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Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator Watch Review

Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator

The Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator is a quirky watch. Part 1970s flavoured sports piece, part historical timekeeper, the first aspect is pretty obvious at a glance, but the second might not be. So first, it’s worth talking about what a regulator actually is, given it’s not something that crops up too often. The most famous recent one was probably the colourful Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein version, and it’s not exactly a crowded field.

Regulators come from watchmaking – not in the sense that they were built by watchmakers, but in that they helped watchmakers work. Historically, larger workshops would have had big, central clocks that watchmakers would regulate the watches they were working on against. They were the reference that helped a watchmaker know that their work was solid. To make these clocks easy to read at a glance, they split out the hours, minutes and seconds onto separate scales – normally a central minute hand, with seconds and hours on their own subdials.

Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator
Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator

The system has since died a death as there are much more accurate ways of regulating watches than timing it against a clock. When you can use specialised machines to test the exact rare of the balance spring, manual regulation is a relic of the past. But the style, if not the practical need for it, persists a little – hence the modern regulator wristwatch.

That all said, the Alpiner Extreme Regulator is anything but old fashioned, no matter how anachronistic its roots might be. As per usual, minutes are located centrally. But hours are on a subdial at ten o’clock and seconds are at six o’clock. Most watchmakers would put hours at 12 o’clock to keep things nicely balanced, but not Alpina. Instead, we have an off-kilter, asymmetrical layout, complete with differently sized subdials. It’s enough to make anyone’s OCD flare up hard.

Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator

Those subdials interrupt a cool, textured dial based on Alpina’s mountain logo – which itself can be seen at three o’clock, which is again an odd placement. The tessellating triangles make for a look somewhere between guilloche and architecture and it suits the wider watch perfectly. I kind of love it.

As for the aforementioned wider watch, it definitely falls into the integrated bracelet sports watch category. Hell, it reads like a greatest hits of Genta-style 1970s design and even without looking at the watch you can guess a few key elements. The multi-level construction offers a round bezel – complete with visible screws, of course – a cushion case and wide, Nautilus-like shoulders, all with a flat-linked, industrially styled steel bracelet. The fact that they’ve avoided slotting in an octagon somewhere shows some restraint, but the influences aren’t exactly understated.

Not that it doesn’t all work though. At 41mm across, it’s actually relatively diminutive in the field compared to anything with a name more than three letters long – and where the PRX offers streamlined simplicity, the Alpiner Extreme Regulator goes for a more-is-more approach. I mean, it does have Extreme in the name; it shouldn’t be a surprise. That shape’s been enhanced by the requisite mix of polished and brushed surfaces to really emphasise the different levels and edges. It’s a lot, but it’s also all good.

Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator
Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator

The movement inside all of that metal is the AL-650, a riff on a workhorse Sellita calibre. That means a bit of a lacklustre 38-hour power reserve and is honestly one of the few places in this watch that seems a bit cheap. These days, that’s just not up to snuff, even if it does make for a reliable, easily serviced movement. Still, at least it’s finished relatively (if accessibly) well, visible through the caseback with a big, bold Alpina rotor.

Now, 41mm might seem svelte for a big sporty watch, but it doesn’t feel it on the wrist. Its depth and various levels make it feel chunky. Not unwearably so – in fact, there’s something satisfying about it – but enough that you won’t be confusing it for a dress watch any time soon. The bracelet helps a lot with the feel, as well machined as an integrated number needs to be and then some. I didn’t get a chance to try it on the rubber strap but I can’t imagine it works nearly as well.

Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator

The Alpiner Extreme Regulator’s an odd duck. On the one hand, it’s pure zeitgeisty goodness, an ode to 1970s sports luxe with a level of glorious overdesign that suggests too much coffee. Or Adderall. But the actual layout, the regulator, with its anachronistically split indicators is something that nobody asked for or even thought about – which is honestly, why I like it.

I’ve always liked regulators, whether that’s the aforementioned Louis Erard, Garrick’s British version, the occasional vintage piece, or this. They’re odd to read at first, but are something you get used to pretty quickly. The rest of the Alpiner Extreme Regulator I can appreciate, even if it’s not something I’d buy myself, but the contrast is incredibly appealing. If they threw in a better movement, I’d be tempted.

Price and Specs:

Model: Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator
Ref: AL-650DGN4AE6
Case: 41mm diameter x 12mm thickness, stainless steel
Dial: Dark grey with triangle pattern
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Alpina calibre AL-650, automatic, 31 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Strap: Navy blue rubber
Price: £1,895, limited to 888 pieces

More details at Alpina.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.