Hands-On Review – Alpina Seastrong Gyre Made From Upcycled Ocean Plastics

The Skinny

  • 44mm
  • AL-525 movement, based on Sellita’s SW-200
  • Case made from upcycled ocean plastics
  • $1595 (with $100 going to support The National Parks)
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SCUBA & Mountains

About six years ago I bought my first Alpina, and I was struck with how nice the watch was, despite its low price point. I’ve come to believe that brands offering “good value” in Swiss Watches fall into two categories: those that make you wish you’d spent more, and those that make you happy you didn’t. For me, Alpina fits into the latter category with ease.

I also really love Alpina’s branding. It’s so Swiss, and so Alpine (duh). That scratches a lot of itches for this Europhile skier who idolized The Matterhorn and drank in the 1970s Swiss-Austrian aesthetic that pervaded American ski culture when I was growing up (think Norwegian sweaters and Swiss Chalet architecture). Aplina’s watches resonate with that vibe, regardless of what model we’re talking about, because their logo everpresently suggests The Swiss Alps.

It’s always seemed ironic to me that a land-locked country full of mountains developed and pretty much perfected the dive watch. You’d think some coastal country would have done that. But truly technical watchmaking was predominantly Swiss during the formative years of SCUBA, and so there is a strong link between the mountainous vibes and the underwater vibes of Swiss dive watches. Alpina’s divers epitomize that connection.

A Handsome, Fun, Lightweight Diver

I’m also a sucker for faded dials – fume, smokey, sunburst, whatever you want to call it – I’m game. So when I saw the Seastong Gyre had a faded dial, I immediately requested a sample for review.

What I hadn’t realized when I made the snap aesthetic decision to check out this watch was that the Gyre’s case is made from ocean plastics skimmed from gyres, which are the major ocean currents formed by predominant wind patterns. Once I realized that Alpina was driving toward sustainable practices and was also doing great advocacy for these environmental causes that matter so much to me, I was completely hooked. Then I learned that $100 from every sale of the Gyre would go to The National Parks (and sales will total close to $1-million). Boom – thank you Alpina, for giving a shit about the health of this planet of ours, and for putting your time, talents, and treasures to work toward making Earth habitable again for all species.

Predisposition acknowledged, I’m also stoked to report that I absolutely love this watch. And, believe me, I’ve been bummed before by watches I believe in but don’t like.

What struck me most about this watch is that it’s incredibly light, and it’s visually a knock-out. That dial I swooned over in images had a pretty good chance of sucking, because so many budget-friendly faded dials lack the finishing level to truly nail the effect. I’ve been bummed by more than a few of those. But the Gyre’s dial is beautifully executed, with a fade that doesn’t reveal any imperfections or slop.

It’s nice that the watch’s recycled plastic case is so light, because at 44mm in steel it might feel a little clunky. Instead, the Gyre feels incredibly light, nimble, and high tech – not unlike a carbon cased watch, which would cost so much more and do nothing particularly good for Mother Earth. I wish more brands would use these recycled ocean plastics in their watches (Oris does), and I really wish high end brands making carbon watches would get into this upcycling trend: Panerai, AP, Blancpain, Zenith, I’m looking at you.

The Gyre houses Alpina’s AL-525 movement, based on Sellita’s SW-200. It’s a solid Swiss movement that’s always going to be easily serviced as parts are readily available. Any complaints about the SW-200 can be directed to Snobbery Inc., who will happily entertain your fancy. For the rest of us, it’s all about reliability and accuracy, which is well covered by the SW-200.

I’m A Huge Fan

There is so much to like about this watch, and I can’t come up with a single complaint. You’ve got a case that’s made from plastic “nets” that float in the Indian ocean, and local fishing folks are paid to remove those “nets” so the plastics can be reused. This is upcycling in a nutshell – when done right, it’s always a win-win. You’ve got a significant amount of $$ going to The National Parks, and you’ve got a badass, high-tech feeling dive watch with a killer faded dial. This is the future of watchmaking as companies finally start to address Climate Change directly. And while a cynical and untrusting streak vis-a-vis corporations runs through me – as it should, I think, given the corporate role in destroying our environment – I don’t see the downside to this effort from Alpina. Bravo Alpina!