Spotlight on Alpina

Alpina is an old European watch name seeking a new lease on life in the 21st century.

It began in 1883, with a group of Swiss watchmakers whose calibers were made by the Alpina ebauche factory. “Alpina” was registered as a high-end watch brand in 1901 and produced in Switzerland, France, and Germany before World War I. Alpina later merged briefly with the U.S. brand Gruen and in the 1930s began producing the sport watches for which it became famous.

The quartz watch revolution of the 1970s and watch industry mergers in the next 20 years affected Alpina, which stayed focused on mechanical watches. By the late 1990s, it was being sold by only a few German retailers. Peter Stas, owner of Swiss luxury brand Frédérique Constant, bought Alpina in 2000 to revive and expand it.

Alpina is now based in Geneva, Switzerland, and sold through high-end jewelers and watch stores in the United States, Germany, France, Holland, Switzerland, Japan, and Australia. Its watches retail for $1,495-$4,495. Two collections of mechanical multifunction sports watches debuted in 2002. “Heritage,” featuring large cases and 1930s-inspired dials, looks back at Alpina’s history. “Startimer” (shown) looks forward with more modern styling. Features include a 42-mm case and two internal rotating bezels.

A third new collection of men’s and women’s quartz watches—the first in Alpina’s history—debuted this year. The line, called “Avalanche,” retails for under $1,000 and is designed to widen Alpina’s market.

Distributed in the United States by International Time Group, Alpina aims for a U.S. network of 150 to 200 retail outlets in three years and is in negotiations to be a sponsor of the U.S. Bobsled Association. ITG LLC, 7700 Congress Ave., Boca Raton, FL 33487; (561) 241-3509.