Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph

Alpina, the Genevan watchmaker, recently launched its Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph at Baselworld 2014. The sports watch is anti-magnetic, anti-shock, water resistant and delivered in a highly practical stainless steel case. Angus Davies provides an in-depth review of this handsome new timepiece.

This detailed review of the Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph includes live images and specification details.

Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph - an in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

As a child, I remember the words, “It’s good for you” always being the prelude to something rather horrible.

A spoon laden with foul tasting medicine would always engender a little trepidation as it headed towards my opened mouth. It would fluoresce with nastiness and when my mother uttered that immortal line, “It’s good for you”, I knew my fears would be justified.

Games lessons at school were another case in point. Hearing my PE teacher utter the aforementioned phrase and another idiom, “no pain, no gain”, I knew weary legs would soon be on the agenda. These weekly experiences still reverberate in my nocturnal thoughts to this day. Indeed, running cross-country attired in mere vest and shorts, despite it being January, now seems cruel to this middle-aged portly soul. I still shudder at the thought of trying in vain not to slip on the icy, frozen ground of the wintry Pennine hills.

I must admit, “It’s good for you” seems, paradoxically, to be a warning that something awful is about to be served cold. However, despite my unbridled fear about the said phrase, it was, in truth, accompanied with some virtuous benefits. The medicine would inevitably make me feel better and the exercise did mitigate the onset of adolescent obesity.

Alpina has created a timepiece that is ideally suited to the healthy, active individual, especially those who wish to pursue Alpine Sports. However, thankfully, if like me you avoid vigorous exercise and adventurous pursuits, ownership does not require any pre-requisite exertion. Indeed, you can enjoy this watch, safe in the knowledge that it delivers much benefit without any requirement to suffer pain or discomfort.

This Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph, recently launched at Baselworld 2014, confers a wholesome mien. It’s handsome, simple to read and yet, on the face of it, does not come with any nasty surprises.

The Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph is aptly named because it exhibits four traits which make it an ideal sports watch. It is anti-magnetic, anti-shock, water resistant and constructed of stainless steel. Despite its sporty characteristics, I am surprisingly drawn to this watch and recently had the opportunity to place the timepiece upon my arm and make an appraisal.

The dial

The Alpiner 4 Chronograph is available with a choice of black or silver sunray dials. I vacillate between the two options as to which is my preferred variant. To be honest, I like them both but, for ease of explanation, this review focusses upon the black dial model.

Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph - an in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph - an in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The hour and minutes are communicated using nickel plated, lancine-shaped hands, lined with white luminous centres. They have a mirror-like finish and are simple in form, but converse succinctly with the wearer.

Applied hour markers have luminous centres and are uniform in length, except where the location of the subdials necessitates truncation.

The bicompax layout of the dial delivers a comely equilibrium and symmetry. Each subdial features a snailed centre, employing simple white strokes and Arabic numerals to impart information.

Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph - an in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

A 30-minute chronograph counter resides at 3 o’clock and a small seconds display is positioned opposite, at 9 o’clock.

The central chronograph seconds hand is restrained in comparison to many competing watches equipped with the same stopwatch function. The hand is nickel plated and the only obvious indication of its purpose is an open-worked red triangular counterbalance adorning its slender form.

The inner flange is marked with a 24 hour scale.

A key attribute of the Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph is that it is incredibly legible. The composition of the dial is harmonious and nothing detracts from the purpose of imparting time with notable brevity and clarity.

The case

The case diameter is 44 mm and I found it incredibly comfortable to wear.

The bracelet gracing the black dial version I wore was well executed with a positive and secure clasp. Indeed, there is a ubiquitous sense of quality with every element of the case and bracelet construction. Historically, Alpina is known for delivering accessibly priced products so, assuming the Alpiner 4 Chronograph is similarly positioned, it should represent great value for money.

Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph - an in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

A 360° turning compass bezel should appeal to intrepid explorer types. However, my interest is more in the aesthetics than any mountainous wanderlust and, in this regard, the bezel is very attractive. Moreover, it turns with a positive action and is absent of any unseemly wobble.

Whilst I personally prefer exhibition case backs, the solid case back fitted to the Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph is understandable based on its intended use as a tough sports watch. Indeed, robustness is an intrinsic quality that this watch has in abundance.

Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph - an in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The movement is housed within a soft-iron core protecting the micro-mechanics of the AL-860 automatic chronograph movement from the adverse effects of magnetism. The watch is certified to ISO 764 and is able to withstand 4800 A/m.

The hardy nature of the watch extends to shock resistance and in this regard the watch meets the ISO 1413 standard.

Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph - an in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Water resistance of 100 metres is good, but should the wearer wish to scuba dive, then an Alpina diver’s watch might be a better option.

The movement

The Alpina AL-860 automatic movement is made in-house, which is impressive given its price positioning.

The self-winding calibre has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz), contains 26 jewels and has a power reserve of 38 hours.

Having not seen the movement, I feel unable to comment on its finishing. However, I do hope to visit the Manufacture in due course and see the calibre construction at close quarters. With this in mind, I hope to provide more insight on Alpina movements in the future.

Closing remarks

I like the Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph. It is honest with a palpable quality to the dial, case and bracelet construction.

Ordinarily, I favour straps in preference to bracelets and admit I did like the silver dial version of the Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph with black alligator leather strap. However, the black dial model on the bracelet is probably the best option for those seeking an active lifestyle.

Alpina has delivered a watch that is ideal for those of sporty persuasion. The Alpiner 4 Chronograph has a wholesomeness without any adverse taste or painful consequences. Indeed, perhaps it rewrites my notion that all things that are good for us generally come with some undesirable characteristics. If you want to be sporty this watch will fit the bill. However, if you merely want a simple to read, comfortable watch and choose to live a more sedentary lifestyle, then there is no need to worry about sprained muscles or aching limbs.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph
  • Ref: AL-860B5AQ6B (black dial, steel bracelet); AL-860S5AQ6 (silver dial, black alligator strap)
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 44 mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph; 360° turning compass bezel
  • Movement: AL-860, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz), 26 jewels; power reserve of 38 hours.
  • Bracelet / Strap: Stainless steel bracelet or black alligator leather strap

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