Alpha watches are not that well known within the watch community. At first glance, one might assume that it was a generic producer of watches pieced together from generic parts like so many other smaller Swiss brands from the 60s and 70s but that is not the case. Alpha was actually a subsidiary of a giant within the watch industry named Schwarz Etienne that was founded in 1902 and remains in operation today. They are the company behind the movements found in Ming watches and are producing watches themselves in collaboration with such great names as Voutilainen.
Schwarz Etienne was founded by Paul Arthur Schwarz and his wife Olga Etienn with the intention of focusing on designing and producing high quality movements which they have been doing ever since. In the over 100 years since the company’s inception, they have also produced many of their own watches under various brand names including Venus, Alpha, Sultana Le Phare, and Astin. The company really took off when the family’s son took over the company in the 40s and extended the business across Europe and also across Asia and the Near-East. They even produced watches for the Vatican and Leonid Brezhnev (the then Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet).
They were able to survive the quartz crisis by focusing back on movements and continue to honor that tradition today albeit no longer under the tutelage of the Schwarz Etienn family who sold the business in 2003 to Chaux-de-Fonds business man, Raffaello Radicchi.
The ubiquity of dive watches throughout the 70s from large and small brands alike is well documented. With such ubiquity and low price points, these watches tended to get a lot of wrist time and as a result, they are often found in sub-par condition. That’s what makes this watch so cool. The condition is excellent. Wearing a watch like this is like putting a time machine on your wrist. The textures, subtle rattles, fit and finish, and colors all transport you to another era and helps to contextualize what was happening in the Swiss watch industry in the 70s. These were brands fighting a downward price war against quartz while still trying to maintain quality. A fight that many brands including Alpha lost.
The Case and Bracelet
The 39.5mm stainless steel case is in excellent condition. Outside of some very minor scratches and some scuffs on the acrylic crystal, the watch looks like it has barely seen any time on a wrist. The most noticeable signs of wear can be seen in scratches on the caseback where removal was handled with a heavy hand. The bracelet is in matching excellent condition and will fit an 8.25 inch wrist.
The Dial and Hands
The multi tone dial and hands are in very good condition. The issues that are seen on the dial and hands are a result of the tritium lume which has caused some burning of the aubergine inner dial around the lume plots. Additionally, there is a piece of lume missing from the minute hand. On a very positive note the lume has aged beautifully to a rich caramel color that adds to the overall appeal of the watch.
This watch features an automatic ETA 2782 movement with hacking feature and quick set date. The watch is running and the service history is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Automatic ETA 2782|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Stainless Steel|