With its new Alpina Comtesse (refs. AL-525APWD3CD3B and AL-525APW3CD6B) series of automatic wristwatches, the Swiss watchmaking brand targets a wide array of customers, both in terms of exterior styling and price. While some people may find this “one for everyone” concept a bit too undiscriminating, the logic behind it is undeniable. After all, Alpina is here for the money and there seems to be nothing more cost-effective than offering a model that, as generic as it is, allows the brand to make so many nice variations without investing too much money designing the new collection.
Delivered in five varieties, the new Alpina Comtesse somewhat disappoints with its nonspecific, elusive appearance. Looking at it for more than thirty seconds, gives you a mild case of deja vu: you just can’t stop wondering where you have seen this design before. You roll your eyes, snap your fingers, and make those um and ah sounds, but can’t really remember because, like those cheap models from Invicta and Fossil, the timepiece could have been delivered with just about any logo on its dial.
Yes, if you look closer, there is a certain family resemblance to other Alpine watches that make it a bit more recognizable. Among those that were released during the last couple of years, there is at least a couple that seem to have donated their parts to the Comtesse. The hour and minute hands seem to be borrowed from this year’s Alpiner AL-750SG4E6B chronograph, while the Arabic numerals and the applied triangular logo probably come courtesy of their new Startimer series of pilot’s watches.
Still, I if you don’t obsess with “originality” and not after a truly unique timekeeper, but are simply in search of a reasonably priced accessory that also happens to measure time, this new three-hander may be a nice choice.
For starters, it is powered by a dependable Sellita SW200 automatic movement that, while not as widespread as the good old ETA 2824-2 caliber, which it is basically a clone of, will probably soon become a new industry standard as ETA ebauches are getting increasingly more difficult to come by (at least, for smaller brands like Alpina).
Then again, its slightly generic look is, counterintuitively, a product of good design. Its 34 mm stainless steel body is well-sculpted, while its dial with white mother-of-pearl background is easily readable and, especially the version in steel where the applied Arabic numerals alternate with teardrop-shaped hour markers instead of set diamonds, is actually quite pleasant to look at.
The size of the case, too, seems to be well-chosen: the timepiece will look quite good on just about any wrist, even on the thinnest ones, yet there is large enough dial opening for time to be easily red.
Also, the price is right. I have already seen a number of these timekeepers selling online from $2500 for a two-tone version with diamonds to a more comfortable $900 for a Comtesse in plain steel.
Photos: Alpina Watches
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 4.5/5
Value for money: 3/5
Alpina Comtesse Automatic (refs. AL-525APWD3CD3B and AL-525APW3CD6B) wristwatch specification
Price: $950 – $2500
Movement: Automatic, Sellita SW200, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 26
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 38 hours
Movement decoration: No data
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Case material: Stainless steel / Steel with gold-plated bezel
Bezel material: Steel / Gold-plated / 48 diamonds (refs. AL-525APWD3CD3B and AL-525APW3CD6B)
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 34.00 mm
Case height: No data
Lug width: No data
Dial: White mother-of-pearl
Hour markers: Applied
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Two tone stainless steel bracelet with gold colour PVD coated central link / Grey leather strap with off-white stiches / stainless steel bracelet
Case back: Solid, engraved