Autumn has finally arrived in Europe, marking the annual migration of birds as they flock to warmer climates. Alpina is also taking a break from the cold Swiss air and hot-footing to sunnier locations, more precisely SoCal. Indeed, the latest-generation Alpiner Extreme, the brand’s most formidable contender for outdoor adventures, now dons a cool California dial. Coupled with its aggressive price tag, fans of California dials are going to find this one hard to resist.
Revamped in 2022, the robust Alpiner Extreme Automatic has a three-part 41mm cushion-shaped case with a thickness of 11.5mm. Designed to endure knocks, blows and bad weather, there are protective bumpers on both sides of the case, and the screw-down rubber-clad crown ensures optimal grip and the 200m water-resistance. The angular case and round fixed bezel – secured by six screws with triangular heads (Alpina logo) – feature brushed surfaces for a sporty look with polished bevels to highlight the dynamic architecture. Underscoring the rugged sports watch vibe, the Alpiner Extreme comes with an integrated (looking) textured black rubber strap.
The dial of the new Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic flaunts an attractive California dial. Originally designed to offer error-proof readings from any angle, California dials feature a mix of Arabic and Roman numerals. Rolex and Panerai tool watches of the late 1930s and early 1940s were the first to use these mixed-numeral dials that were treated with luminous radium to provide pilots and combat frogmen maximum legibility in adverse conditions. The general formula is that the upper indices are represented by Roman numerals (X, XII, I and II), the numerals 4 through 8 are Arabic, the numbers 3, 6 and 9 are horizontal lines, and the 12 o’clock index is an inverted triangle. The reason behind this unusual configuration was to ensure that every number was crystal clear and impossible to confuse with any other. In more traditional formats, the figure 4, for example, might appear as IIII or IV, 6 could be read upside-down as 9, and 12 was often replaced by a brand’s logo. Although there are still heated debates regarding the origins of the name ‘California’, the name gained traction among watch collectors in the 1980s and is used to describe watches with a mix of Roman and Arabic numerals.
Set against a matte, grainy black background, the dial displays a combination of Roman numerals (X-II) and Arabic numerals (4-8) with horizontal dashes for 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and an inverted triangle at 12 o’clock. All the indices and the hour and minute hands are treated with vintage beige luminescence for a nice retro touch. The central seconds hand features the signature red Alpina triangle counterweight matching the red Alpina logo at noon, and there is a date window at 3 o’clock with a black background matching the dial.
The sapphire crystal on the screwed-down caseback reveals the automatic calibre AL-525, a Sellita SW200-1 base with a customised black rotor, a frequency of 28,800vph and a somewhat limited power reserve of 38 hours.
The Alpiner Extreme Automatic California retails for CHF 1,595 and can be purchased online at the Alpina website, with deliveries expected by the end of November 2023.