Alpina has a long tradition of pilot’s watches, and supplied some continental air forces with timepieces in the first half of the 20th century. The Startimer Pilot Collection, launched in 2011, has become the brand’s best seller. In 2017 the new Startimer Pilot Automatic is a classic pilot’s watch, with an automatic movement, with a retail price of under €900.
There are several positive features about this watch, apart from the attractive price. The first thing is the dial, which is given extra interest and three-dimensionality by the applied numerals in metal matching the case. Most pilot’s watches have painted numerals, but this piece has the SuperLuminova on top of a small block of metal.
Sports watch performance
Then there is the water resistance. 10 bar, 100 metres, is enough to ensure that the watch will survive being accidentally dropped into the water or used for surface swimming. It makes it an all-round sports watch. It achieves this water resistance by means of a screw-down crown. The watch is supplied with a leather strap with a suede-type surface, and it is specially treated to provide a smooth feel.
Large but slim
As is traditional for pilot’s watches, this is a large timepiece at 44 mm diameter, but it’s slim at 10.7 mm. Thin enough to slip under a shirt sleeve. One of the problems with pilot’s watches is how to make a timepiece with its own character notwithstanding the simplicity that is typical of the genre. Alpina have achieved diversity through the combination of Arabic numerals and rectangular hour markers at 4 positions, and distinctively-shaped hands, with the seconds hand incorporating a triangular red counterweight. It creates a visual reference to the red triangle at 12 o’clock. The case and caseback are in stainless steel, the watchglass is in sapphire crystal.
Automatic movement, not in-house
Alpina has the capacity to make its own movements, but for this piece the brand uses a movement supplied by Sellita. I think that this will hallmark the brand’s future direction: mechanical watches at low prices, with third-party movements. The movement provides the date, and the large case size enables the date window to be well inside the hour markers. Alpina call the movement the AL-525: the Sellita SW200 runs at 4 Hertz, 28,800 vibrations per hour, provides 38 hours power reserve, and has the stop-seconds and quick date-setting functions.
The watch is available in four versions, grey dial and titanium-colour case, grey dial and steel case, blue-grey dial, white dial with rose-gold-colour case, white dial and natural steel case. Here are the four new Startimer Automatic pieces:
Startimer Pilot Automatic AL-525G4TS6
Titanium-colored stainless steel case, matt dark grey dial
Startimer Pilot Automatic AL-525NN4S6
Stainless steel case, matt dark blue dial, dark grey leather strap
Startimer Pilot Automatic AL-525S4S6
Stainless steel case, matt white dial, dark grey leather strap
Startimer Pilot Automatic AL-525S4S4
Rose gold-plated stainless steel case, applied rose-gold-colour numerals, matt white dial, brown leather strap
Price and availability
The watches cost €895 inclusive of tax, and they can be purchased direct from Alpina on their website.