We tend to shy away from covering press releases too often, but this one was hard to pass up. Alpina and Frederique Constant – two companies under the same umbrella fighting for bang-for-your-buck superiority – just announced a new in-house movement they’ll be sharing. I like a lot of what these guys put out, and their newest releases are no exception.

Let’s start with the movement. Frederique Constant calls it the FC-715, and Alpina calls it the AL-710, but I would venture to guess they’re nearly the same. The AL-710 is missing the moonphase, but the calendar display and central seconds are obvious commonalities. All of the statistics match up, as do the basic geometries, at least from what I can tell in the press photos. Beyond the moonphase, the primary difference is the rotor finishing, matching each company’s style: the dressy Freddy, and the sporty and casual Alpina. Both movements are fitted with 26 jewels, and will hold 42 hours of reserve. Frederique Constant developed their first in-house movement just over a decade ago, and it seems that they are smartly sticking closely to that initial movement design, making gradual improvements and modifications along the way.

To introduce the new movement, Frederique Constant revealed the Classic Manufacture Moonphase. The buzz is that it’s a great way to achieve the look of a Patek Philippe 3448, minus the day and month apertures. I think that’s a pretty fair assessment, but it’s still a great looking watch in its own right. It’s a very clean look overall, with fantastic vintage characteristics. Adding onto the classically styled dial is my favorite touch, the officer’s caseback. It seems that almost every watch these days has a see-through back, which gets tiresome. With the officer’s caseback, Freddy went a step further and added “conversation piece” to the descriptors of their new watch. For my taste, Freddy’s watches are often a few millimeters too large for dress watches, but the Classic Manufacture Moonphase was kept to a reasonable 40.5mm in diameter. I can’t find the thickness anywhere, but it appears fairly thin from the photos. The Classic Manufacture Moonphase should retail around $3,900, which is a superb value for an in-house calendar moonphase.

Next up is Alpina’s “Tribute to Alpina KM”, the vintage-inspired “jeans and t-shirt” to Freddy’s “suit and tie”. Alpina chose to honor the watches made by their namesake for the Kriegsmarine during WWII. My initial reaction is that it’s strange to honor watches made for the Wehrmacht Navy, but I guess with all of the Beobachtung Flieger homage watches still being made, it’s not too out of place. In any case, the Tribute to KM is a fantastic looking and versatile addition to the Alpina lineup. Alpina chose a 41.5mm case, a full millimeter larger than its cousin’s new watch, but I think it’s going to be a good size for most folks. The exhibition caseback shows off the new movement, including the Geneva-striped and blacked-out rotor. As with the Classic Manufacture Moonphase, I like that Alpina went with the calendar subdial instead of a date window. If I see another date window at 4:30, I’m going to attempt a self-lobotomy – just stop already! Alpina is also offering a non-tribute to KM version of this watch, which features a silver sunburst dial instead of the cream dial. For about $2,800 retail, Alpina’s newest release presents stiff competition for other in-house automatics in its class (like NOMOS automatics).

In recent years, NOMOS has gotten the majority of attention when the discussion of budget in-house movements comes up. However, for those that want something other than a Bauhaus design, Frederique Constant and Alpina are killing it. Both the Classic Manufacture Moonphase and Tribute to KM are homeruns for the Swiss watchmakers, and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on them.
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