The Alpina group of companies was initially formed in 1883, when a group of watch makers thought it might be a good idea to band together with a view to supplying watch parts and mechanisms to the watch making trade.
Unfortunately the original plan didn't quite work out and they were left scratching their collective heads as to how to improve business. A second plan was devised to further incorporate watch manufacturing companies into the group as a sort of joint venture and produce watch mechanisms of high quality that they could then on-sell.
And so the Alpina group was formed, comprising not just the original watch part makers, but also watch movement manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. In a fashion not dissimilar to the DeBeers diamond group, it was considered that Alpina could develop and sell to both the trade and retail and at the same time keep a tight reign on production costs and control the final product cost as well.
Initially formed as the Association Horologere Suisse in 1896, and then later known as the Union Horologere in 1911, it was at this time that the Company name was first used to represent a wide variety of watch movements. The range of complete watches that was used was extremely varied, and included highly jeweled timepieces, the wide use of precious metals, as well as more functional complicated movements.
They also made watches with another quality watch maker - Gruen. You may come across some watches with an "Alpina-Gruen" signature on the dial. These watches were known as Duo-Dial watches, a distinctive double-dialed watch showing a separate dial for the seconds hand.
Further enhancement of their range of watches saw a fully automatic movement added in the mid 1950s. Today you can buy Alpina watches brand new, but for collectors the older 1911 onwards range, especially the military watches from around the Second World War are very, very good buying. Alpina has to be considered as one of the best bargain watches you can collect at this time.
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