Alpina AlpinerX Hands-on Review

Alpina’s AlpinerX is so good, other hybrid smartwatches should be running scared

Alpina’s AlpinerX is the pinnacle of current hybrid smartwatch design and usability.
Alpina’s AlpinerX is the pinnacle of current hybrid smartwatch design and usability.
Alpina’s AlpinerX is the pinnacle of current hybrid smartwatch design and usability.

Highs

  • Great, sporty design
  • High-quality build and materials
  • Screen makes viewing notifications easy
  • No charging needed
  • App is excellent

Lows

  • Expensive

Could the Alpina AlpinerX be the ultimate hybrid smartwatch? Alpina is a Swiss watch brand with real heritage, making timepieces since 1883, and it’s particularly well-known for sports-orientated watches. The AlpinerX is a mix of classic Alpina design and modern connected technology, which makes it incredibly appealing. If Tag Heuer’s Connected Modular 41 and Connected Modular 45 are the perfect examples of Swiss engineering and touchscreen technology, then the Alpina AlpinerX brings the same cache and appeal to the hybrid space.

Distinctive mechanical feel

Before diving into the connected features, let’s jump into the AlpinerX’s design. Our review version came with a 45mm black stainless steel and glass fiber body, with a slightly convex sapphire glass over the top of the dial, and a bi-directional bezel showing compass points and degrees in white. This is repeated on the dial, where luminous orange hands — which recall the instrument panels inside an aircraft — offer considerable visual flair.

At the base of the dial is a sizeable digital screen, and it’s where you’ll see all the connected features. This makes the AlpinerX very different from other hybrid smartwatches, as they tend not to have digital screens, but it’s a subtle and well-implemented bridge between simpler hybrids and full-on digital touchscreen smartwatches.

The strap is made from thick rubber and comes in black, with Alpina and Geneve written across it; but also comes in orange with a black body watch. Alpina will also produce a blue watch with a blue strap. The buckle has a fold-over design, etched with the Alpina logo. After a week on our wrist, we found the AlpinerX to be immensely comfortable, never getting overly sweaty, and due to how lightweight the watch is, it was never bothersome.

This is a seriously comfortable watch to wear. It’s also a beauty. We wore it with smart and casual clothing, and it looked great with all our outfits. It’s not too big, it’s also not overly thick, and the buttons are large and easy to locate and press. On the final version, the rear will be engraved, but it’s blank on our review model.

The AlpinerX is very comfortable, not too big, and never gets overly sweaty.

We loved the mechanical feel of the AlpinerX, particularly the sound the hands make when advancing through time. There’s no second hand tickling away, but as the minute hand moves, it’s accompanied by a very distinct, gear-driven “tick” that is so physical, the watch feels much more alive than any other hybrid watch we’ve worn. It may sound strange, but we warmed up to the AlpinerX more because of it. You just don’t get that level of appeal with a digital watch, smart or otherwise.

The choice of true Swiss-connected smartwatches is small, but when one as impressive as the Alpina AlpinerX is available, you’re unlikely to feel shortchanged.

Connected features and screen

Interestingly, the AlpinerX elevates itself slightly beyond the usual hybrid smartwatch standard by incorporating a small display, rather than solely relying on vibrations to alert you of incoming notifications.

The screen shows abbreviated text of the app that’s attracting your attention. For example, Facebook shows up as FAC, along with a number representing the amount of messages waiting for you, emails are EML, WhatsApp is WHA, and so on. A glance is all that’s needed to identify the alert, and pressing the upper and lower buttons moves through multiple notifications.

Alpina AlpinerX Hands-on Review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Our review model only showed these visual alerts, and didn’t vibrate. We spoke to Alpina about this, and were informed the final models will have a vibration alert. Since it wasn’t operational on our watch, we can’t comment on its effectiveness.

Through an app on your phone you can see activity and sleep data, but you can’t see this information on the digital display on the watch.

If the screen strangely doesn’t show fitness and activity, what else does it offer outside of notifications? This is an outdoors watch, which means it comes with a barometer, a compass, an altimeter, temperature sensor, and unusually, a UV indicator. Data from all these sensors is shown on the watch’s main screen, and you can scroll through them using the crown. It’s all also accessible in the app. The screen is easily readable in daylight, without being too bright, and is genuinely informative.

All the benefits of a full smartwatch, without the drawbacks.

We like the way the screen illuminates with a quick press of the crown, how it shows a customizable world time, and how it automatically moves the hands out of the way when there’s information on the screen. The screen also blends in with the overall watch design, looking less like a cobbled together attempt to mimic a smartwatch, and more like Casio’s cohesively-designed hybrid analog and digital displays used on its G Shock range.

Even though there is a screen on the watch, it doesn’t require charging, meaning the screen offers many benefits of a full smartwatch, without the drawbacks. Who can argue with that?

Like the design, the AlpinerX operates in an ultra-polished fashion, and it’s clear the whole project has been properly thought out.

AlpinaX app

The Alpina app is yet another win for the AlpinerX. All the data is shown in an attractive, easy-to-read manner. It’s fast to react, the settings are simple to change, and the notifications can be tailored to your liking.

