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Alpina - The Alpiner X smart watch for outdoors

Alpina The Alpiner X smart watch for outdoors

Alpina opts for an original way to launch its latest horological smart watch.

Thanks to a carefully orchestrated teasing campaign, the potential customers of the new Alpiner X smart watch were aware of its existence as early as the week of the SIHH thanks to a series of targeted Facebook advertisements. I mentioned this during my interview with Peter Stas earlier this year and was prompty offered the opportunity to be the first journalist to test the new watch.

As a pre-millennial there is something reassuringly familiar to me about the Alpiner X. Anyone who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s will not find its “ana-digi” display strange and will instantly find the operation using the crown and pushers intuitive. Younger watch fans will no doubt be more familiar with a high-resolution touch screen and daily charging, but that defeats at least two of the objectives of this new smart watch. First of all, it’s made for outdoorsy people, the type who don’t have charging points accessible when they are sleeping on top of a glacier at 3,000 metres, for example. Secondly, it has a sleep cycle alarm function, which is only really useful if you wear the watch while you sleep – a time that most other smart watch owners will be using for recharging.

I like the fact that Alpina has chosen a direction for this watch and stuck with it. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, the Alpiner X is resolutely focussed on the outdoors and has just the right functions you need for this environment. There are no irksome notifications and no customisable dials, just useful information like compass bearing, altitude, temperature, UV index and barometric pressure (and thus the possibility of forecasting the weather). All this works without the watch needing to be synchronised with your phone. If you do have your phone with you, however, you can sync your activity with your phone’s GPS signal. The watch allows you to choose between three different modes (“GPS walk”, “GPS run” and “Nordic”, which covers activities like cross country skiing). You can also arrange the sequence in which these functions are displayed according to your personal preferences.

My daily drive from my house to the nearest railway station was the perfect opportunity to test the altitude readings, since this short trip of barely more than five minutes covers an altitude difference of 250 metres, which the Alpiner X recorded faithfully with a cliff-face-shaped curve on the graph in the associated application. But the Alpiner X cries out for a more thorough test, so I took it on a weekend afternoon walk to the isolated congregation of buildings known as Solalex, at the western foot of Switzerland’s Diablerets massif. In summer it’s a haven for hikers, but in winter it is only accessible by foot (or skidoo) and thus the preserve of snow-shoe walkers and cross-country skiers. Thanks to the Alpiner X I was able to record a walk of nine kilometres with an altitude difference of several hundred metres (even though it felt like more through the snow, given that the starting altitude was already 1,200 metres).

The Alpiner X smart watch for outdoors

Alpiner X outdoor Smart Watch © Alpina

To record your sleep activity, you can wear the watch or leave it under your pillow. Another touch of nostalgia I liked here is the old-school beeps that wake you up at the ideal moment in your sleep cycle according to the window you set in the application before your required wake-up time. A similar, more discreet, beep sounds occasionally to remind you that you have been inactive for too long – something that happens with alarming regularity when I am writing at my desk.

The best thing about the Alpiner X by far for me is that it’s a watch. By that, I mean that it’s not a screen. It is “always on” and a simple glance at the dial shows you the time, without any delay. The orange accents on the dial and rubber strap on the model I tested unmistakably singled it out as a sports watch but also made it easily legible. The digital display is compact and unobtrusive, yet contains all the information you need. And the subtle touch that always brings a smile to my face is when the hour and minute hands elegantly sweep aside from the digital display whenever you activate one of the functions so that you can read it clearly.

Although the watch was presented at Baselworld, its real launch is based on a Kickstarter campaign. Unlike other such campaigns, which are usually aimed at acquiring in advance the funds required to finance a new watch, Alpina is using Kickstarter more as a marketing exercise, since the company is hardly a start-up. As Peter Stas explains in the above-mentioned interview, e-commerce is taking on a strategic importance for the brand and the data collected from such a campaign will no doubt come in useful.

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Established in 1883, Alpina is recongised as the inventor of the sports watch as we know it today, having presented its Alpina 4 model back in 1938.

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