It’s no secret to our regular readers that we here at worn&wound love vintage designs. The retro comeback over the past few years has been wonderful, producing stunning pieces with a variety of inspirations. But perhaps some of the best work has come from the resurgence of the gentleman’s sporting watch. Not too sporty, but not too dressy either, these hybrids strike a sweet spot that works for almost any occasion. Super Compressor-style divers are a perfect example of this, and Alpina’s entry into the category looks to be a serious contender in a hotly contested space.
Today, we’re taking a look at the vintage-inspired Alpina Seastrong Diver Heritage, a watch that we first had a chance to play with at Basel last year. With its strong roots and Alpina’s reputation for quality production, does the Seastrong Diver Heritage live up to expectations? Let’s take a closer look.
The inspiration–the Alpina 10, produced in 1967.
The Alpina 10 featured an EPSA-made Super Compressor case.
Alpina Seastrong Diver Heritage Review
Caliber AL-525/Sellita SW200
42mm x 50mm
5mm x 4mm
The case of the Seastrong Diver Heritage is undoubtedly what makes this watch special, but it’s remarkably simple and restrained. Viewed from the top, it’s a mass of polished surfaces, with long wide-set lugs giving an athletic stance to a more dressy finish. The polishing continues in the side profile down the rounded bezel and along a thin bevel on the outer lugs before giving way to a fine, even brushing. The length of the lugs, perhaps slightly daunting when seen from above, show a wrist-hugging curve in profile which helps greatly with wearability.
On the three o’clock side are the Seastrong Diver Heritage’s signature dish–the handsome, well-sized crowns at two and four. At four, the crown bearing the Alpina triangle emblem controls winding, time and date setting. The hash-marked crown at two controls the internal dive bezel. Both crowns screw down tightly, work smoothly, and provide a helping of generous vintage cool. Around back, the feeling of polish and quality continues with a beautifully embossed screw-down case back (as opposed to a true Super Compressor whose case back is pressure-fitted) featuring the “Alpina 1883 Genéve” script and trident below a sharp line of Alpine peaks.
Moving our attention to the dial, the Seastrong Diver Heritage has a subtle charm that shows itself best in the fine details. Take for example the main dial itself–in photos and passing glances, it’s easy enough to pass this off as gloss white, but take the time to examine it and you’ll find that it’s an almost cream color with a very slight sunburst, giving off an aged vibe without leaning on faux patina. This off-white is framed nicely by the black rotating bezel, which pulls off one of the watch’s best visual tricks. The contrasting ring visually compacts the whole dial, making 42 millimeters of nearly all dial feel smaller and more manageable.
For markers, the Seastrong Diver Heritage offers elegant applied batons doubled at three, six and nine, and replaced by the Alpina triangle at 12 o’clock. It’s a clean, almost minimal approach supported by the dive bezel’s lines at the hours and small individual minute dots.
Despite the diver style and 300 meters of water resistance, the lume on this piece is a bit of a disappointment. Though there is some of the compound on the small triangle at 12, the rest of the markers along the bezel feature very little of it. Even on a strong charge, these stop glowing very quickly. While this watch is more of a desk-diver style to begin with, a bit more attention toward low-light visibility would have been appreciated. The hands redeem it a bit, while also adding more mid-century flavor and personality to the mix.
The lume-filled baton hours is supported by a long baton minutes capped abruptly with a triangle, turning the hand into an oversized arrow. This style is a vintage diver hallmark of classic designs like the Yema Superman, Wittnauer Professional Diver’s Chronograph and Alpina’s own period Super Compressor, and adds easy minutes legibility at a glance. The lume on these puts out a respectable glow with some solid longevity. One of the more divisive features of the dial, however, is the placement of the date window.
Not quite three, not quite four o’clock, the window sits on top of the four o’clock marker while continuing its line inward. While it’s definitely an unorthodox approach, maintaining the usual lines across the dial goes a long way to maintaining dial symmetry, at least to my eye.
Behind the handsome case back beats a solid heart. Based on the standby Sellita SW200, the Alpina Caliber AL-525 comes with a smooth 28,800bph sweep and ease of maintenance. While it’s based on the common Sellita caliber, the AL-525 also offers some nice bespoke touches like Geneva stripes and a custom-engineered rotor assembly (hidden though they might be behind the solid case back). It’s a fine timekeeper that works well at this price point.
Straps and Wearability
The Seastrong Diver Heritage comes with a single strap choice, but it’s a great one. The waterproof black leather is thick, supple and has just a hint of grain and off white contrast stitching that plays nicely off the dial. The buckle is extremely cool as well, with one of the subtlest signatures I’ve ever seen–a stealthy off-center triangle hints at brand rather than shouting it. Like the rest of the watch, it’s a restrained, gentlemanly choice. There are, however, a few different options we’d like to see for dressing this down. A waterproof canvas or nylon mil-strap could work well here, but the real leader should be a perlon. In the right color, the casual vintage look of a woven perlon strap could transform this into the perfect weekender for the dapper man.
That said, it’s a remarkably versatile piece as it is, looking right at home underneath a suit cuff or at the beach. While 42 x 50 millimeters is hardly vintage sized, the black inner bezel and downturned lugs help it wear significantly smaller, and it felt nearly perfect on my 6.75-inch wrist.
While Alpina has copied pretty closely from their classic Super Compressors for this gentleman’s sporting watch, the Seastrong Diver Heritage faces some modern challenges from some of worn&wound’s favorite watches: the Tudor Black Bay, the Oris Divers Sixty-Five, and the Longines Legend Diver. So, how does the Alpina compare? At roughly half the price of the Tudor, the Seastrong Diver Heritage certainly offers more of a value proposition than the Black Bay, though that gap does makes direct comparison difficult.
As for the Oris, while the Divers Sixty-Five may have more personality (especially in 40mm trim), the Alpina feels more refined–more on the gentlemanly side of the gentleman’s sporting watch equation. However, the Seastrong Diver Heritage does lie squarely in the cross-hairs of the Longines Legend Diver. Both are Super Compressors styles, both are 42 millimeters, both can be found for roughly the same price, and both draw from notable ’60s inspirations. There’s not much to separate the two, at least on paper, but how do they stack up in the real world? In short, it comes down mostly to personal preference. But for my money, the Alpina simply has a more distinct personality. The off-white dial, the arrow minutes hand, the mountains on the case back–it’s human in a way the Longines somehow isn’t. This is the one for the man who wants to stand out a bit, but wants to do it with impeccable class.
Hailing from Redondo Beach, California, Sean’s passion for design and all things mechanical started at birth. Having grown up at race tracks, hot rod shops and car shows, he brings old-school motoring style and a lifestyle bent to his mostly vintage watch collection. He is also the Feature Editor and Videographer for Speed Revolutions.