Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review of Alpina Extreme Sailing Limited Edition Automatic Diver

Model # AL525X4V6
Brand/Model:  Alpina Extreme Sailing Limited Edition Automatic Diver
Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  stainless steel case, stainless steel mesh bracelet
Complications:  date display
Price:  MSRP:  $1,500 USD

Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Alpina is a Swiss watch brand that I have been interested in for quite some time now.  They’re not a huge, top-of-the-mind brand name, but they do have a legitimate Swiss history of producing a wide array of watches since 1883.  The company prides itself with several innovations, ranging from the actual working environment of the watch factory to various quality control initiatives throughout the years.  The entire story is laid out on Alpina’s web site.
Since I like dive watches, the Extreme Sailing line was my focus in acquiring an Alpina and I decided to go with the Extreme Sailing Limited Edition (but at 8888 pieces total, ‘limited edition’ doesn’t have a lot of meaning).  I liked the look of the factory mesh, the clean, legible layout of the dial and the history of the Alpina name.
The Extreme Sailing Series ships in the largest watch box I have yet to see, measuring about 10” high, 11” wide and 8” deep.  Inside this ginormous box is a model of a catamaran sailing boat along with dedicated space for the watch.  The sailing boat model can be unscrewed from its base and displayed anywhere you wish.  An interesting addition to a unique watch.
The Extreme Sailing diver is a bit of an enigma.  This watch looks huge and by a reading of its dimensions, certainly sounds large.  Yet surprisingly, it does not wear all that big.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a big piece, but if I can pull it off on my smaller wrist, I am sure you can, too!
The Extreme Sailing diver starts with a solid brushed and polished all stainless steel case that measures 44.4mm without the large signed screwdown crown; 48.6mm crown inclusive.  Since the case is squareish in shape (a bit cushion like) a corner-to-corner measurement yields the dimension of 48.7mm and lug-to-lug of 49.3mm, mainly because the lugs are rather short.
Lug spacing is 22mm and case thickness is 13.1mm.  The caseback is brushed and a display type, showing off the cool-looking black Alpina signed rotor.  
The crown has a black rubber/plastic ring around it and is signed with the Alpina triangle logo in red.  The crown is easy to use and has a reassuring feel about it, requiring about four turns to lock.  I wish more screwdown crowns had this many turns on them.
The Extreme Sailing diver is factory rated for 300 meters of water resistance.
The dial is extremely open and clean on this watch and is a cinch to read under just about any circumstance.  The dial itself is a matte black with applied luminous markers that are part of the chapter ring.  The hands are silver with inset lume and are appropriately wide enough without looking goofy.  The center seconds hand is red/orange with a white triangular tail.  The seconds hand is not luminous, a detriment for a watch that purports to be a true diver, but it does look good.  Another demerit for a dive watch is the rather weak lume, it should be much brighter on this piece.
A quickset date is at the 3 position, with a white on black date wheel that looks great with the black dial.  Quickset action is good and alignment within the window is also spot on.
The Alpina name is rather large, located under the 12 position on the dial, with a smaller ‘Geneve’ printed underneath.  Above the 6 position, ‘300m/1000ft’ and ‘Automatic’ are printed and that’s the extent of the dial nomenclature. 
The dial is surrounded by a wide, flat topped bezel that is coated in what I believe is sapphire.  I have not been able to definitively confirm this, so let’s say it’s probably sapphire coated.  It’s a unidirectional 120-click affair with good action and minimal backlash. 

The first 20 minutes of the bezel track has a grey line underneath the arabics and minute markers.  The remainder of the bezel has arabics at the ‘fives’ every ten minutes (25, 35, etc.) and plain white markers at the other five minute steps.  One more demerit for a dive watch, there is no lume anywhere on the bezel.
Capping the dial is a flat sapphire crystal with a superb anti-reflective coating.  It’s one of those AR coatings that imparts a purple/blue tint to the crystal in certain light, but it also is one of those AR coatings that makes the crystal practically disappear in certain light.
Inside the Extreme Sailing diver is our friend and cohort, the ETA 2824-2 workhorse automatic.  It hacks, manually winds and sets just fine and has performed extremely well, running about -1 to +1 seconds over 24 hours during my testing.  Power reserve is 42 hours, as it should be.  I am glad that Alpina took the extra care to put their own stylized rotor on the movement.  The black color, the asymmetrical design and the Alpina lettering make a nice display back presentation.
Since one reason I ordered this watch was to get the factory mesh bracelet, I was excited because I think the mesh looks great on this model.  I was slightly let down by the bracelet for two reasons:  overall size and quality of finishing.  The edges could be finished smoother in a couple of spots (especially for a watch at this price point), but as a consolation, the edges are capped at the lugs and there are solid textured links on both sides of the clasp for sizing, which is easy if your wrist is large enough.
This was the first watch in literally hundreds I have owned that with all the removable links taken out, I still could not get a tight enough fit.  If you have a large wrist, this watch will be perfect for you.  The clasp is a pushbutton double locking type with a machined deployant featuring a perlage finish (a nice touch, as I have noticed more and more watch companies putting perlage on their clasps lately).  
The clasp has a slider adjustment for the slider-type (glide lock style) microadjustment.  It’s the type of slider that extends from the rear of the clasp to enlarge or shorten the clasp, either for microadjustment or for use as a dive extension.  I’m not a huge fan of this type of microadjustment because I don’t like the way the slider extends from the rear of the clasp and makes it longer and ungainly on the wrist. 
In order to get this watch to fit me properly, I had to remove the slider adjustment mechanism and fit the bracelet directly to the clasp.  This worked, but left the clasp with two gaps (one on each side) where the slider grips used to fit.  Not the most elegant solution, but since I wanted to retain the mesh bracelet and not put a strap on this watch, this was the only solution for me.  So if you have a 6-3/4” wrist or less, the Alpina Extreme Sailing diver with factory mesh bracelet will be too large for your wrist without putting on a strap or some sort of other bracelet option to replace the factory mesh.
The mesh bracelet measures 22mm continuous width from lugs to clasp.
Presentation is as previously discussed.  A huge box that houses the watch and the catamaran model.  It’s actually too big, but first impressions do count for something I guess.
Overall, I would say the Alpina Extreme Sailing diver is a watch for those of a bigger wrist.  It’s just about on the border of being too large if your wrist is 7” or less in size.  The watch does look good, appears to be well made and carries a true Swiss heritage, so that definitely counts for something these days.  And the catamaran model is pretty cool.
Pros:  clean, easy-to-read dial, large crown with plenty of turns to lock, nice hand set, great AR on sapphire crystal, looks great on the mesh bracelet, bonus sailboat model
Cons:  quality and application of lume needs improvement, mesh bracelet edges could be finished better, mesh bracelet too large for a smaller wrist, slider type microadjustment kind of clunky
Verdict:  a dive watch for a bigger wrist or for someone who wants an easy-to-see and easy-to-read dial with clean, yet somewhat bold looks

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.


  1. Hi, I just bought these days an Alpina Extreme Sailing, like in review, but with rubber strap.
    I read your review after buying it. Is it possible that the antireflective coating is just on the inside? I really cant find these typical blue shine, what I can see in your pictures. Maybe because its winter...
    Really, I was looking at it, but it hasnt the same blue tint as in your pictures.

    1. Hi Vic,

      Congrats on your watch. Hard to say why you don't see the blue anti-reflective tint. I always think that the best anti-reflective coating is the one you don't see. Maybe it is only on the inside, maybe they changed formulation, maybe it was the lighting you were viewing it in, who knows? It won't affect the performance of the watch, so I wouldn't worry about it.