Introducing the Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage Collection, A Value-Packed, “True-GMT” Traveler’s Watch

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Alpina has just announced four new Startimer Pilot Heritage models for the US market. These are big, bold, funky aviation watches that measure 42 millimeters across and 12 millimeters deep. With their beefy, multi-faceted, cushion style cases and four bold colorways, these watches are never going to be a sheepish choice on anyone’s wrist.

The copper, dark gray, and light blue dials ship on light brown leather, and the fourth navy dial comes on black leather. The main hands and applied markers are in steel, while the seconds hand is bright orange on all four models, and, at least in photos, every colorway “works.”The movement is Cal. AL-555, an in-house-modified Sellita engine that features a true GMT function—meaning that one can jump the hour hand to adjust local time while the GMT hand stays put to your chosen home reference. The jumping hour hand is usually preferred over other GMT configurations (such as the ETA 2893-2, which only provides standard setting of the local time).

The Startimer Heritage GMT’s design actually dates back to a similarly styled alarm watch from Alpina’s back catalog, but here the inner rotating disc is the GMT hand, while the second crown advances the inner bidirectional 24-hour bezel for tracking a third timezone. The rotating disc (or GMT hand) remains alarm-like in appearance (a la Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox), while the second crown and rotating inner bezel are reminiscent of a dual-crown Super Compressor. All together, this watch is a playful mash-up of styles and functions.

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If I had to offer a criticism of this layout, it’d be that there’s a pretty wide gap between the GMT pointer and the 24-hour bezel. Further, because the main indicators reside within that gap, it might be tricky not to read 12-hour time by accident, especially when jet lagged. It also appears that the GMT arrow is just paint, and not the Super-LumiNova used on the main hands and indicators. This omission seems like an oversight, but because the 24-hour bezel is also bereft of lume, the GMT arrow would be pointing only at the main indicators in the dark, which seems like a foggy proposition. Solution: live with local time in the dark or simply turn on a light.

Surrounding the GMT disc is a donut-like dial that holds the main indications. Its radial brushing is picked up on the top of the case, tying the dial and case together.

The date window at three o’clock should garner no gripes, as a GMT requires one, especially when leaping across the international date line. This window is nicely framed and well positioned on the dial. To make room for the date aperture, Alpina eliminated the three o’clock marker altogether, which is a personal preference of mine. As date windows go, this one gets top grades.

The two crowns are prominent, and the lower one is signed with the Alpina logo while the upper one has a waffle pattern. The three o’clock profile is complex and compelling, while the 9 o’clock profile is robust and masculine, if a bit plain.A boxy sapphire crystal is up top with a screwed-in, engraved solid steel case-back below, together providing a respectable 100 meters of water resistance.

These four watches are available now and sell for around $1,395 in the US. Alpina

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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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