Alpina Startimer Chronograph Gets Blackout Treatment

Who doesn’t like the external simplicity and internal complication of a monopusher chronograph? OK, there’ll be a few curmudgeons who want a double quota of buttons to play with but for the rest of us, a mono is cool.  

There’s history at play here too. It’s always tricky to say that so-and-so firm was first with a new complication (after all, remember when Louis Moinet came along and pre-dated Rieussec’s ‘first’ chronograph?), but Longines stake their claim to the first commercial wrist chronometer in 1913. That was a monopusher and intended to make it easier for doctors to time patients’ heartbeats. All Doc had to do was depress the single pusher, count thirty heartbeats, click it again and read their patient’s pulse from the red pulsometer scale on the dial edge.


It wasn’t long before these natty new wrist chronographs intended for medics found themselves trackside and timing those new fanged motor cars as they raced around circuits. And pilots found them handy too for time/distance reckoning. And a single button meant less chance of giving the wrong one a shove by mistake although, to be fair, this probably wasn’t the intention.

Alpina made monos back in the 1970s and have had a resurrected monopusher on the list for a while now. While it might look like some of the other seventies-esque offerings from other makers, as well as heritage it has another ace up its single sleeve – its movement. 

Not for Alpina a workaday movement from Sellita or ETA (fine as they are), they’ve put a La Joux Perret in the Startimer. OK, both firms being subsidiaries of the Citizen Watch Company leviathan doesn’t half help, but it’s refreshing to see a firm putting a different engine in a watch at this price. Especially when you could pay a shedload more for a La J-P from quite a few other watch firms.

This one is a fully-integrated cam-actuated monopusher chronograph movement. ‘Integrated’ because the chronograph function is part of the movement, not a separate module grafted onto a non-chrono unit. That’s not to say either is better than the other – both approaches have strengths and weaknesses. For example, integrated movements are usually thinner but a little more tricksy to service as everything – including all those chronograph levers and springs – is all-in-one. Separate module construction can be cheaper and easier if something goes west in the chronograph works – often all it takes is the removal of three or four screws and the chrono module comes free from the main movement. Springs and roundabouts.

This time, Alpina have raided the La Joux Perret workshops for their AL-727 Calibre. OK, it’s not a column wheel movement but what did you expect for under $3,000? And you could very happily debate the advantages of cam-actuated movements until you ran out of beer to do it over. No matter – the AL-727 has a smoother pusher feel than you might expect for a cam-and-lever set-up and it’s a fine piece of engineering. 

This one has 28 jewels, a whopping 55 hour power reserve and ticks along at 28,800bph. And it’ll happily measure whatever you like as long as it doesn’t last longer than 30 minutes. So timing that tedious colleague from compliance banging on on the Teams call yet again may be too much of a stretch.  But for most chronograph jobs it’s fine. And it’s still way ahead of the (admittedly gorgeous) Omega Chronostop that could only time a duration of less than a minute.

Your Startimer has two sub-dials for running seconds and the 30-minute chronograph, chrono centre seconds and a tachymeter scale running around the rehaut. Time-wise, hours and minutes get taken care of with two lumed baton hands. 

You have your choice from two dials; a silver sunray with black chrono subdials or a black sunray dial with silvered chrono subdials. Whilst neither is particularly taxing to read, the white-hands-on-black-dial option is, as you’d expect, quicker and simpler to read at a glance. 

Whichever dial you choose, you get a PVD black case. PVD tends to be a bit Marmite – love it or hate it. It certainly has – particularly with this case shape – a whiff of the 1970s about it. For those of us who remember them, this is no bad thing; memories of lovely things like the pre-TAG Heuer 510.501 with its Lemania 5100 movement.

The case itself is a bit of a hybrid of a bullhead chrono and a cushion. It works on its own merits but, like the monopusher movement, it has heritage behind it. Back to the ‘70s again and you can find plenty of cases like this in Alpina’s catalogue. Now if only La Joux Perret could be persuaded to make a 5100-a-like central chrono minutes movement…

Practically, the case is on the larger side at 42mm diameter and just under 15mm thick, but at least you won’t forget you’ve got your watch on. Visually, the PVD coating takes some of the weight away but it’s still a proper, chunky piece of metal. The case is smooth on the sides with a brushed finish on top. The crown (and the solid back) both screw in and help the watch get rated to 100m of water resistance. On the front, the sapphire is slightly convex and Alpina have given it a scratch-resistant treatment. 

Alpina are only making 50 of each and, at sub-$3,000, we don’t expect either the silver or the blackout to hang around for long. 

Should you buy one?

There are other, cheaper monopusher chronographs out there. Some are quite a bit cheaper. But the Alpina gives you two things that most of those lack; heritage and that La Joux Perret movement. Alpina

Related Posts
Mark developed a passion for watches at a young age. At 9, he was gifted an Omega Time Computer manual from a local watch maker and he finagled Rolex brochures from a local dealer. Today, residing in the Oxfordshire village of Bampton, Mark brings his technical expertise and robust watch knowledge to worn&wound.
markchristie mark_mcarthur_christie