If you only want email notifications, for example, you can turn everything else off. We connected the watch to our iPhone X using a beta version of the app, and the process was flawless. Final versions of smartwatch apps are often poor, so to find a polished, reliable, and informative app that’s still in beta was pleasing.

There are some missteps, though. The dynamic coach feature sounds grander than it is, and it appears to only provide long-term activity data. It’s also joined by some basic advice on making improvements to your activity levels, sleep, and eating habits. It’s not tailored for you specifically, which isn’t a problem unique to the AlpinerX, but a downside with most fitness trackers and smartwatches.

Also, the most prominent button in the app takes you to the Alpina website. It’s pointless promotion, and spoils the app’s neat design and general focus on user experience.

Price and availability

Alpina has decided to launch the AlpinerX on Kickstarter, where it will be sold for $450 in an early bird offer, before jumping to $895 after the campaign ends. At the time of writing, we’re not aware of any benefits or rewards outside of the lower price for backers.

This is a real Swiss hybrid smartwatch, and you shouldn’t expect a low price. In terms of value, $450 is reasonable for a watch of this quality, with sapphire glass, Swiss heritage, and a very comprehensive feature set. What’s more, it works really well, and the app is excellent.

It’s absolutely worth the price on the Kickstarter campaign. It’ll be down to the depth of your pockets if you want to buy one outside of the campaign. Any watch closing in on $1,000 has a lot of competition, both in the smart and the traditional world.

Conclusion

Alpina’s continued commitment to build desirable hybrid smartwatches is excellent news. The AlpinerX deserves to be a success. It’s everything we want from such a device — great style, considerable functionality, flexibility, desirability, and a degree of exclusivity due to the higher than average price.

It’s a Swiss hybrid smartwatch that even staunch traditional watch fans will appreciate. We’re leaving our final verdict until we try a fully-operational model; but the Alpina AlpinerX hasn’t disappointed during our week with it.

Wearables

The Tacs Nato-Lens is a watch for those who live life through a camera lens

Not all watches have to be round, or connect to your phone. The Tacs Nato-Lens is a stylish piece of wristwear with a design inspired by classic SLR cameras, making it a geeky timepiece for the camera and watch fan.
Wearables

Alpina makes its AlpinerX smartwatch even more attractive with new colors

Alpina has introduced four new colors to its AlpinerX smartwatch range, breaking the usually sporty watch out into a more everyday casual design, and given the tech a slight makeover too.
Wearables

Fossil made a smartwatch in 2004, and it’s part of a new brand retrospective

Fossil has been making watches for 35 years, and to celebrate the anniversary, it has a new retrospective exhibit complete with the first smartwatch it made — the Wrist Net watch from 2004.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Wearables

Fossil is working on a smartwatch with BMW, and it’s coming next year

Fossil, the watch company that makes smartwatches under its own name and partners with other major brands too, intends to launch a smartwatch with car manufacturer BMW in the future.
Mobile

Diesel’s denim-inspired smartwatch straps are a casual, colorful must-own

Diesel will release two new versions of the On Full Guard 2.5 smartwatch later this year, with seriously cool, denim-inspired straps in classic Diesel colors. We tried them on at the Baselworld 2019 show.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Wearables

Tips and tricks to get you started with your new Fitbit Inspire HR

The Inspire HR may be an entry-level fitness tracker in Fitbit's lineup, but the device still has plenty of features to explore. These are our favorite tips and tricks to help you use the Inspire HR to its fullest potential.
Deals

REI drops deals on Garmin Fenix 5 and Vivoactive 3 smartwatches

Garmin's activity trackers offer a lot of advantages for health-conscious individuals and outdoor adventurers, and with spring finally here, now’s a fine time to jump on the smartwatch bandwagon. REI’s Garmin sale is the perfect chance…
Mobile

New gold finish makes Frederique Constant’s hybrid smartwatch flashier than ever

Frederique Constant has found considerable success with its luxury hybrid smartwatch, the Hybrid Manufacture, and has launched several new color schemes to help bring it even more attention.
Wearables

Like a car, this watch has dampers on the strap to make it more comfortable

Like a car, this stunning luxury watch has shock absorbing dampers that attach the strap to the case, rather than a more traditional system, to increase comfort. We've worn one, and it really seems to work.
Wearables

Tag Heuer’s Golf Edition smartwatch is a lot more than just a flash of new color

Tag Heuer's Golf Edition Connected Modular 45 smartwatch has a lot more going for it than just a flashy new color scheme. From the titanium body and black PVD coating to the new Golf app, this is a true special edition.
Product Review

Fitbit’s Inspire HR fitness tracker nails the basics and keeps the price low

Fitbit targets the new user with the Inspire HR, a low-cost, lightweight fitness tracker that covers all the basics. I put the device through its paces. It not only lived up to our expectations for an entry-level tracker, but sometimes…
Wearables

This $76,000 Grand Seiko watch has something in common with a plug-in hybrid car

How can a watch that costs $76,000 possibly have anything in a common with any car, let alone a plug-in hybrid? It's all about the complex, technically incredible Spring Drive movement inside this Grand Seiko watch.