It was not all that long ago (see here) that I fell pretty hard for the Alpina Alpiner 4. Â It was my first time going hands-on with the brand, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw there. Â Well, if you know me, you know I like GMT complications. Â Iâ€™ve been starting to focus in a little more closely on those watches lately, and I saw Alpina had a few in the mix. Â Put two and two together, and youâ€™ve got our review today of theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours.
Ostensibly, theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours is for the traveling businessman (given the 44mm diameter, I am guessing it will not grace the wrists of many women). Â How so? Â Well, itâ€™s that Business Hours part of the name, which shows up on the chapter ring as an interpretation of the iconic â€œPepsiâ€ bezel. Â With it, you get the red to indicate the normal working (banking?) hours (9 am – 5 pm), with grace time on either side in white, showing when people are actually going to be in the office. Â That leaves the blue to indicate when folks are, well, not at work.
This chapter ring is not moveable, nor can you adjust where those colors bands are hitting. Â While those may have been clever paths to go, this keeps things much simpler. Â If you are traveling around, you will just have that GMT hand set to the home time of your home and office, and you wonâ€™t risk trying to get a hold of someone in the middle of the night. Â Conversely, if you find yourself dealing more with an office on the other side of the globe, youâ€™d set that GMT hand to the foreign time.
What about someone like myself, who really does not travel much any more, and has a remote team but in the same time zone? Â Does a watch like theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours have a place? Â Perhaps not the â€œBusiness Hoursâ€ iteration, but a GMT, thereâ€™s nothing wrong with that. Â I personally like the complication (these days) as itâ€™s something slightly different than a simple three-hander, without making things overly complicated. Â How my love of the complication started, thatâ€™s different.
I was drawn to the GMT complication back before I had any sort of watch winder, and I found myself constantly needing to wind and reset watches. Â With a three-hander and date, I was always winding things around to figure out where â€œmidnightâ€ was in the movement, so Iâ€™d have an accurate date set. Â With the GMT hand, that became vastly simplified, as I could use it, at a basic level, as a 24-hour indicator. Â Easy peasy, and less manual manipulation of the crown and handset. Â Not particularly an issue for me these days, but itâ€™s where things started for me, and that extra hand really has stuck with me.
And, frankly, as far as complications go, the GMT hand is a relatively simple one. Â Itâ€™s just one additional hand, geared to turn at half the speed that the hour hand is going at. Â Thatâ€™s at a high level. Â For each watch, there can be variations on how that is all implemented. Â On theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours, the hour hand and GMT hand are set independently. Â In this case, the hour hand is set with the crown in the first position. Â Rotate it one way, the hour hand jumps in hour increments; rotating the other way gets you adjusting the date. Â As to the GMT hand, thatâ€™s set along with the minute hand (i.e., how you would expect an hour hand to work on a standard three-hander).
Of course, if those hands are moving around on a busy or otherwise illegible dial, then it wonâ€™t make a lick of difference as to how theyâ€™re set. Â That is not the case, thankfully, with theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours. Â The black sunray dial provides a deep background for the polished (and luminous) indices and hands to set against; even the GMT hand (with itâ€™s splash of red) is easy enough to pick out. Â Speaking of the dial, we mentioned the Pepsi-bezel inspiration on the chapter ring. Â You might also think of the four lines of text on the lower half of the dials coming from another brand, which it may (I didnâ€™t interview the designer). Â Fortunately, the text is small enough that itâ€™s not a significant distraction. Â There is one other larger influence as well, and that shows up on the case.
That particular detail would be the lugs of theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours. Â This â€œtwistedâ€ style is something we commonly see on Omega watches (and is something I had a good watch friend point out), and I have seen it used on some others (particularly, the Benarus Sea Snake). Â As with so many of these little details, you can cry â€œcopy cat!â€, or you can accept them for what they are – details that, because they have worked well and look well, show up Â across a variety of places. Â For the lugs in particular, I like the look, as it gives things a somewhat more streamlined look, and the alternating surface finishes are something I am always a fan of.
