The 2015 Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Chronograph Big Date expands the brand’s line of affordable diving companions with yet another product. Featuring a reliable and accurate quartz mechanism packed into a visually attractive, nicely sculpted stainless steel body, the timepiece looks like a perfect “first real Swiss watch” choice for a young customer who still can’t afford to buy “a real thing” be it a member of the same collection powered by a more expensive mechanical movement or something of an entirely different league like, say, an Omega Seamaster or a Breitling Superocean.
A well-designed object deserves to be sold in great number. However, when it comes to luxury items, their production numbers are often artificially limited due to (often, prohibitively so) higher price tag compared to a product with similar functionality but designed to satisfy tastes of, um, common people. Luckily, the industrial revolution and capitalism awarded us with a thing called “price discrimination”, a concept that allows a brand to sell almost the same goods at different prices in different markets or market niches.
Get a good watch, replace a mechanical movement that powers it with a less fancy quartz mechanism, get the price halved and here you have a brand new product that will greatly increase your loyal customer base with a good chance that some of these new customers will later buy a more expensive product sold under the same brand. Brilliant! Car manufacturers and Apple do this all the time with an almost invariably great result: as long as the product is good, you get yourself thousands of customers who will follow you to eternity and beyond.
Frankly, I don’t pay much attention to the brand so I somehow missed that point in time when their Extreme Diver line was rebranded as Seastrong collection. The collection is divided into two parts with more expensive pieces being powered by self-winding mechanisms and more affordable ones getting not-so-fancy quartz calibers.
While most quartz-powered versions look like exact twins of their automatic-powered siblings, this new Seastrong Diver 300 Chronograph Big Date dwells in a market niche of its own. Perhaps, it has something to do with the “Big Date” part of its name: Alpina doesn’t have a respective mechanical movement that would allow for such a dial layout.
The rest, including the shape and size of its stainless steel case, as well as the styling of its broad hour and minute hands (and other elements of the dial) is virtually identical. Or, at least, I don’t see any serious differences here save for the shape of its applied hour markers.
The case still comes in the same 44 mm width that gives the timekeeper a sort of muscular presence. It also significantly limits the number of model’s loyal customers since, being as large as it is, the case may look massive (but not ridiculously so, which is a plus) on a normal wrist.
A good thing about the case is that it features an elaborate design although those preferring a minimalist approach to industrial design should, too, look in another place.
What worries me a bit is the shape of the setting crown that, despite a pair of guards, still is potentially exposed to shocks so using this piece as a real ‘beater’ would probably not be such a good idea. It is still a nice fashion accessory though.
As usual for the Swiss watchmaker, the watch is offered in several colors of its bezel: black (ref. AL-372LBG4V6), orange (ref. AL-372LBO4V6), Bordeaux (ref. AL-372LBBRG4V6), and darkish sort of blue (ref. AL-372LBN4V6). Plenty to choose from.
The movement that powers this device is officially called Caliber AL-372. Judging by its list of functions (those including a 1/10th of seconds chronograph with “add” and “split” functions) and the fact that it is built on 13 jewels and also sports a guaranteed power reserve of four years, I can safely assume that it is a rebranded Ronda 5040.B blank caliber. If I am correct, congratulations: you are about to purchase a timekeeper with a well-built, repairable mechanism that is as reliable as it is accurate.
Personal preferences aside, the dial is easy to read thanks to its high contrast black and white color scheme. The way the “frame” on the minute hands, as well as the small-seconds hand at 6 o’clock and the signature triangular counterweight on the chronograph seconds hand, are color-matched to the unidirectional rotating bezel give the Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Chronograph Big Date that healthy dose of class that you would rightfully expect from a timepiece that costs almost CHF 1000 (a bit less than $1100 at the current rate).
The hands, the hour markers, even the elements of the diving scale on the bezel are covered with a decent amount of Superluminova that is bright enough for the watch to be readable not only in total darkness (that would be easy) but also in places with competing sources of light, like, say, a movie theater.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Chronograph Big Date specification
Price: CHF 995
Movement: Quartz, Caliber AL-372 (base Ronda 5040.B?), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 13
Power reserve: 48 months
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, big date, 1/10th of seconds chronograph, ADD and SPLIT functions
Case and Bezel: Stainless steel
Crown: Rubber-molded steel
Bezel shape: Round
Size: 44.00 mm
Hour markers: Luminous, applied
Water resistance: 300 meters
Strap: Black genuine “Trieste” leather strap, water-resistant
Back: Solid, screw-in, engraved