I recently reviewed the Alpina Extreme Diver 300 Chronograph Automatic, for my online watch magazine, Escapement. As you’ll see in my review, re-presented here, this divers’ watch offers robust construction, a chronograph and incredible value for money.
My son, Euan, is 15 years old and, in my opinion, should consider destruct-testing products as a possible career choice once he leaves school. Throughout his childhood he has always exhibited a profound talent at breaking objects. An item may appear perfectly serviceable until it falls into the hands of my son, after which it is resigned to traumatic treatment that invariably results in devastation. My first recollection of Euan’s innate ability to destroy items harks back to a summer holiday. En route to our hotel, he proceeded to describe his spectacles as loose before handing me a collection of parts. They would prove beyond repair and a hasty detour was necessary — a visit to an optician to source a speedy replacement.
Mobile phones, of which there have been many, have disintegrated. Headphones, invariably welded to his ears wherever he ventures, often succumb to strain. Indeed, we have just purchased his 12th pair. It doesn’t seem to matter how much an item costs; a brief association with Euan results in that item’s future life on a landfill site somewhere in Northern England. When Euan asks if he can borrow one of my cherished timepieces, I do suffer an overwhelming sense of anxiety. Nevertheless, with repeated pestering, I generally accede to his request. Recently, I tried on a very handsome Alpina divers’ watch and now think I have discovered a timepiece ideally suited to Euan and the harsh treatment he seems predisposed to mete out.
I have always had a penchant for divers’ watches, with their robust construction, capable of withstanding pressures at near unfathomable depths, and their hardy exteriors, able to shrug off minor impacts. In the case of this latest watch from Alpina, it’s hewn-from-granite solidity is paired with one of my favorite complications, the chronograph. The complication is incredibly useful, capable of timing an event, making it an ideal companion in this competitive world. On the face it of it, the Alpina Extreme Diver 300 Chronograph Automatic has two distinct attributes that I cherish dearly. I just wonder whether this watch is Euan-proof.
By pairing a black dial with white dial detail, Alpina has established the foundations of a successful marriage. In the case of the Extreme Diver 300, the legibility and ease of read-off is augmented by a number of expertly executed design elements.
The bicompax layout grants a highly agreeable balance and proportion to the dial. The subdials are adorned with a combination of white Arabic numerals and simple white strokes. The hour hand features a silver border and the minutes hand, a red border. Both are lined with an expanse of white luminescent material. The central chronograph seconds hand is white with a red counterweight featuring the brand’s red triangular emblem.
The hour markers are circular dots, again lined with luminescent material. Encircling the dial is a chapter ring that’s clean and simple to read. An elongated, curved aperture reveals the date, with the neighboring values visible above and below.
Measuring 44 mm in diameter and constructed of stainless steel, this timepiece exudes a masculine, sturdy appearance. The case cleverly fuses circular and angular lines, surpassing the functional and delivering a truly handsome aesthetic.
The unidirectional bezel is highly polished and incorporates a black PVD inlay. Highly polished bolts, featuring triangular recesses, punctuate the bezel. Although quite attractive, I can envisage debris accumulating in the triangular shaped cavities, but this is only a minor criticism. Ordinarily, a solid caseback is de rigueur for a diver’s watch, however the Extreme Diver 300 features a sapphire crystal. This is highly unusual for a diver’s watch with a maximum water resistance of 300 meters, but an aspect of the specification I particularly appreciate. I never tire of seeing the mechanical heart of a timepiece, industriously at work.
The beveled edge of the screwed-in caseback enhances free movement of the wrist and delivers excellent wearer comfort. The crown features a black textured grip delivering both delightful tactility and an attractive appearance.
Would-be buyers are offered a choice of a three-row stainless steel bracelet, steel Milanese bracelet, or rubber strap. I had the good fortune to try the latter variant on my wrist and appreciated its design. The deployant had a quality feel and closed with a firm, positive action.
Alpina’s Caliber AL-725 is a self-winding movement. It has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4 Hz), contains 25 jewels and holds a power reserve of 46 hours. It is based on the Sellita SW500 movement, a well-respected chronograph movement, known for its reliable service.
The oscillating mass has a contemporary appearance, with its distinctive black finish.
Alpina has chosen not to equip this model with a small seconds display, despite the Sellita SW500 movement offering this facility. The simplicity of the aforementioned bicompax layout is a distinct benefit of this decision.
The Alpina Extreme Diver 300 Chronograph Automatic is a handsome and practical timepiece. In keeping with many of the Genevan watch brand’s products, it delivers incredible value for money, retailing at £1,840 (as of September 2014).
By eschewing the small seconds display, often found on watches containing the Sellita SW500, Alpina has delivered a balanced, bicompax layout that I find clean and simple to interpret.
The case, especially the unidirectional bezel, exhibits a solidity and the watch has a welcome heft to its construction.
Is the watch Euan-proof? To be honest, without subjecting the watch to his prolonged association and his wrecking ball hands, I could not say definitively. Nevertheless, with its tangible robustness, I would suggest the probability of this model surviving unscathed is far greater than that of many watches I come across.
- Model: Alpina Extreme Diver 300 Chronograph Automatic
- Reference: AL-725LB4V26
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 44 mm; water resistant to 30 bar (300 meters); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; date; chronograph
- Movement: AL-725 (based on Sellita SW500), self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz), 25 jewels; power reserve of 46 hours.
- Strap: Black rubber strap presented on a steel deployant
- Price: £1,840 (as of 9/2014)