The Alpina Heritage Pilot is a large, classic aviation style watch, which replicates Alpina’s own 1926 pilot watch. It is a limited edition of 1883 pieces, 1883 being the year the Alpina brand was created. But let’s not concentrate on the past, and let’s talk about the present and this beautiful new Alpina Pilot.
There is no doubt that Alpina has created a stand out model with the Heritage Pilot. It combines classic pilot watch elements using modern materials and movements. The case is well machined and wonderfully finished, and this dial variant gives it that military/air force feel. The old radium colored hands and markers work well with the dial and when combined with the leather strap and buckle, it gives the watch that needed vintage flair. The sapphire crystal is super clear with no distortion or cloudiness, which is what you should expect from a watch at this price point. Of course the main highlight is the hinged case back and viewable mechanical movement. This is definitely the type of watch you want to take off and show to your friends and colleagues. Whether they appreciate it as much as you do, well, who knows, but you will have fun showing it off.
As usual, Alpina does a great job with their presentation case. The Heritage Pilot comes in a luxurious black lacquered wood oversized watch box with aluminum trim. Inside, it is well constructed with the watch sitting nicely on a velvet like pillow.
When you remove the watch from its pillow is when you will really notice the large size of the watch. 50mm’s wide in fact, and that’s without the crown. With the crown it measures in at 54mm. There is no denying it is an oversized watch, but that was Alpina’s intention. As wide as it may be, it is pretty thin at 11mm, and has a lug to lug (vertical length of the watch) of 57mm.
The dial is a matte black finish, and has “old radium” filled sword style hands, numerals and markers. That is how Alpina refers to the lume color numerals and markers, but most people these days probably know it just as vintage lume. The color is a light tan, but actually glows a bright green, which you will see in the lume shots.
The dial uses Arabic numerals for both regular and the 24 hour time scale, and has a 60 second register between the 5 and 7 o’clock positions. This version has the Alpina name in the 24 hour circle, while the Alpina triangle logo is used in place of the 12 o’clock marker. Minute hash marks with numerals at 5 minute intervals surround the chapter ring, while an AR coated sapphire crystal covers it all and allows you to see the dial very clearly.
The 316L brushed and polished stainless steel case reminds you of a pocket watch with lugs, which is quite interesting because the Al-435 caliber mechanical movement that runs the Hertage Pilot was originally developed for pocket watches. On the supplied leather strap, the watch weighs in at 111 grams.
The case, as I said, combines both brushed and high polished finishes. The top outer case and lugs are satin brushed with a polished fixed bezel ring. The sides and back of the case are all high polished. The diamond like shape crown is reminiscent of crowns we are used to seeing on most pilot style watches, but is much smaller than most. I appreciate this, as I have always found the oversized diamond crowns to be somewhat of an eyesore and uncomfortable as they usually dig into the wrist.
The most intriguing aspect of this case is its hinged case back. Again, reminiscent of pocket watches that had a hinged cover for the dial. When you depress the button on the lower right side of the case, the metal case back cover will pop open, and you can lift it up to reveal the beautiful AL-435 Caliber mechanical movement. The AL-435 is not one of Alpina’s in-house movements, but it is a re-worked Unitas based movement that Alpina has modified, decorated and assembled. Not only is the movement beautiful to look at, but it winds very smoothly and has a power reserve of 46 hours. The hinged case back is different and unique, but it also serves to protect the sapphire case back.