these new brands are actually designing and selling some very nice pieces, but the vast majority are, to put it mildly, junk.
With that being said, when we receive a press release from a big Swiss watch brand like Alpina informing us that they’re launching a new watch on the platform, we most definitely sit up and take notice. Why would a major brand use Kickstarter to launch a new watch? Great question, and as it turns out the answer is pretty simple. Given the history of the brand and the fact that they’re owned by the massive Citizen Group, raising capital is certainly not their primary goal. First and foremost they’re using the Kickstarter platform as a method for crowd design. It makes good sense when you think about it. What better way to get realtime feedback from interested consumers? Let them have input into the design, and now they’ve got a vested interest in the product and are likely more apt to purchase.
The watch in question is the Alpina AlpinerX Horological Smartwatch Professional. For those of you familiar with my review of the William L. 1985 Smartwatch, you’ll know that I’m not big on the whole wrist computer thing. However, as more brands like William L., Tissot, Frederique Constant, Alpina and others start coming out with attractive analog dial devices, I’m slowly warming to them. This is definitely the case with the Alpiner X, which will be customizable via a special portal. A buyer’s watch will not be assembled until they’ve specified what color combinations they prefer, and with 3200 total available combinations buyers will not be wanting for choice.
Along with the now industry standard features such as activity tracking, sleep monitoring, health coaching, call and message notifications, etc., the AlpinerX includes some unique features as a result of several built-in sensors. The watch can display temperature, barometric pressure, altitude, compass heading, and a world’s first, a UV Index monitor. These values can either be displayed on the face itself through the digital screen at 6 o’clock, or via the companion app for IOS and Android devices.
Case and Dial
At 45mm the AlpinerX isn’t a small watch but given its intended use I think it’s appropriately sized, especially considering the amount of technology packed inside. The black dial has applied Arabic indices at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, with the remaining indices being arrow-shaped. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a sector dial, but it does have a partial crosshair behind the orange (or blue if the buyer desires) skelontonized and lumed hour and minute hands. There is no seconds hand. The rehaut comes in either a dial-matching black, or a hands-matching orange.
Filling in the majority of the bottom half of the dial is the digital information screen. This is a basic one-color screen reminiscent of digital watches from days gone by, drawing very little power from the claimed 2-year battery life of the watch. The screen integrates nicely with the overall rugged look of the piece, and gives the added benefit of more complete information when it comes to notifications, including being able to know instantly who’s calling or texting. It reminds me very much of the Breitling Professional line.
The bezel (again color dependent on the buyer) is bi-directional and includes compass markings, which in this case are actually quite useful given that the AlpinerX also has a built-in magnetic compass, along with GPS. A rubber strap in the buyer’s choice of color rounds out the package.
This is the first smartwatch that has successfully impressed me. The aesthetics seem to find a happy medium between modern and classic, and the included technologies all seem useful and well thought out. The fact that the watch can be highly customized by the individual buyer just adds to the allure. Brace yourselves, but this may be the very first smartwatch that this holdout drops his hard earned dollars on. Watch this space to find out.
The AlpinerX Kickstarter campaign has already blown its original $53,000 USD funding goal out of the water and is currently sitting at just over $210,000, not that it really matters since the watch would’ve happened anyway. Super Early Bird pledge opportunities at 50% off MSRP are long gone, but you can still pick up an Early Bird at $559. Regular MSRP pricing after the campaign will be $900 $995.
- Brand & Model: Alpina AlpinerX
- Price: $900$995 MSRP, $559 Early Bird Kickstarter Pricing
- Who we think it might be for: Any of you outdoor types will love this one, irrespective of the smartwatch functionality. As a smartwatch holdout, I’m seriously digging it as well.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen? Yes. In fact, I may pledge before this review hits the website!
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Nothing. This one’s got “The Look”.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: Awesome tech packed into a great looking analog/digital combination dial.
Technical Specifications from Alpine
- Material: Black Glass-Fiber and Stainless Steel
- Size: 45mm
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Case Back: Solid, Engraved
- Water Resistance: 10 atm/100m/330ft
- MOVEMENT: MMT-283-1
- Functions: Hours, Minutes, Seconds (on digital display only), Date, Activity Tracking, Sleep Monitoring, Dynamic Health Coaching, Second Timezone, Smart Alarms, Call and Message Notifications, UV Indicator, Altitude, Compass, Temperature, Stopwatch/Timer, Barometer
- Material: Rubber