Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Review

By: Baird Brown

Christmas has come and gone but winter is still here in its grey and dull glory. Around this time of the year I always feel the need to purge my watch collection a bit or trade up a few cheap watches I don’t wear anymore for one I really want. Last year it was a Steinhart Racetimer that tickled my fancy. But as I looked over my collection this year, I felt that it was a bit microbrand heavy and I felt the need to add a brand name to it.

Being partial to divers, I started to weigh my options when I noticed a trend; all of the watches I found were members of the Swatch Group, and they all shared a lot in common. That really seemed to turn me off for some reason, but what do you do when you’re looking at watches in the 1K range? The Swatch Group has a stronghold on Swiss watches at those price points! However, with some patience and a little research, I was able to come across a name brand Swiss watch that wasn’t owned by Swatch. It’s owned by Citizen. This is the review of the Alpina Seastrong Diver 300!

Since 2002, Alpina has been owned by Frederique Constant who revitalized the Alpina brand after decades of mediocrity since the quartz crisis. Considering Frederique Constant pretty much only makes fine dress watches, it was only natural that the Alpina name become its brand for sport watches. Alpina’s advertising and marketing also reflected this with adverts taking place in the alps and all of their Brand Ambassadors being famous skiers. Even when you buy the watch, you become an “Alpinist,” according to the owner’s manual. Citizen purchased Frederique Constant in 2016 and continued this trend, driving home the “Alpinist” look and feel when they released the all new Alpina Seastrong at Baselworld in 2016 with a video showing the Diver, not in the water, but rather on the Alps encased in snow. But enough history, right?

When you look at the Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 on paper, you get numbers that make you think the watch is going to be a behemoth. Measurements are 44mm for the case and 49 lug-to-lug with a 22mm strap. Right now anyone with an aversion for watches over 39mm just closed their browser. Once you get the Alpina Seastrong in hand though things appear differently. This cushion cased watch isn’t as big as you think due to the short lug to lug measurement. Sitting next to a 42mm diver watch, they appear almost the same. The lugs also curve slightly to let the strap easily wrap around your wrist, making a big watch wear oh-so-comfortably.


 
 

The brushed and polished surfaces of the watch are extremely well done for this price point and while they feel a little blingy, the watch does not feel like a dress watch. The flat AR coated sapphire crystal appears almost invisible from straight on and is one of my favorite features on the Alpina Seastrong Diver 300. The strap on this model is a pliable and very comfortable rubber that has an almost carbon fiber pattern and enough holes to make you think it’s a rally strap. Strange choice for a diver, but after a week on the wrist you feel that it’s really well made and compliments the watch as a whole.

Alpina has resisted the current ceramic trend and has continued with an aluminum bezel. Offered in red, blue, or grey, the bezel comes with applied and lumed indices at every 5-minute mark. The Seastrong’s bezel and crown both share an Alpina staple in that neither of them seems to have very good grip. While it seems to give them their own little quirk that separates them from the competition, it doesn’t seem to translate into something that benefits you, the customer. The bezel edge is smooth other than some serration at every 10-minute location. While it’s not hard to turn, the 120 click bezel does slide in your fingers somewhat and would be nearly impossible to move if it became slightly jammed. The crown has no serration whatsoever. All you get here is a smooth edge with a rubber grip around the crown. It’s not hard to turn and it does deliver a nice pop when you unscrew it into winding position, but it’s not a crown you can just turn with your fingertips. This isn’t a new feature, and it’s one I can’t seem to understand.

I’ve read (and heard) that the dial of the Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 just seems to make the watch look like an expensive Seiko. Maybe.The flat black dial with applied indices does seem to draw up visions of a Seiko SKX, especially with the large, soft triangle at the top. It even has a raised chapter ring. The matte black dial looks great under that invisible crystal and personally I like a simple dial with a printed logo instead of one that has a lot going on. It tells the time. With that said, the dial contains no minute markers save for those on the chapter ring every five minutes. Big deal, some say, until you go to set the Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 after it’s been in a box all week and it’s 11:47 and not 11:50. Partially skeletonized sword hands and a signed second hand finish off the dial nicely. Guess what? That white, unlumed, second hand looks awfully familiar. Just pointing that out.

Powering the Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 is the 38hr, 28,800 bph caliber AL-525. Regardless of what you may have come across online, this is not an in-house movement. While Alpina does have some in-house movements, this isn’t one of them. This is a Sellita SW-200. The Seastrong forgoes the typical solid case back for an exhibition display type. In this case. I’d usually call the Sellita a regular old “Sarah, Plain and Tall,” (Editor’s Note: I had to Google this 0_o) but Alpina does something a little different here. Their signed rotor is black with a section removed, giving the rotor an almost swinging axe look. It’s cool to look at, even if it doesn’t do anything for the performance.

For all its flaws and SKX comparisons, the Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 actually looks and feels like its own, high quality watch. To me the combo of the cushion case and large round bezel makes it stand out against some of its Swatch competitors. For instance, the Hamilton Scuba, Tissot Seastar, and Mido Ocean Star all have a similar look and feel and they’re all powered by the same 80hr, 21,600 bph movement. They range in price from $775 to $1050. They’re all very “mid-sized” car to me. They’re not terrible, but they’re all safe enough to move a lot of units. That’s what I like about the Alpina. It’s not a terribly huge name, but it has a ton of rich history. Its quirks and looks set it apart in this group.

Alpinawatches.com prices the watch at $1395. That’s Longines Hydroconquest territory. Personally, I think the Alpina looks better and if you really hunt, you can find them over at Gnomon Watches for $999. That takes the sting out of it a little bit and you too can adventure as an “Alpinist.”


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