Inside & Out: Alpina Manufacture KM-710
The Alpina Manufacture KM-710 is a beautiful heritage watch with unfortunate heritage.
The Alpina Manufacture K.M-710 is the third watch Alpina have released to be based off two watches issued to the Kriegsmarine in the 1930s and 1940s. These watches were time-only, manually wound watches with high contrasting numerals. The first two modern references (AL-710KM4E6 and AL-710KMS4E6) were modern interpretations on the original design and had applied steel numbers, white lume and the regular Alpina logo. The K.M.-710 is more faithful to the original but still changes a few elements so it's more palatable to a modern buyer.
If you watched Vlog #011, you'll know that I have several issues about Alpina's decision to reissue this watch and keeping K.M. on the dial. Created in 1935 by Adolf Hitler, the K.M. or Kriegsmarine (War Navy in German) were the Naval force of Nazi Germany from 1935 till 1945.
Why am I mentioning all this? I cannot in good conscience say that I would buy this watch. Regardless of any technical merit, I couldn't do it. The more I learned about this watch's heritage over the past two weeks the less I found myself wanting to wear it. That being said, my moral objections to this watch are my own so in fairness to anyone looking to buy watch, I wanted to review it on its aesthetic and technical merits.
Alpina upped the case size from 33mm to 41.5mm
The two original K.Ms from the 1930s and 1940s were between 33m and 35mm and whilst this will suit vintage watch fans, its very small for most customers shopping today in the $1,000 to $3,000 bracket. The new KM-710 is 41.5mm which I found to be a very wearable size, it even felt a millimeter smaller on the wrist thanks to the sloped lugs contouring the case to the wrist. At 13mm high, it's not the slimmest watch but considering this is an in-house movement for under $3,000, I'm willing to accept a few more millimeters.
The majority of the case has a matte finishing to it which is broken up by sections of polish. The polished bezel ring and polished chamfered edges of the lugs are nice touches that bring the case design together very well. Much like the long chamfer on the Alpina Alpiner A4, the inclusion of these case finishing details is something that continues to impress me with Alpina. They don't need to be there and considering the price of the KM-710, $2,496, I would expect them not to be there.
Another detail that could have been overlooked is the glass box style sapphire crystal
True to period style, the KM-710 has a raised crystal which is reminiscent of mineral glass or hesalite. It adds a millimeter or so in height but I like the dedication to keeping the design as close to the original as possible. The subtle distortion of the minute track when viewed through the edge of the glass box is a nice horological idiosyncrasy that is no longer seen on modern watches.
The two 'Tribute to KM' pieces from Alpina both have applied hour markers but the KM-710 has printed ones instead. I've said many times before that a properly executed printed dial can be as good applied markers. Alpina did an excellent job here in making the large black Arabic numerals pop right off the dial. A military watch should value legibility over everything else and the black numbers are very crisp and clear against the ever-so-slightly off-white dial. Complementing the numbers are 12 lumed shapes placed on the silver railroad minute track. Much like the numbers, these are perfectly proportioned for the size of the watch. The color chosen is that perfect eggshell color that hints at patina but doesn't go full on 'fauxtina'.
Something that is often a point of contention with watch fans is the inclusion of a date complication. Many vintage watches, especially military pieces, didn't have a date and it's all too common to see reissues ruin the dial with a needless date window (Longines, I'm looking at you!). Rather than do that, Alpina chose to adapt the existing subsidiary seconds dial into a pointer date wheel. Unlike a habit of a certain aforementioned brand, Alpina increased the sub-dial size so it doesn't look weird in a bigger case size. Because of this, the date wheel is one of the better ones I've seen, especially on a reissue of a watch.
The lowered, brushed steel section of the wheel is unobtrusive and contrasts well with the inner creamy white dial. Some people might have wanted to Alpina to stick with the original small sections rather than change to a central seconds and date wheel. To those people I say that the increased case size would have left the dial too open and static so the change to central seconds was wise.
The K.M comes on a brown leather strap with light tan stitching with a pin and buckle branded with the Alpina logo. Given the vintage feel this watch is going for I really like the color and style. Annoyingly, the lug width is an odd 21mm so finding aftermarket straps to personalise your watch may be difficult.
Inside the watch is the Alpina Caliber AL-710.
This caliber is based off the FC-710 movement made by Alpina's sister company, Frederique Constant. Whilst Frederique Constant is responsible for the majority of the movement design and construction, Alpina did tweak a few details of the design including the black PVD asymmetrical rotor. The vintage Alpina Caliber 582 used a similar asymmetrical rotor but that was developed in the 19560s so the inclusion of a funky rotor is less about historical accuracy, and more about fun. Even though the function of the rotor is the same as all other regular shaped rotors I really enjoyed the unique shape. Like the chamfered edges to the case, it's another nice touch that didn't need to be there.
Most of the movement is unfortunately hidden underneath the raised central section but you can still see the balance wheel in a cut-away section at 6 o'clock. The raised section is finished with a linear Cotes de Geneve with the main plate finished in a circular perlage. Across both sections, heat treated blued steel screws are visible that provide the movement with a dash of color. It's not the most exciting movement as most of it remains hidden but for the money it's very impressive. Compare the finishing and quality of this movement to others in a similar price range and this is leagues ahead.
At $2,495 the Alpina Manufacture KM-710 is a well-priced watch that offers a solid case, a quality in-house movement and simple, but effective, dial. If the modern look of the 'Tribute to K.M' pieces don't appeal and you're willing to ignore the significance of K.M. printed on the dial, then this watch is a real contender.