|Founded||1883 by Gottlieb Hauser|
Alpina Watches International SA is a manufacturer of luxury wrist watches based in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1883 by Gottlieb Hauser, a watchmaker in Winterthur who founded the Swiss Watchmakers Corporation ("Union Horlogère Suisse"). It is currently owned by Frederique Constant SA.
A number of watchmakers joined together as the Union Horlogère Suisse to purchase watch components and organize their manufacturing. All representatives of Union Horlogère depended on the Association, which aimed to sell high quality watches under the Alpina brand. Quickly, the new concept gained acceptance. Together with qualified manufactures, the Association started to develop its own calibres and to enlarge its distribution network.
In 1912, the first Alpina Chronometer Glashütte was finalized and this model competed directly against the watch making artistry of the likes of A. Lange & Sohne who even went so far as to take Alpina to court – unsuccessfully.
The company generally managed its business well until the 1970s, when quartz watch movements emerged and had a severe effect on the entire Swiss watch industry. Alpina was unable to counter the emergence of electronic watches. Other major brands got together to form groups (predecessor of the Swatch Group), but Alpina tried to fight it alone without really succeeding. In 1972, Alpina Watch International SA was incorporated with new German investors, which purchased all shares in Alpina Union Horlogère SA.
Alpina was a respected maker that fell victim to the quartz crisis of the 80s, forced to shut its doors due to lack of demand in the face of less expensive, more precise timepieces. In 2002, Alpina Watch International SA was acquired by Frédérique Constant SA, and Alpina watches were relaunched worldwide.
Named "Régulateur 1883" in reference to the year Alpina was founded, Alpina introduced a new model in 2005. The "regulator" dial is distinguished by having an off-centred hour display at 10 o'clock – an exclusive Alpina feature.
Alpina first introduced its "4" line of sports watches in 1938, bringing together four themes: anti-magnetism, anti-shock, water resistance, and stainless-steel construction. The Alpina 4 was one of the very first Swiss sports watches to appear, helping to set the tone for following generations. In 2014, Alpina brought this concept back with the introduction of the new Alpiner 4 watches, available in both GMT and chronograph models. The new watches cover all four of the original requirements first set forth in 1938.
1883 Gottlieb Hauser founds the 'Alpina Union Horlogère S.A. (UH) / Schweizerische Uhrmacher-Genossenschaft (SUG)' ('Corporation of Swiss Watchmakers'). His vision was the 'Alpinist Principle': uniting Swiss watchmaking industry forces to achieve the highest quality and technical innovation in manufacturing, at the most favourable conditions. Soon the Union was making its own calibers.
1890 The Union moves its headquarters to Biel/Bienne where Jacob Straub, an important member, had his caliber manufactory (J. Straub & Co). The ébauches at that time were made by the Alpina Ebauches factory, owned by Duret & Colonnaz, in Geneva.
1900 The Alpina Union Horlogère participates to the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris and displays its calibers and creations to a cosmopolitan and distinguished public.
1901 The mark 'Alpina' is registered by Jacob Straub to protect his 12 and 19 line calibers, unmarked until then. Being J. Straub & Co. its main caliber supplier, almost all high-end watches of the Union now carry the famous triangular 'Alpina' mark on their movements. Alpina, as a standalone name, was therefore first used as a protection and quality mark for exceptional movements.
1903 Gottlieb Hauser and his son go on an adventurous mission to Russia to establish a foothold in the empire of the Tsars. They succeed: at the end of their 50 successive day’s trip, their ledgers are filled with the names of surprisingly many new customers, including some famous ones. In1955, Gottlieb Hauser Jr. wrote an account of this voyage: From Bienne to Astrakhan: "The Adventures of a Swiss Watch Representative in Russia Fifty Years Ago".
1908 On occasion of its 25th anniversary the Union registers the 'Alpina' brand name for timepieces. For prestige reason the Union members, the 'Alpinists', agreed to use the brand 'Alpina' only for watches that encased selected high-quality calibers, amongst them those with Breguet hairsprings and compensating balances. As was 'de rigueur' in this epoch, a strong name also needed a distinctive symbol; the legendary Alpina red triangle emblem, the 'Alpiner', was born.
1909 The Alpina Union Horlogère expands its watch manufacturing to Germany and founds the Präcisions-Uhrenfabrik Alpina Glashütte i/S in Glashütte. The Union`s factories were by now located in Geneva, Biel, Besançon (F) and Glashütte, the four world capitals of watchmaking.
1910 The Alpina Union Horlogère creates a perpetual calendar pocket watch complication. A significant technical challenge for that epoch.
