When considering the relationship between luxury and value, points of view tend to disagree. This is because these two concepts are somewhat contradictory. In light of Tom Mulraney’s article about the real value of tourbillon watches, I find it suiting to take a closer look at a watch that claims to offer both luxury and value. It will also be very interesting to hear the insightful opinion of The Watch Lounge readers in regards to this watch, which is the Alpina Extreme Tourbillon Regulator Manufacture.
Alpina is very dedicated to providing the best possible value for the high quality and appeal of luxury products. Because of this, I believe that this underestimated, modern company still has a lot of growth ahead of it. Tourbillon timepieces, while very visible in the watch media, are still quite rare in terms of units produced. Most models presented by companies other then the established giants, are often limited to tiny lots.
In the case of the Extreme Tourbillon, for instance, only 18 of each variation will be produced. The precision required to manufacture the numerous components of the tourbillon cage is the source of both the rarity and prestige associated with this complication. A closer look at Alpina’s AL-980 calibre Tourbillon movement will put these components in evidence.
The AL-980 calibre is comprised of 188 parts. Its purpose is to offer accuracy, impressive Swiss manufacturing, and – of course – the complex tourbillon mechanism at a price lower then the competition’s. This proprietary mechanism is an extensively modified version of Alpina’s original manufacture calibre, the AL 950. It retains the AL-950′s automatic winding mechanics and the regulator hour configuration.
One of the main aspects of the new AL-980, is that is equipped with a silicium escapement wheel and lever. The advantages of this material are now well known by many watch enthusiasts. Its light weight creates less friction than traditional substances and allows for a more precise measurement of time. The viscosity of the escapement also allows it to run properly without lubrication, virtually eliminating the need for regular servicing. The tourbillon cage itself is made of 80 parts showing how intricate even a basic version of this complication can be.
The tourbillon is an impressive complication. It is easy to see why watches that are equipped with it, often exhibit it through the dial. This is so on the Extreme Tourbillon Regulator, who’s dial is “skeletonized” to showcase the mesmerizing combination of rotation and oscillation. The dial’s low contrast further highlights the individually numbered “tourb.” The markings on the multilevel dial are black and the applied steel hour markers and hands are darkened with the PVD process. The 48mm case is sporty and modern. It offers a relatively low profile and curved lugs, which are joined to a soft rubber strap for a comfortable fit. The black bezel is made of ceramic while the black case is made of titanium and coated with diamond like carbon (DLC). All Extreme Tourbillon regulators offer a peek at the ingenious movement via see-through, exhibition backs.
The Alpina Extreme Tourbillon Regulator represents a new category of tourbillon watches. These timepieces offer all the quality and precision expected of Swiss manufacturing with a price that reflects their actual value without the Tourbillon Club surcharge. The Extreme Tourbillon offers the simplest and most robust form of the “whirlwind” mechanism and packages it in a modern, sporty case.
Only 18 copies of each of the two versions will be manufactured reflecting the naturally limiting precision and time required to build them. With a price tag that hovers around the $50,000 mark, the AL-980BC5AE9 and AL-980BCT5AE9 Extreme Tourbillon Regulators represent the rare balance between luxury and value.
Have Alpina got it right? Tell us what you think below!