Not many would associate a brand renowned for its rugged sports watches with regulator-style dials. Regulator dials, separating the display of hours, minutes and seconds for precision readings, are pretty rare and more associated with brands like Chronoswiss and Louis Erard. Following the brand’s rescue by Frederique Constant in 2002, Alpina produced an unusually burly but very well-received regulator known as the Avalanche Regulator. Today, the Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic stages its comeback during Geneva Watch Days in a compact, robust 41mm case with a two-tone grey and blue sculpted dial and the brand’s in-house automatic.
Initially developed in the mid-18th century, regulator clocks were the accurate form of pendulum clocks devised to offer the most precise time readings. The distinctive feature of regulators was, and is, the separation of minutes, hours and seconds. The minutes are the true protagonists of the dial read with a large sweep hand, while the hours and seconds are usually relegated to smaller sub-dials. In 2005, Alpina introduced the Avalanche Regulator, a huge 48mm cushion-shaped watch with screws on the bezel, a regulator dial and an in-house movement (calibre AL-650). Fifteen years later, in 2020, the case was redesigned in a more conventional yet still large 45mm circular shape with much of the beefiness taken out of the composition to produce a more stylish watch.
The New Regulator
As a member of the Alpiner family, renowned for its sporty outdoor watches geared for all-terrain adventures, the Alpiner Extreme Regulator comes in a heavy-duty stainless steel case. The architecture of the case is closer to the original 2005 model but smaller in size, with a 41mm diameter and a height of 12mm. The bold three-part cushion-shaped case features a raised, round bezel with six exposed screws with the Alpina triangle in its centre. The large crown has a blue rubber grip and is flanked by crown protectors to ensure the 200m water-resistance. To balance the composition, the left side of the case has an elongated reinforcement to match the crown guards. All the surfaces of the case, bezel and lugs display a sporty brushed finishing while the bevels, the screws, crown guards and crown are polished.
The granite grey dial of the watch is engraved with a series of triangles described as Alpine peaks that are the brand’s logo. Forming an interesting crosshatch design, the triangle decoration is a nod, according to the brand, to the refined engine turning (guilloché) found on more traditional watches.
In keeping with a classic regulator layout, the minutes occupy the traditional position of the hours and are indicated in white on a blue sloping metallic flange and reinforced with large luminous indices applied to the dial at 5-minute intervals and read by a central lumed hand. The hours are displayed on a round blue snailed sub-dial tucked in between 9 and 11 o’clock with a snailed background and large Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock; the small seconds are also featured in a smaller blue sub-dial at 6 o’clock. The Alpiner Extreme Regulator comes with a navy blue textured rubber strap to match the grip on the crown, the flange and the two sub-dials.
The see-through caseback reveals the AL-650 automatic calibre. Although the press release states that it is the same calibre used inside the 2005 Avalanche Regulators, it is not. The original 2005 AL-650 regulator calibre was a repurposed manual-winding pocket watch calibre based on a Unitas 6498 ebauche; the AL-650 calibre used in this model, and models from 2020 on, is automatic Sellita and beats at a higher frequency of 28,800vph and has a lower power reserve of 38h (compared to the 53 hours of the manual movement).
Availability & Price
The Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic is limited to 888 pieces and retails for CHF 2,150. For more information, please visit Alpinawatches.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.