First Look: The Alpina AlpinerX Outdoors Smartwatch

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The Alpina AlpinerX is a “connected” watch that combines a sporty aesthetic with outdoorsy features like a compass, altimeter, UV gauge, and a host of fitness tracking capabilities. The AlpinerX will convert your body’s functions into data-rich charts in its associated app; meanwhile text and phone call notifications from your phone show up on the watch. Connected, indeed.

Though its myriad digital complications are the main story, as a physical object the AlpinerX is a curious item. The hi-tech steel and glass-fiber case material in matte navy blue makes this watch appear to be plastic (to be clear, it is not plastic). There are untidy seams between different sections of the case that look and feel like the edge of cut plastic, and the overall vibe is Swatch-y. That’s unfortunate, given that this hi-tech case, which is incredibly durable, is meant to inspire confidence and adventurousness.Fit is predictably big at 45-millimeters, and I like that Alpina didn’t shrink the lugs out of proportion to try to make the AlpinerX fit more folks. If you’re one who shies away from larger watches, then shy away. The strap is a great piece of matching blue rubber, and the folding clasp is particularly nice in navy blue anodized aluminum. The slightly domed sapphire crystal and solid case back help provide 300-meters of water resistance.

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The bi-directional bezel is also rendered in handsome navy blue anodized aluminum. It clicks 120 times per rotation, and when combined with the compass function—which turns the hands into a single rotating needle—this navigational tool becomes useful for those hiking with dead smartphones or even for SCUBA divers, who often wear a bezel-equipped compass. Lume is bright, and legibility is excellent in all conditions.

The crown is also blue anodized aluminum, and while that material works wonders on the clasp and bezel, it is just too iridescent on the crown and, alas, also appears to be plastic (it is not). Further, the crown is not a crown at all, but a pusher disguised as one. “Impostor!” cries the angry throng of vigilant watch-heads forever keeping the purity of the crown in check.

But let’s quiet the revolt and take in the Caliber MMT-283-1, a quartz movement with more connected features than a Telsa stuck in Los Angeles traffic.

Functions include:

  • Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Date, Worldtimer
  • Time Recorder (stop watch)
  • Smart Alarm
  • Activity Tracking
  • Sleep Tracking
  • Dynamic Coach
  • Notifications for Phone Messages and Calls
  • UV Indicator
  • Altimeter
  • Compass
  • Thermometer
  • Barometer

 

This Swiss-made movement is meant to be future-proof via firmware and app upgrades, so it should stay relevant for as long as our current data-systems remain in use. The AlpinerX collects and saves personal data like health stats and your location in the SwissConnect Cloud. Those concerned with privacy may want to read the fine print before submitting their heart-rate and whereabouts—a data-point combo that could be quite revealing (innuendo noted).

According to the AplinerX, my house sits at 326-feet above sea level, which more or less jives with topo maps. Be it by car, bike or hike, I enjoy having an altimeter with me when I’m in the hills. On a recent drive up into the Catskill Mountains, the AlpinerX was especially fun to use. Folks doing more serious physical training will appreciate seeing their tallied elevation gains, as I once did while racing bicycles.

The compass is very cool, too, and seeing the hands leap into position to become the needle is impressive. Compass functionality with the AlpinerX seems straight forward, though I have yet to do any real wilderness tracking with it. However, I’ve lost GPS signals far too many times to trust anything other than an old-school magnetic unit as a secondary unit—this predilection not entirely unlike SCUBA diving with a mechanical watch.

To my surprise, I found the AlpinerX’s UV gauge compelling and interesting. I operate under a dated and thoroughly inaccurate notion that sunscreen is bad for you (the opposite is true, of course). By looking at the UV radiation gauge on the AlpinerX, I became aware of whether I should have some sun protection on or not. This was a totally unexpected health benefit. And in extreme conditions, especially on water and snow, may provide crucial information.

The full range.

The other complications are all standard on most fitness trackers and smartphones. If you are looking for fitness-oriented functionality in a watch, it would be hard to fault the AlpinerX as a durable and highly capable companion for all kinds of adventures.

The AlpinerX is available in four colorways and costs $895. Alpina AlpinerX

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At age 7 Allen fell in love with a Timex boy's dive watch his parents gave him, and he's taken comfort in wearing a watch ever since. Allen is especially curious about digital technology having inspired a revival of analog technology, long-lasting handmade goods, and classic fashion. He lives in a one-room schoolhouse in The Hudson Valley with his partner and two orange cats.
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