If you’ve got a history of tool watches, flaunt them. This certainly seems to be the mandate in the watchmaking arena for the past decade or so, and brands with legitimate tool watches from the past have found an avid crowd of watch buyers who want the appealing look of a vintage watch with contemporary mechanics. Although Alpina has been providing rugged tool watches for almost 140 years now, it was a late-1960s dive watch that was chosen as a candidate for a remake in 2016. The latest edition of the Seastrong Diver 300 Heritage is a historically faithful re-edition of the 1960s diver with its super compressor-style case and double crowns. Although the watch shares the same specs as the 2016 edition, and there has already been a Seastrong Heritage Diver with a black dial, the latest model livens things up with golden elements that underscore the vintage vibe even further. Another novelty that will make many of our readers happy is that the date window has been eliminated.
Alpina 10 Seastrong
Founded in 1883, watchmaker Gottlieb Hauser decided to pool together resources and created a union of fellow watchmakers known as Alpinists. Alpina was the name chosen by the union members to denote the highest quality calibres in their production. In 1938, Alpina introduced the legendary Alpina 4. The number 4 alluded to the four essential qualities of a sports watch: anti-magnetic, water-resistant, anti-shock and stainless steel (case). The watch was equipped with the hand-wound Alpina 592 calibre. Seven years later, the company manufactured its first automatic. This brings us up to 1967 when it introduced its landmark diver watch, the Alpina 10 (also referred to as the Alpina 10 Seastrong in 1969), a professional diving watch with 200m water-resistance and an automatic calibre.
Like many dive watches of the period, the Seastrong had a super compressor case with two crowns – one to adjust the internal bezel to determine decompression times via the 1-60 minutes on the rotating bezel, and the second crown to set and wind the movement. To make sure that divers could consult the time easily, the watch’s designers used luminous material on the dial and hands. The case, constructed by Ervin Piquerez SA (EPSA), was water-resistant to 200 metres thanks to its patented spring mechanism built into the screw-down caseback that made the watch more watertight the deeper it went. Increasing diving depth and the increasing water pressure exerted on the case pressed the two parts of the case and the O-ring gasket more firmly, ensuring ever-higher levels of resistance.
The Revival, the new Seastrong Diver 300 Heritage
Launched in 2016 at Baselworld, the first Seastrong Heritage Diver picked up on the design cues of the original with double crowns and the characteristic grid pattern embossing the crown associated with super compressor cases made by Ervin Piquerez (Ps. The case of this modern watch looks like a super compressor but isn’t a proper super compressor in terms of architecture and construction)
Starting with the external aspects of the watch, the case of the Seastrong Diver 300 Heritage measures 42mm with a thickness of 12.30mm; by no means a massive case size for today’s standards, but certainly larger than the original. The bezel and top part of the lugs are polished while the case bands are brushed. The crown at 4 o’clock to set the time and wind the movement is engraved with the Alpina triangle, while the crown at 2 o’clock to adjust the rotating bezel reveals the grid pattern of early EPSA super compressor cases.
The caseback is sealed, and the watch is water-resistant to 300m. The hallmark inner rotating bezel of the original now slopes towards the dial and gives the dial a pie-pan effect adding extra depth. Like the original rotating dive bezel, the elongated markers are interspersed with dots and Arabic numerals at 15, 30 and 45. Unlike the original, these are now a golden colour to match the yellow gold-plated indices that are applied to the black dial. Again, the indices are elongated to match the markers on the flange. The golden triangle at noon represents Alpina’s logo and has a round cut-out area in the centre and is aligned with the inverted triangle on the rotating bezel when the latter is not in use.
The longer minutes hand with its large arrow tip is another signature design feature of the original, and, like the short hour hand and central seconds hand, is treated with white luminescent material. All three hands are yellow gold-plated, and all the inscriptions on the dial are golden. The contrast between the black dial with sunray finishing and the matte golden touches works very well indeed. The original hesalite glass has been replaced with a scratch-proof domed sapphire glass.
However, where designers have strayed from the original – and the 2016 versions of the Seastrong Heritage – regards the elimination of the date window, no doubt a positive decision for many. Powered by the automatic calibre AL-525, based on a robust and accurate Sellita SW 200, the movement delivers a 38-hour power reserve.
The Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Heritage comes on a casual brown calfskin leather strap with a pin buckle with a complimentary black rubber strap.
Availability & Price
The retail price of the Seastrong Diver 300 Heritage is EUR 1,495 and can be ordered directly from Alpina’s website as of now. For more information, please visit alpinawatches.com.