The new Alpina KM-710, which debuted this week at the JCK watch and jewelry fair in Las Vegas, is a contemporary take on the naval service wristwatches that Alpina produced in the 1930s for the German military.
Alpina was one of the Swiss watchmakers tasked by Germany’s Kriegsmarine (hence the “KM”) in the early 1930s to produce much-needed service watches with clearly legible dials and hands for its Admiralty and other officers. These highly reliable timepieces were used by telephone and radio services, artillery, and transport and engineering corps, among other branches. These and other early wristwatches, which eventually came to supplant pocketwatches in civilian life, were introduced primarily for military missions, which required soldiers’ hands to be free and for the reading of the time to be accomplished through a simple twist of a wrist.
Alpina navel service wristwatches from the 1930s-1940s era are very popular with collectors, but very few of them remain in good condition today and most of them measured just 32 mm to 35 mm in diameter — rather small by today’s standards, especially for a men’s military watch. Thus, Alpina decided to introduce the new KM-710, a watch that is in every regard a faithful reinterpretation of its historical forebears, except for its more contemporary dimensions of 41.5 mm in diameter and its modern in-house movement. (The original model is pictured next to the new one above.)
The Alpina KM-710 has a period-accurate dial — including the placement of a subdial at 6 o’clock — with the notable modern-day touch of using Super-LumiNova in the indices and hands rather than the potentially hazardous luminescent radium of the original. The 41.5-mm stainless steel case has a screwed caseback, a sapphire crystal, and a water-resistance of 50 meters.
The movement — on display through a caseback window — is Alpina’s in-house Caliber AL-710, with automatic winding and a host of haute horlogerie finishes. The black-coated ball bearing rotor is reminiscent of the “pendulum rotor” that Alpina incorporated into its historical 582 caliber from 1949. The decorations include Côtes de Genève and circular graining, plus bevelled edges and rhodium finishing on the bridges and cocks. The movement consists of 134 components and measures 30.5 mm in diameter and 6.3 mm thick; it has a balance frequency of 28,800 vph and a power reserve of 42 hours when fully wound.
The Alpina KM-710 has a vintage-look stitched leather strap and comes in a handsome presentation box. Collectors who might have been resigned to shelling out big bucks for an antique Alpina military watch should appreciate the ticket price on this modern re-edition: just $2,195.