Alpina has updated a bygone mechanical caliber design to launch its Startimer Pilot Heritage Manufacture with a ‘bumper’ rotor that pings back and forth, rotating 330 degrees instead of the 360-degree modern standard for automatic movements.
A version of this type of to-and-fro oscillating ‘bumper’ weight was used in many early automatic Swiss watches starting from the late 1920s into the 1960s and could be found installed into watches from Omega, Universal Genève, Jaeger-LeCoultre–and Alpina.
The new Caliber AL-709 on this new Alpina watch, which is visible through the clear sapphire caseback, mimics the watchmaker’s own vintage ‘bumper’ movement from the 1950s.
According to Alpina, the two calibers share “the same geometry and the same inspiration.” However, while the vintage version rotates 120°, the new one rotates 330°. In addition, Alpina has replaced the springs used in the vintage designs with more efficient blades.
Alpina has placed its retro-bumper caliber into an existing 42mm steel cushion-shaped case from its Startimer Pilot Heritage collection.
The case nicely combines a circle in a square with rounded edges. A smartly satin-brushed and polished case middle further emphasizes the case’s dual geometry, which to my eye feels more inspired by watches from the 1970s than from those made in the 1950s.
Alpina has built its AL-709 caliber with an extended diameter that reaches to the edge of the round inner caseback, in part to underscore the watch’s Heritage message.
The dial also adds to the vintage look with its 1950s style cues, notably the three matching hands. Alpina also wisely places the watch’s crown at 4 o’clock, which enhances the case’s cushion profile. The 42mm case size and the sporty red accents add a contemporary edge.
Alpina is limiting the new Startimer Pilot Heritage Manufacture to 188 pieces, each with a brown calfskin strap with off-white topstitching. Price: $2,850.
Specifications: Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage Manufacture
(Ref. AL-709SR4SH6, Limited edition of 188)
Movement: Automatic AL-709 Manufacture caliber, 38-hour power reserve, 28,800 alt/h.
Case: 42mm by 13.25mm brushed and polished stainless steel, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, see-through case back, water-resistant to 100 meters.
Dial: Silver color with vertical brushed finishing, black minutes and seconds graduation, silver color indexes and hands with red luminous treatment.
Bracelet: Brown calf leather strap with off-white stitching.