In my mind, it was not all that long ago that I reviewed the first version of the Alpina AlpinerX – but it was. Just about 2.5 years ago, to be precise. In the watch world that doesn’t necessarily mean a long lapse of time, but in the tech and gadget world, that’s a much different story. Given that, we were quite happy to have a look at a loaner of the latest Alpina AlpinerX Alive.
As you might guess from the name of the watch, the Alpina AlpinerX Alive is incorporating an optical heart rate monitor. Realistically, HR tracking is table stakes in the smart watch world. It’s a nice value-add, as it enables a different level of fitness tracking for a watch, without needing to pair a secondary HR chest strap (which, to be fair, you could do with the original AlpinerX, and with this one if you want). Unfortunately, that means the outdoors-specific features of the original (altimeter, barometer, and compass) are tossed out to make room for the HR tracking.
As far as smartwatch capabilities go, you’ve got the basic sets of alerts and whatnot (sent over from your phone), which the upgraded digital display Alpina AlpinerX Alive does a decent enough job of showing. For me, though, I’ve still not found a good use for smart watch notifications on the wrist, so I didn’t give those a whole lot of attention. Rather, I was more interested in the fitness tracking – for that, it would be going up against my trusty Polar Vantage M.
The first thing I needed to do, though, was figure out how I’d attach the Alpina AlpinerX Alive to my wrist. You see, while the first AlpinerX had a rubber strap with deployant that didn’t require cutting to get fit, this new version did indeed require cuts to get a fit. Can’t quite do that to a loaner, though, so I instead grabbed a spare strap from my Polar, and managed to get things fit (you’ll notice that as the white strap in some of the photos). Ah, the glamorous side of being a watch reviewer.
Actually, we need to back up a little bit – before hitting the trail in the morning, I needed to wake up. Again, the Polar Vantage M has been my trusty silent alarm clock, vibrating on my wrist to wake me up without fail. Well, the Alpina AlpinerX Alive can also do that, with an additional trick up it’s sleeve – you can tune a “wakeup window” via the smartphone app. When the watch is tracking your heart rate and sleep activity, it can figure out the best time to actually wake you up in your sleep cycle. So, you may wake up a bit earlier than planned, but you should wake up more quickly.
Now, it’s time to hit the trail. While the Alpina AlpinerX Alive does have GPS on-board, it took a bit longer to grab the signal than the Polar. In fact, a few days I was actually well on my way walking to the trail before it grabbed the connection. It still estimated my distance, and overall, the distance travelled was relatively close to what the Polar reported, as was the HR being tracked. Sure, there were minor differences, but that’s fine as these are not medical devices. And realistically, you’re going to use the same watch day after day, so you’ll see your progress in relation to the prior recordings and know how things are going.
I will admit, I am nowhere near as used to the interface on the Alpina AlpinerX Alive as I am with the Polar. That said, I did not find the Alpina to be as intuitive when it came through cycling through different activities (say, recording a jog rather than a walk), as well as starting, pausing, or stopping the recording. There’s also no denying that the Alpina AlpinerX Alive is a rather heavy watch. Yes, the fiberglass case is lighter than steel would be, but it still is not as light as other fitness-specific watches I’ve tested (partly due to the steel back, and partly due to the guts inside the watch).
Going into the review, I really wanted to like the Alpina AlpinerX Alive. And, to be fair, I didn’t hate my time with the watch. The new OLED sub-display is crisp and bright, and the inclusion of a HR sensor brings a lot more capability. However, it’s not as handy of an outdoors watch as the original was (which is still available, actually), and it’s heavier and less-intuitive than a dedicated fitness watch would be (if that’s your primary goal). I suppose if you wanted to have just one watch to be your smart watch, fitness watch, and your nice Swiss watch, the Alpina AlpinerX Alive is where it’s at. For me, with a price tag of $1,116? I’m more than happy to keep on with multiple watches, and keeping with no smart watch during the day, and my trusty Polar for the trails and outdoors. alpinawatches.com
- Brand & Model: Alpina AlpinerX Alive
- Price: $1,116
- Who’s it for? You want a smart watch and HR tracking for the occasional fitness foray, but you don’t want anything to do with the Apple Watch or WearOS
- Would I wear it? Not as compared to the original AlpinerX or my regular fitness watch, no
- What I would change: Pop this HR tracker into the original AlpinerX and see if you can shave some weight (maybe trash some of the smart watch notification stuff) and come up with a really killer outdoors watch, a higher-end challenger to, say, the ProTrek lineup
- The best thing about it: The capabilities that the HR sensor brings to the platform
Tech Specs from Alpina
- MMT-284 CALIBER
- DARK BLUE DIAL WITH MAT FINISHING, SILVER COLOR INDEXES WITH WHITE LUMINOUS TREATMENT, BLUE HANDS WITH WHITE LUMINOUS TREATMENT
- AMOLED TOUCH SCREEN
- COMPATIBLE WITH ALPINERX HEART RATE MONITORING BELT
- CALIBER: MMT-284 CONNECTED CALIBER.
- BATTERY LIFE: RECHARGEABLE BATTERY. 7-DAY BATTERY*
- *BATTERY LIFE MAY VARY UPON USAGE (GPS, HEART RATE MONITORING, NOTIFICATIONS ETC.)
- ALWAYS ON-TIME & DATE
- WORLDTIMER (2ND TIME ZONE + LOCAL 24H TIME)
- CHRONOGRAPH (STOPWATCH, TIMER, WORKOUTS)
- HEART RATE MONITORING
- ACTIVITY TRACKING
- SLEEP MONITORING
- SMART ALARMS (GET-ACTIVE ALERTS, SLEEP ALARM)
- BREATHING EXERCISE
- NOTIFICATIONS (CALLS, MESSAGES, EMAILS)
- MESSAGES REVIEW
- VO2 MAX
- CARDIO FITNESS INDEX
- GPS TRACKING
- DYNAMIC COACH
- MATERIAL: BLACK GLASS-FIBRE AND STAINLESS STEEL 2-PARTS CASE, 360° BI-DIRECTIONAL TURNING BEZEL
- CRYSTAL: SCRATCH-RESISTANT CONVEX SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL
- WATER-RESISTANCE: UP TO 10 ATM/100M/330FT
- DIAMETER: 45MM
- STRAP MATERIAL: BLUE RUBBER STRAP