Alsta was a brand owned by Alstater Watch Company from New York. They imported Swiss movements and cased them in the US and unfortunately succumbed to the quartz crisis in the late 70s. The brand was revived by Robert the Bruce (Angus MacFayden) in 2014 and has steadily produced watches up until their latest creation – the Alsta Nautoscaph Superautomatic.
Alsta wanted to make watches that could go anywhere and do anything – and keep up with the hip and trendy youth of the 1970s. They wanted it to be as happy on the pistes of Courchevel as it was on the beaches of St Tropez. They produced the Surf n’ Ski – the name pretty much says it all. It provided 666 ft of water resistance and an Incabloc anti shock mechanism.
1970 Aslta Surf n’ Ski
1970 Paul Peugeot Surf n’ Ski Super Automatic
The next obvious step was to increase the water resistance of their model range to 999 ft. Enter the Nautoscaph. The original Alsta Nautoscaph was powered by a Felsa 4007N and later an ETA 2452 or 2783. The rarest combination was an A. Schild 2066 movement with a day date complication.
Remake on a tropic strap
The main thing that drew me to this watch was its reasonable size. It’s 38 mm across and has a much more vintage feel. Almost all other offerings in the same price category are whacking great obtuse 45 mm monsters that will not wear well as a daily. It’s a remake of a vintage so the fact it is sized correctly is a huge bonus.
The hour markers are brutal coffin shape indices with broad dagger-like hands – it’s not subtle but allows for great legibility. The main difference on the dial is replacement of ‘Incabloc’ with ‘shockresistant’ – as this was a brand in its own right.
In the original Jaws film from 1975, Richard Dreyfus portrays an enthusiastic oceanographer Matt Hooper. It’s this individual who immortalised this watch and this bracelet design. But it took until 2010 before it was worked out what he was actually wearing – that’s a slow-burn marketing technique for you.
Based upon the Speidel Mach 1 stretch bracelet that Hooper wore in Jaws, which had more of a race and rally feel – like the circle cutouts on the legendary Tissot PR516. It’s an unusual choice.
It’s this unorthodox combination that’s so bloody cool. This new 20 mm bracelet features a deployment clasp rather than the outdated stretch-style band that should stay in the 70s. I dig it.
Pricing is around £800 new with either a tropic strap or the Hooper bracelet. This is a limited edition of only 1975 pieces – relating to the release year of Jaws.
The bottom line is the styling is absolutely spot on, the case finishing is perfect and it wears really nicely on the wrist. The cheap Seiko movement is a bit of a letdown so I hope future developments with superior movements will occur.
Available here on the Alsta website.