It’s late June in the quiet mountain town of Zermatt. A bustling ski resort in winter, summer is a relatively quiet time up here, with only hikers and mountain bikers making the pilgrimage to the Matterhorn’s unofficial base camp. Fittingly, it’s this alpine backdrop that Alpina has selected to celebrate its 140th anniversary, and it wouldn’t be a proper celebration without at least one new release. To mark the occasion, Alpina decided to look back to some of its accomplishments in the early 20th century and release two new watches, both named Alpina Heritage Carrée Mechanical 140 Years.

Not everything about these two new timepieces is new. The movements used inside are a young 85 years old. Well, they’re young compared to the brand itself, one with an influential history in its initial manifestation as Union Horlogère and as an institution representing many important brands of the past across France, Switzerland, and Germany. At Fratello, we’re no strangers to Alpina’s heritage. Primarily, my colleague Tomas has written several pieces highlighting models from the brand’s past. Some of these have made a well-deserved comeback already. What we see today, however, is a different approach. Taking new-old-stock movements, restoring them, and placing them inside a newly designed case is not something the brand has done before. Let’s have a look at these two latest releases from Apina inside and out.

Alpina Heritage Carrée Mechanical 140 Years

140 years young

There are not many brands that can brag as long as a history as Alpina. Like other brands heading for their second century, Alpina has changed hands, been reinvented, and even laid dormant for a time. But it’s a joy to see the brand continuing to do that which has built its legacy this far. A long history means that a brand’s long-standing tradition in watchmaking has been firmly rooted. It also means that, more often than not, there’s an attic, a basement, or (in this case) the workshop of a former retailer with plenty of interesting artifacts from the past. Last year, we saw Zenith release a limited run of watches using the award-winning chronometer Calibre 135. Today, Alpina takes a similar approach, celebrating its 140th anniversary with two watches that combine old and new.

The old is the brand’s caliber 490, a beautiful yet robust movement dating back to 1938. Produced by Union Horlogère (Alpina’s original entity), the brand can safely call it an in-house movement. Today, we are used to hearing the term, but once upon a time, this wasn’t a piece of watch-news boilerplate. Mind you, this caliber comes from a time when most brands relied on mass-produced base calibers purchased from Swiss manufacturers. Alpina’s caliber 490 was a trailblazing movement and helped inform some of the key aspects of contemporary watchmaking. It was one of the earliest to feature a patented dustproof crown construction, which eventually was developed further to provide water resistance. The caliber 490 provides a rare glance back to what Alpina calls its “golden age,” a wonderful homage to its heritage and an excellent way of marking its 140 years.

Alpina Heritage Carrée Mechanical 140 Years

The Alpina Heritage Carrée Mechanical 140 Years

The watch introduced by Alpina is available in two dial variants. The first (ref. AL-490BA3C10) features a matte black dial with a round seconds register at 6 o’clock. Its hands, markers, and minute track are all drawn in a sandy beige tone. The second (ref. AL-490SA3C10) has a matte silver dial. Its dual finishing creates a two-tone effect and adds plenty of depth. The seconds register here mirrors the square shape of the case, which follows the caliber 490’s rectangular shape. Both dials feature a period-correct scrolling Alpina logo at 12 o’clock and sans-serif numerals for the hours. The case itself draws inspiration from Art Deco designs of the ’30s and ’40s. It’s made of polished .925 sterling silver and measuring a wearable 29.5mm wide, 35.7mm long (excluding the lugs), and 9.71mm tall.

The case has a 3 ATM water resistance rating and uses an AR-coated domed sapphire crystal dial-side and a flat sapphire on the back. This transparent case back holds the silver’s hallmarks and displays the lovely hand-winding caliber 490. Despite its age, the movement has a respectable set of specs. It runs at 18,000vph — a rate typical of vintage pieces — and features 17 jewels and a 45-hour power reserve. Each of the three bridges is beveled and brushed, with the barrel cap displaying a lovely hand-brushed sunburst finish. In line with the brand’s core values even then, it’s as robust as it is beautiful. Alpina has done this venerable caliber justice and housed it in a case worthy of its beauty and significance. The watch is as understated as it is classy. Its light brown ostrich leather strap with contrast stitching is the final touch and an undeniably tasteful match.

Final thoughts

After seeing Alpina experiment in the distinctly modern design space occupied by models like the Alpiner Extreme, it’s good to see a return to something positively retro. It’s even better that it’s not a typical reissue but features an actual piece of the brand’s horological history inside. The vintage caliber 490 gives these two watches the chef’s kiss, making them well worthy of a 140th-anniversary celebration. But it also makes them rare creatures indeed. Both dial variants are limited to just 14 pieces. This attests to the rarity of the movements inside. The passing of time is celebrated, but it takes its toll. However, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that altogether when looking at the work Alpina has done with them.

I know what you’re going to ask: yes, the brand came into possession of more than just 28 movements (in fact, about twice as many). The others, however, are reserved for future servicing and replacement for the watches released today. So there’s no need to fret in terms of servicing and future availability of parts.

Both models of the Alpina Heritage Carrée Mechanical 140 Years are priced at €4,995. Compared to similar projects and considering the value of heritage they provide, I believe that this price is certainly reasonable. I have no doubts that there will be 28 lucky collectors out there who will be proud to call these watches their own. For more information on availability, visit the Alpina website.

What do you make of these? Please let me know your thoughts on the Alpina Heritage Carrée Mechanical 140 Years in the comments below.

Watch specifications

Heritage Carrée Mechanical 140 Years
AL-490BA3C10 (black) / AL-490SA3C10 (silver)
Matte black with beige print / Matte silver and white with black print
Case Material
Sterling silver (925)
Case Dimensions
29.5mm (diameter) × 35.7mm (length excluding lugs) × 9.71mm (thickness)
Domed sapphire with antireflective coating
Case Back
Sterling silver with sapphire exhibition window
Alpina 490 — vintage in-house caliber, manual winding, 18,000vph frequency, 45-hour power reserve, 17 jewels
Water Resistance
Brown ostrich leather
Time only (hours, minutes, sub-seconds)
Special Note(s)
Limited to 14 pieces per dial variant