1913 The German Navy (K.M.) purchases Alpina Chronometers. An Alpina 21-lines Glashütte Chronometer, equipped with an Alpina chronometer ebauche with Glashütte escapement, instead of the typical Swiss anchor escapement, was adopted as standard K.M. equipment to cover its need for high precision time instruments.
1915 The Alpina Union Horlogère wins a gold medal at the Swiss National Exhibition.
1920 An unprecedented continuation of the success story began at the end of the First World War. About 2,000 dealers throughout Europe sold Alpina watches. Alpina watches could be purchased in Lisbon, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London, Stockholm and as far as Santiago de Chile.
1921 Alpina becomes a renowned producer and supplier of time instruments for military pilots.
1926 Alpina establishes an international watch guarantee. The guarantee was first introduced for Switzerland in 1908 and in 1926 became valid throughout the world. Alpina's comprehensive international guarantee system, the first of its kind, confirmed the internationality and marketing savvy of the Brand, as well as the high quality and reliability of Alpina watches.
1929 Alpina and American company Gruen enter into a joint venture with the purpose of getting access to their respective distribution networks and production facilities. The partnership gave birth to the Alpina 'Tecno', encasing the famous 877 caliber. The 'Tecno' advertising brochure used the following words: 'The new 'Tecno' chronometer wristwatch boasts a trailblazing movement and shows the exact time in seconds: for physicians, engineers, technicians, transit officials, merchants and athletes.
1933 Alpina presents its first sports watch, the 'Block Uhr'. It sported a sturdy all steel case and a patented a new type of crown (Brevet 1464). The innovation consisted of a very close-fitting connection between the crown and the winding stem to prevent dust from penetrating. Moreover, the crown could not be torn out or lost. In 1938 the 'Alpina 4' evolved from this first sport watch due to rapid technical progress.
1938 Alpina introduces the legendary 'Alpina 4'. The number '4' alluded to the four essential qualities of a sports watch: 1/ Antimagnetic, 2/ Water-resistant, 3/ Anti-shock and 4/ A stainless steel highly robust case. The Alpina '4' philosophy revolutionised the sports watch, and the robust-to-the-extreme 'Alpina 4' became the watch of choiche for sport and professional activities in unnatural, and potentially dangerous, environments for Man: the mountain, the air and the sea. The Alpina '4' was equipped with one of the sturdiest watch 'engines' of its generation, the hand-wound Alpina 592 calibre.
1945 Alpina manufactures its first automatic movement. The 12½-ligne, 5.5-mm-tall, self-winding caliber 582, also known as the 'P82', had a sub dial for the seconds at 6 o’clock and a power reserve of 40h.
1948 The school of watchmaking at the cantonal polytechnic in Biel chooses the 12-lines hand-wound Alpina caliber 592 to serve as the school’s didactic caliber. This choice underscores the fact that this movement was especially precise, reliable and robust.
1953 Alpina celebrates its 70th anniversary with the introduction of the 'Alpina 70' sport watch, encasing the 592 and 598 calibers. The 'Alpina 70' boasted the 4 Alpina sport features (anti-shock, anti-magnetic, water resistant, stainless-steel case), and a beautiful faceted golden 'Alpiner' adorned its dial.
1957 The Alpina President is revealed. The President is the company’s first Sports Automatic; using the 584 'Hammerautomatik' 17 jewels self-winding Caliber.
1959 Alpina introduces the 'Alpina 4' Chronograph. The dial featured a telemeter and a units-meter, making it ideal for sports and industrial applications.
1963 Alpina realises an automatic movement for women, the caliber 362 (6½ lines); the smallest and strongest yet made. It worked with a rotor system, turning in both ways. In the same year Alpina also presents the 'Comtesse' ladies line.
1968 Launch of the Alpina 'Tropic-Proof'. This elegant sport watch with a 'Qualité Geneve' case featured the 4 Alpina sport characteristics: 1/ anti-shock, 2/ anti-magnetic, 3/ water resistant, 4/ stainless steel case. At the time the 'Tropic Proof' was advertised as the 'Gran Tourisme' of the sport watches.
1969 Launch of the Alpina Diver '10 Seastrong'. This professional diving watch was moved by a17 jewel Automatic self-winding caliber. The '10 Seastrong' featured 2 crowns, one of which was used to determine the decompression time through a 1-60 min. rotating bezel. The 'Seastrong' was water resistant to 200m and anti-magnetic.
1970 Alpina launches the 'Dispomatic' Automatic Alarm encasing a modified 19 Jewels 2980 Lemania caliber with 21600 A/h. Despite the growing demand for quartz watches in this period, mechanical watches remained Alpina’s vocation.