Ok, how about a detail that I have not seen on any other watch, that theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours has? Â Take another look at that date window – does anything seem different there? Â Go ahead, Iâ€™ll wait. Â You see, there is a magnifier there. Â On most watches, this takes the form of a cyclops that is glued onto the crystal. Â I know that is a particularly divisive feature (albeit one Iâ€™ve come to like given itâ€™s extreme practicality). Â Well, then, setting the magnifier directly onto the date window (yet below the main crystal) is a particularly clever solution, and one I certainly would not mind seeing popping up all over the place (see, thatâ€™s how these good ideas can start showing up across a variety of brands).
On the whole, while theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours does have some details that are reminiscent of other brands, I would say it is indeed itâ€™s own watch. Â Itâ€™s not paying homage to any one model in particular, it is cutting itâ€™s own path using maps from prior adventurers. Â Even how to classify it is sort of itâ€™s own thing, in my book. Â More often than not, we see GMT movements implemented into sport watches, which are then polished up a bit to make them fit into a dressier setting. Â Here, I would say theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours is going in the other direction. Â They started with what is very much a dress watch, and then by enlarging the dimensions a bit, putting the GMT in, and then including their â€œBig 4â€ features (anti-magnetic, anti-shock, water resistance, stainless steel) we end up with a dress watch that can hold up to some sportier activities.
Sure, you come to the same result – a somewhat sporty, a somewhat dressy watch – but where you start can make quite a bit of difference. Â Well, more realistically, it makes more of a difference in the mind of the buyer. Â Are you looking for a rough and tumble watch that can fit with the occasional suit? Â Then you want to start with the sport watch. Â If you find yourself more in the office (and wearing suits with frequency), then starting with a dress watch makes sense; adding in the sporting sensibilities then turns a watch like theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours into a very capable travel companion, ready for the board room or the beach, all in the same trip.
So, yes, I did enjoy my time spent with the 126gÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours. Â It is perhaps a touch larger than I might prefer for regular wear (both in diameter and thickness), but itâ€™s not like weâ€™re talking dive watch dimensions. Â Ok, yes, the diameter is like a dive watch, but with the small bezel and those twisted lugs, it wears smaller than the 44mm might suggest. Â And, yeah, it is going to look a good sight better with a suit (particularly if you are partial to French Cuffs, as I am) than your sportÂ watch-based GMTs. Â Yes, they work, but theÂ Alpina GMT 4 Business Hour ups the game. Â If youâ€™re on the hunt for a great travel (and everyday)Â watch, you certainly should consider the $1,995Â Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours. Â While I wonâ€™t advocate (yet) just owning a single watch, if thatâ€™s what youâ€™re going for, this is a watch that will work for just about anything you would want to throw at it. Â alpina-watches.com
- Brand & Model:Â Alpina GMT 4 Business Hours
- Price:Â $1,995
- Whoâ€™s it for?:Â You like GMT complications, and you like sport watches, but you want something dressier (and more affordable) than whatÂ some of the â€œregularâ€ recommendations might be
- Would I wear it?:Â Indeed I would. Â I donâ€™t know that it would supplant my favorite GMT from my personal collection, but this is a solid watch for a variety of scenarios
- What Iâ€™d change: Â As with my Alpina Alpiner 4 review (LINK), a thinner case would be welcomed
- The best thing about it:Â The best small detail is that â€œhiddenâ€ cyclops on the date window. Â The best overall detail is how Alpina managed to take a dress watch design and embiggen things to create a capable sport watch, while still retaining the dress watch looks
- Caliber: Â AL-550
- Jewels: Â 26
- Winding: Â Automatic
- Power Reserve: Â 38 h
- Theme: Â Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Date, Compass turning bezel
- Case features
- Materials: Â Stainless Steel
- Crystal: Â Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with antireflective treatment
- Dial: Â Black sunray dial with applied luminous indexes
- Crown: Â Screw-in
- Water resistance: Â 10 ATM
- Diameter: Â 44 mm
- Strap or Bracelet Width: Â 22/18 mm
- Strap: Â Genuine leather