In most cases, a tool watch has one or two specific functions or specialties that help it perform its intended duties. For example, a dive watch’s 60-minute bezel and resistance to water are absolutely essential, while other features are icing on the cake. On a race timer, a chronograph and tachymeter bezel are all that’s needed. However, an expedition watch more or less requires a jack-of-all-trades type of build.
Think about it: you and your friends have planned a backpacking trip for the long weekend. Mountains, streams, a couple dozen miles, and a flask full of whiskey. There’s lots to account for. If you have the right watch, that would be one less thing to worry about. Both the Bremont Terra Nova and Alpina Alpiner GMT 4 have the water, shock, and magnetic field resistance — along with a compass bezel (here’s how to use one) — needed for a serious expedition. One just costs much more than the other.
Bremont Terra Nova
It’s no secret Bremont knows how to do tool watches. Their pilot and dive watches are almost beyond reproach functionally, and they’re good looking to boot. Their one downfall was their lack of a true expedition watch. Well, someone must have heard our nitpickings, because at Baselworld 2014, Bremont unveiled theTerra Nova ($5,995).
Purposely designed for Ben Saunders’s epic trek across Antarctica to the South Pole, the Terra Nova ticks all the boxes for an expedition watch. The stout, 43mm-wide titanium case is fitted with a compass bezel, second timezone hand, a date function, and inner 24-hour track. Throw in Bremont’s practically standard resistance to all elements, and you can be sure your timepiece will still be ticking whether your compass skills get you home or not. The Terra Nova’s only limitation is its price; some explorers may not be able to handle the $6,000 price tag.
Alpina Alpiner GMT 4
Alpina really is an interesting brand. With a longstanding heritage that was nearly ended by the quartz crisis, they were taken off of life support in 2002 by Frederique Constant. In an effort to preserve their original mission, today’s Alpina watches are made with four standard traits: they’re waterproof, anti-magnetic, anti-shock, and have a stainless steel case.
Upholding the Alpina legacy is the Alpiner GMT 4 ($2,495), an excellent expedition watch — and alternative to the Terra Nova with its compass bezel, second timezone, and resistance to the elements. At first blush, the bezel might be a bit confusing; but just add a zero after each double digit number, and you’ve got yourself 360 degrees. Using its own GMT module on top of a Selitta SW200 movement, Alpina does the second timezone properly: the main hour hand can be jumped to accommodate a new timezone as opposed to having to wind the minutes and hours each time you travel.
Similar to Bremont, Alpina is also involved in real life expeditions, as they’ve sponsored various exploration teams and challenges in recent years. But the best part about the Alpiner GMT 4? Its price. This excellent example comes in at a much more reasonable $2,495.