Alpina develops sixth Manufacture caliber in honor of the legendary "bumper"
Founded in 1883, Alpina is a forward-looking manufacture, that occasionally allows itself a foray into its heritage. With almost 140 years of innovative collections and as many models that have made a mark in their time, its legacy has become a source of inspiration, turning up some little-known gems.
Once again, Alpina sets itself apart from the vintage trend aimed at creating an exact reproduction of a bygone watch. The brand prefers to focus on one of its rarest features, one called the "bumper movement". This is not a watch, a design or a dial, but a type of caliber.
The little-known story of the "bumper"
The "bumper movement" was used by Alpina in the 50s. Today, it is extremely rare – if not virtually impossible – to find. It is a movement with an oscillating weight that instead of turning 360° like a contemporary rotor, turns 120°.
On both sides of its course, a small spring serves to send the mass back in the opposite direction and facilitate the winding of the movement. The concept was simple and effective but gradually phased out in favor of the 360° rotor, becoming a rare movement sought-after by collectors.
A tribute piece
Now, Alpina has drawn inspiration from this unusual winding in developing its sixth Manufacture movement. It beats within the new Startimer Pilot Heritage Manufacture, a prestigious piece, aimed at fans of Swiss Made watches.
Known as the AL-709, the movement is a contemporary, accurate and robust creation that incorporates the hallmarks of its predecessor, the "bumper". This is because Alpina has designed its key component, the rotor, in the style of that from the Fifties. The oscillating weight from the Startimer Pilot Heritage Manufacture and that of the vintage "bumper” are related, sharing the same geometry and the same inspiration, but for two details: the vintage version rotates 120°, while the new one rotates 330°. Secondly, the traditionally shaped springs originally used have been replaced by a blade for greater rotation. The AL-709 caliber can also be admired in all its glory through the open case back.
The advent of a new Startimer Pilot Heritage
To celebrate its new movement, Alpina has selected the cushion-shaped case from its Startimer Pilot Heritage collection. It is the perfect combination of a circle in a square with delicately rounded edges, emphasized by a case middle that alternates between polished and satin-brushed surfaces.
The AL-709 caliber hugs each contour, as a mark of respect for watchmaking tradition. Previously, the caliber and the case had to have exactly the same profile (in the tradition of so-called "form" movements). The beating heart of the watch becomes one with the delicate cushion that follows the contour of the wrist. To complete the vintage look, Alpina has given the Startimer Pilot Heritage Manufacture a dial with an iconic design harking back to the pilots watches also created by the brand in the 50s.
A celebration of heritage
Limited to just 188 pieces, the style available in the US features a 42mm steel case with three matching hands enhanced by a central red line for a sporty feel. To maintain the flow of the case, the crown has been placed at 4 o’clock, in the vanishing line of the case band. Features a power reserve of 38 hours and a brown calfskin strap with off-white topstitching.