Association Horlogère Suisse and Union Horlogère
A cooperative of watchmakers called "Schweizerische Uhrmacher-Genossenschalt" ("Association Horlogère Suisse" in French, or "Swiss watchmaker Association" in English) was established on May 23, 1886 by Gottlieb Hauser of Winterthur. The date of establishment was later set as 1883. The organization was renamed "Schweiz. Uhrenmacher-Genossenschaft" in 1889. The association relocated to Biel on February 1, 1890.
The aim of this merger of leading manufacturer and traders was cost-effective production and distribution of watches. From 1901, the association was called "Union Horlogère" (Watch Association). There were factories in Geneva, Biel and in French Besançon.
The name "Alpina" was initially used to designate internally-developed calibres. Alpina was a developer and manufacturer of ebauche movements at the Duret & Colonnaz factory in Geneva. The brand name "Alpina" was officially registered in 1901.
Members of the Union Horlogère
The "Union Horlogère" included related producers and companies:
- J. Straub & Co.
- Kurth Frères, Grenchen (later Certina)
- Duret & Colonnaz, Geneva (ebauche movements)
- Huguenin - Robert (Gehäuse)
- Schwob Freres & Co, La Chaux-de-Fonds (Cyma)
- Robert Frères, Villeret (Minerva)
- J. Assmann, Glashütte from 1904 for the German market
Thus, the cooperative was based in Germany with representatives in Eastern and Northern Europe. The North American watch manufacturers Green and Hamilton appeared in 1905. This brought about the formation of Alpina Gruen Guild SA.
Alpina in Germany
From about 1909 a branch of Alpina appeared in Glashütte named "Präcisions-Uhrenfabrik Alpina". The products manufactured here were watches equipped with Swiss movements. Later these movements were used by UROFA.
In 1917, the Deutsche Uhrmachergenossenschaft Alpina ("German watchmaker cooperative Alpina") was founded in Eisenach by the merger of the watch manufacturers Biel-Geneva and Glashütte. Their headquarters was moved to Berlin in 1927.
In 1938 Alpina presented the model "Alpina 4", which, as its name indicates, combined four important quality characteristics: Anti-magnetic, water resistant, Incabloc shock protection, and a case in stainless steel. In addition, the Alpina 4 was equipped with the manual winding Alpina 592 movement, one of the most reliable available at that time. Thanks to ongoing technical improvements, Alpina sports watches enjoyed great success for several decades.
During World War II, the Allies prohibited the Union Horlogère to continue sales in Germany under the name "Alpina". Therefore, in 1942, Alpina was renamed "DUGENA - German watchmaker cooperative Alpina". As a trademark, the circle in the triangle is selected under the new brand, and achieved a high level of awareness.
Alpina Watch International
"Alpina Union Horlogère" was renamed in 1972 to "Alpina Watch International". In the 1970's and 1980's, the quartz crisis came and left this company, like so many others, in dire straits. Eventually there was only one German sales office, in Cologne. In 2000, the brand disappeared from the market.
Revival of Alpina in Switzerland
Interest in the famous brand remained in Switzerland, and in 2002, the Alpina name was acquired by the founders of Frederique Constant of Geneva. Their owners, the couple Aletta and Peter Stas, had created a sensation with the rapid rise of their own brand and wanted to rebuild Alpina as well.
In 2003 Alpina was reintroduced at the Basel Fair with a complete model lineup. The image of the brand is oriented again to the "spirit of alpinism". Accordingly, the new models have a sporty and robust appearance. The sports watch collection uses the strong expressive name "Avalanche".
Although the movements were initially purchased from ETA, in 2008 a proprietary, in-house manufacture movement appeared, the AL-950 with automatic winding. Later the brand added other movements, AL-980, AL-718, and AL-710, although the company continues to also use branded versions of the Valjoux 7750, Sellita SW500, and Unitas ebauches.
In 2008, for the 125th anniversary the brand, already more than 200 dealers offered Alpina watches all over the world. Like Frederique Constant, Alpina is priced as an "affordable" brand, albeit with true manufacture movements.
Alpina Watch International S.A.
8, Chemin de la Galaise
Tel: +41 22 860 0180
Fax: +41 22 860 0464