BASELWORLD wasn’t built in a day [Video]

June 2013

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 Features without frills

Frederique Constant was founded in 1988 by the amiable husband and wife team of Peter and Aletta Stas. They created from zero an innovative, dynamic company that has evolved into a true manufacturer of reasonably priced timepieces. Then just a few years ago, 2002 to be precise, they acquired Alpina, a company founded in 1883 but one suffering from the ramifications of the inexpensive quartz watch revolution.

Quickly rejuvenated and cleverly marketed, the Alpina brand has enjoyed a solid growth since then and introduced some eye-catching models which include a Regulator, a Tourbillon, a GMT and various chronographs all of which are produced in the Alpina workshops.

This year, to mark Alpina’s 130th anniversary, Aletta Stas showed me four outstanding sports models they have developed to meet the demands of pilots, divers and sailing enthusuiasts: the Alpina 130 Heritage Pilot Chronograph, the StarTimer Pilot Chrono Big Date, the Extreme Diver 300 Chronograph and the Sailing Yachttimer.

Aletta Stas, Alpina's Co-founder with the latest Alpina Collection.
Aletta Stas, Alpina’s Co-founder with the latest Alpina Collection.
Alpina StarTimer Pilot Chrono Big Date by Alpina
Alpina StarTimer Pilot Chrono Big Date by Alpina

The Alpina 130 Heritage Pilot Chronograph, inspired by an earlier model from the turn of the 20th century, now houses an automatic calibre AL-860 movement with fish scale decoration, indicating hours, minutes, seconds using a bi-compax chronograph with telemeter and tachymeter scales on the dial. The 41.5 mm stainless steel or gold-plated case, water-resistant to 50 metres, has an anti-reflective sapphire crystal coating, a transparent caseback and comes with a dark brown leather strap.

The StarTimer Pilot Chrono Big Date collection comes, as Alpina state, ‘with plenty of features, but no frills.’ It is designed to meet the essential needs of pilots: readability and the provision of essential information the moment it is required. This new range utilises an AL-372 quartz chronograph movement set into an extra-wide 44 mm-diameter, two-part stainless-steel case or one in black-coated PVD. There is a scratchproof sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, a big date and small second displays at 6 o’clock. Water resistant to 100 metres, the models come with a fabric ‘Cordura’ strap matching the dial and case or a stainless steel bracelet. The first three watches in this new collection feature a black dial with extra-large contrasting white numerals and Superluminova indices or a military green dial with contrasting beige-coloured, luminous minute hands and indices plus a choice of a grey, black or sand-coloured fabric strap.

The Extreme Diver 300 Chronograph is designed for the professional diver with a water-resistance to 300 metres. It is in stainless steel (44 mm) with a unidirectional black PVD bezel with luminous engraving. It is equipped with an automatic chronograph movement with a 46-hour power reserve and features hours, minutes, 30-minute and 12-hour counters, a central chronograph seconds hand and a date aperture at 3 o’clock. It comes with a rubber strap with a security folding clasp and is also available with a linked or mesh stainless steel bracelet.

Last but far from least, there is the Sailing Yachttimer, a 44 mm stainless-steel cased watch water-resistant to 300 metres with a black dial and sapphire crystal and see-through caseback. It has a unidirectional sapphire compass bezel and is equipped with an automatic calibre AL-680 movement with a yacht timer function and a PVD black rotor. The functions are hours, minutes, seconds with luminous minute countdown indication: windows from 0’ to 4’ with fluorescent ‘Start’ indication, white luminous hands with a fluorescent orange triangle seconds hand. The watch comes with a black rubber strap with metal linked or mesh bracelet as options. Competitively priced from 990 to 2,950 Swiss francs the models will win many friends in the air, at sea and, inevitably, on land.

 Made in America

Having designed the exclusive Devon GTX supercar, three years ago Devon Works decided to move further afield and with no tradition in watchmaking the California-based company attended BaselWorld for the first time with its unconventional Tread 1 Steampunk timepiece.

The early success came as a surprise to the company founder and Creative Director, Scott Devon, who explained that his original concept was inspired by biology, comparing its creation to the manner in which anthropods shed their outer shells.

This year, maintaining its penchant for bold, innovative timepieces, Devon launched the Tread 1 Exoskeleton, an eye-catching machine-like timepiece that boasts a transparent case to reveal the intricate workings of the watch and, surprisingly, creates the impression that the battery-operated movement appears to be on the outside of the case.

Exoskeleton by Devon
Exoskeleton by Devon

Translucent polycarbonate is substituted for metal thus creating the panoramic window into the inner workings of the movement that includes a medically-inspired cage of armour plating. The specially designed metal link bracelet adds to the timepiece’s futuristic appearance.
Measuring 56mm x 50mm x 18.5mm, the Exoskeleton has translucent .002” thick fibreglass-reinforced nylon Time Belts© and a lithium polymer rechargeable battery. Quantities of the watch will not be limited, however the brand intends to maintain a controlled production to ensure a measure of exclusivity.

In addition to the Exoskeleton, the Tread 2 was presented, a timepiece that leans more towards a traditional casing in stainless steel but maintains an unorthodox presentation of the time. The movement also incorporates a chronograph function that is activated from the crown with the seconds reading on the minute belt and the minutes on the hour belt and is then reset by a pushbutton situated in the centre of the crown. Measuring 44.2mm x 41.7mm x 14.5mm with finishes in black, white and red and accompanied by intimidating model names such as Ghost, Murder, Nightmare and Shining.

Innovative, atypical ‘Made in the U.S.A’ watches that already enjoy a cult following after just three short years. Next Next