Looking at our stats, I see that demand for recommendations regarding diving watches is a seasonal thing with most visitors coming in summer and then gradually declining till Christmas only to start growing again in early January. “Pilots” are different animals: I have an impression that people are always interested in “aviators” regardless of the time of the season. So, for your reading pleasure, a choice of fifteen timekeepers from under $200 to more than $10,000 as priced by online retailers that I find worthy of being considered while shopping for your new (or maybe your very first!) pilot’s watch this year.
The 2016 Alpina Startimer Pilot chronograph (refs. AL-725B4S6, AL-725GR4S6 & AL-725N4S6) is available in three colors of its laconic, extremely sober dial and two colors of the genuine (*sigh*) leather strap. It is a bit expensive, many people may (and probably will) call it boring, and it is not a match to majors like IWC and Omega in terms of mojo and perceived value, yet the combination of a highly ergonomic design, reliable mechanism, and an acceptable price make it a nice everyday watch for a person who can afford one.
The 2016 Alpina Seastrong Diver Heritage (refs. AL-525S4H6 & AL-525G4H6) collection is a reference to the brand’s “days of independence.” Back in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, the company introduced one beautiful model after another. Although I can’t call it a real “homage” (and I like that it is not,) this new pair of timepieces does a good job at recreating the spirit of the days long gone. Perhaps, the only thing that somehow devalues these gorgeous retro-styled models -besides the fact that, differing so much from other members of the Seastrong family, it needed to become a foundation of a completely new collection- is the simple mass-produced mechanism: each of these beauties just screams for a hand-wound NOS job!
Presented in two colors of its laconic, easy to read dial, Alpina Alpiner Manufacture makes the time-proven Caliber AL-710 in-house automatic movement its selling point. The “Manufacture” mechanism slowly replaces third-party mechanisms from their relatively inexpensive lines. Accurate and reliable, the AL-710 greatly increases the timekeeper’s collectability while still making it a nice daily wearer
The 2015 Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Chronograph Big Date is yet another “affordable” diving companions. The reliable and accurate quartz mechanism packed into a visually attractive, nicely sculpted stainless steel body, making the timepiece a perfect “first real Swiss watch” for a young customer who still can’t afford to buy “a real thing” that costs 10 times more.
The Alpina Alpiner 4 Manufacture Flyback Chronograph (ref. AL-760SB5AQ6) is not just another handsome wristwatch from just another second-tier brand. Besides featuring a distinct and interesting exterior, it is also one of the few relatively affordable chronographs powered by an in-house caliber. Developed by the brand’s parent company Frederique Constant, it sports an unusual design feature: instead of the tried and true cam-and-lever or a more precise column-wheel, its chronograph module has a star-shaped gear that makes it easier to produce on an industrial scale without sacrificing much in the precision department.