Pilot’s watches traditionally had solid steel casebacks for optimum robustness. Today people like to be able to see the movement of a mechanical watch. How do you combine these two apparently irreconcilable features?
Alpina provides a neat solution with the limited-edition Startimer Pilot Heritage Automatic. Pressing a button at 4 o’clock opens the hinged caseback and reveals a second caseback with a transparent window through which you can see the movement. The best of both worlds.
Heritage pilot’s watch
Alpina have used the word “Heritage” in the name of this watch, for good reasons. It has a lot of the characteristics of historic pilot’s watches, such as the generous case diameter at 44 mm, the large fluted crown, the reference triangle at 12 o’clock, vintage-colour beige luminescent paint on hands and numerals, and a vintage-looking Alpina logo. The caseback has a lovely engraved abstract pattern, and the strap is in thick calf-leather with off-white stitching.
In addition to all those history-flavoured features, the watch has some interesting modern features. The automatic movement makes it practical for everyday use. At 11.55 mm thickness it is very wearable. The smooth, rounded bezel and caseback give the watch a lovely pebble-like look. The indices are not simply painted onto the dial, but are in silver, applied and lume-coated. There is a date window in a position determined by the standard movement used to power the watch. The date has the same black background as the dial, so it is camouflaged to a degree. Water resistance is the standard 3 atm, 30 metres, rain and splash-resistant only.
Swiss-made automatic calibre
The movement is the AL-525 calibre. With 26 jewels and 38 hours power reserve, it is basically the Sellita SW200-1, personalized with an Alpina-branded rotor.
The Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage Automatic is reference AL-525BBG4SH6, and it costs €1,195, a very attractive price for a Swiss-made watch with a lot of engineering details. It has a two-year guarantee. The edition is limited to 1,883 pieces. See the Alpina website for further information.
My perfect watch
This is on the way to approaching my idea of pilot’s watch perfection, something that I sell my car for. It would just need:
- no date window
- a manual-wind movement
- a movement large enough to fit the case (or vice versa).
Something like this vintage Laco, with the addition of a hinged caseback:
Of course I realize that I am asking for something next to impossible…