Flying the Friendly Skies with Alpina
It's certainly no secret that Alpina has more than a passing interest in pilot's watches and all the high flying exploits that go part and parcel with that particular genre. Founded in 1883 in Switzerland, and acquired by Frederique Constant in 2002, the brand was an official supplier to numerous air forces, and throughout has consistently stood for quality and value. None of this has changed with the introduction of the revamped Startimer Pilot at Baselworld 2017, which took the previous Startimer and refined the formula with an updated dial, applied indexes and a new crown design. Mike Goulian in his "office"
Fast forward to present day, and the first Startimer limited edition is ready to take flight with none other than Michael Goulian, legendary air racer and Alpina ambassador. Say hello to the 99MG Limited Edition, which pays homage to the man with a deep, blue dial, "titanium" colored case and a caseback engraved with Mike's signature and the individual number of the watch.
Designed for speed
While the diameter is a generous 44mm, the case is a hair less than 11mm thick, which allows it to sit close to the wrist. This, together with the gunmetal finish, makes the 99MG wear smaller on the wrist than many similarly sized watches. Under the cowling thrums a tried and true Selitta SW200.
So, how do you introduce a collaboration like this? Easy, you stick journalists in the cockpit with Mike, and send them up into the wild blue yonder so that they can get a firsthand look at just what it is that the man does for a living. First off, it's worth noting that Mike is pretty much the nicest guy in the world, which goes a long way towards building confidence. Add to this his almost infectious love of flying, and – boom – you've got my ever-so-slightly-overweight butt strapped in, mic'd up and ready to be the Goose to his Maverick. (Okay, maybe not Goose, but you see where I'm going with this.)
Definitely not the "right stuff"
The plane in question is an Extra 300L, which features a tandem seating configuration that places the passenger in front, with a redundant set of controls, while the pilot sits directly behind. The plane was designed to handle +8Gs of stress with two passengers on board, but I'm pleased to say that Mike didn't not attempt to prove this during our flight time together. I'm not saying that it didn't feel like that at times, but I seriously doubt that I could survive experiencing 8x my current body weight for so much as a nanosecond without passing out. The highlight? Mike passing over the controls and talking me through a 360 degree loop. Just... wow.
I'm pleased to say that I survived the experience with my dignity – and lunch – intact. More importantly, I got to learn a bit about the business of aerobatic flying and racing from a legend in the industry. Alpina couldn't ask for a better ambassador, and Mike couldn't ask for a better LE to bear his and his team's name.
The Alpina Startimer Pilot 99MG Limited Edition (188pcs) is on sale now for $1,150.