1982-2002 The Quartz Crisis strongly hits European and American mechanical watchmakers, including Alpina; Alpina suffers but remains an independent company. After the devastating effects of the Quartz Wave, Alpina misses the renaissance of mechanical watches, which began in the mid 1980s, perhaps because the new German owners were too far removed from the Swiss epicenter. For years the brand drifted without a clear direction. Fortunately, at the eleventh hour, when Alpina seemed inexorably on its way toward the watchmaking archives, Dutch entrepreneur Peter Stas came onto the scene and discovered the Swiss tradition sport watch brand and its significant horological history and legacy.
2002 Alpina is bought by Aletta and Peter Stas, the owners of Frédérique Constant. Identifying with the 'Alpinist principle', they set out to further the Swiss sport watch manufacturing vision of Gottlieb Hauser.
2003 Alpina presents its first collection of mechanical sports watches under the new ownership at the BaselWorld international watch fair.
2005 Introduction of the AL-650 regulator hand-wound movement based on the famous Unitas Ebauche, which was originally a caliber for pocket watches. Launch of the professional Alpina 'Extreme Diver', water resistant to 1.000 m (3.280 ft). The 'Extreme Diver' features a helium escape valve and, uncommon for watches going to these extreme depths, a transparent sapphire crystal case back.
2006 Alpina celebrates its 123rd anniversary by moving into its new watch manufactory in Plan-Les-Ouates, Geneva. At the same time it presents the Alpina 'Avalanche Extreme', putting the Brand back on the map for watches that are made for extremely challenging sports environments. Alpina presents its Automatic Regulator caliber AL-950. The caliber was entirely developed in-house by Alpina engineers; the parts machined on its CNC machines and assembled by a team of skilled and dedicated watchmaker’s at the Alpina Manufactory. The AL-950 equips the Startimer Pilot Regulator Manufacture and the Avalanche Extreme Regulator.
2009 Alpina unveils its 'Extreme Tourbillion' encasing the fully in-house developed and produced AL-980 Tourbillon manufacture caliber: the first Tourbillon movement ever produced by Alpina in its centenary history. The AL-980 incorporates two major new technologies: a Silicon escapement wheel and anchor give the caliber faultless accuracy, even under extreme conditions, because no oil is needed to lubricate the escapement mechanism. The S.M.A.R.T. Weight Balancing System, (patent pending), enables further improvement to the movement’s precision. Alpina becomes the Official Timekeeper of the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race in Sebring, Florida.
2011 Alpina reveals its Extreme Sailing 'Yacht Timer' containing the new AL-880 movement. Based on the SW500 chronograph, Alpina designed a specific mechanical module to time the 5 and 10-minute countdown to the departure line of the Regatta. In case of an interruption of the departure, the AL-880 movement gives the possibility to hold the countdown, and then release it again. Alpina's AL-710 small date automatic manufacture caliber of is launched. An evolution of the first Manufacture Caliber of Alpina since its re-launch, the AL-710 adds a central second to this automatic movement.
2012 Alpina presents the Startimer Pilot 'Worldtimer Manufacture', encasing the fully in-house developed and manufactured AL-718 automatic World Time caliber. The AL-718 is based on the AL-710 Manufacture Caliber and features a 24 time zone indication, night/day indicator and a small date at 6 o'clock. It is extremely easy to use: the single crown operates all its functions.
2013 Alpina celebrates its 130th watchmaking anniversary with the "Alpina 130", a pilot chronograph inspired by a 1930's Alpina pilot chronograph, featuring both a telemeter and tachymeter on the dial.
2014 76 years after having introduced the concept of the modern sports watch with the Alpina 4 in 1938, Alpina comes back with the concept of '4' in its Alpiner collection. The Alpiner '4' is a professional Alpine watch featuring the 4 sports properties 1) Antimagnetic, 2) Antishock, 3) Water-resistant, and 4) Stainless steel case.
In 2012, Alpina announced that actor and television star William “Billy” Baldwin has come on board as the ambassador for the brand’s Alpina Diver watch.
Borge Ousland & Vincent Colliard
Raising awareness of the importance of preserving the glaciers, Alpina supports polar explorers Borge Ousland & Vincent Colliard in their IceLegacy mission to cross the 20 largest glaciers in the world.
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- "William Baldwin Shares His Thoughts On Time And Alpina Watches". Retrieved June 27, 2014.
- "Aurélien Ducroz Freeride World Champion and Alpina watches Ambassador". Retrieved June 27, 2014.
- "Aurélien Ducroz 2009 & 2011 Freeride world champion - Alpina Ambassador". Retrieved June 27, 2014.
- "IceLegacy : Alpina s’engage aux côtés de Borge Ousland et Vincent Colliard". Retrieved June 27, 2014.
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