North American audiences may know the 24-hour clock as military time, but what about their counterparts in Europe? These guys started watching hours from midnight to noon instead of 12:00 am to 1:00 pm. For those who might not be familiar with this way of thinking or unfamiliar with how it works (or if you don't live on Earth), here's a quick summary!
The "alpha 24-hour watch" is a watch designed for the military. It features a 24-hour timekeeping dial, with an alpha numeric display in military universal time.
My Alpha 24-Hour watch is highly accurate and costs less than $70.00. However, I would advise Alpha to invest a little more money on improving the quality since there are a few issues with this product that detract from the overall owner experience and lower pleasure.
The manufacturer of Alpha watches, based in China (Hong Kong), has a wide selection of "homage" wristwatches that span a variety of styles, including dress, traditional, diving, and military-themed timepieces.
Although the cost of the company's wristwatches has increased by around 50% in the last two years, they are still quite affordable.
However, 50% of $50 means that you may still spend roughly $75 for a brand-new watch, such the Alpha "Military Universal Time" 24-hour watch that is the focus of this article.
On the one hand, a mechanical watch with a "in-house" movement for $75 is about as inexpensive as you can get (although where the Alpha movements are really made is a matter of debate).
On the other hand, if it meant I could purchase a watch of respectable — even trustworthy — quality, I'd prefer to spend even 50% more than that. I'll go into more detail about this below, but this is the biggest problem I have with the Alpha 24-hour watch.
Watch Company Alpha
I'll be the first to confess that I know almost little about the company. I've learned what I do know from different watch collecting forums; in fact, this is how I first learned about Alpha Watch.
When it comes to cheap watches, I believe there is a little bit of weird psychology at play. The unknown watch or watch company that provides Omega-like quality and workmanship at, well, Alpha costs is constantly on the hunt for a specific kind of collector.
There's nothing wrong with it; in a sense, that's what makes buying, selling, and collecting watches so much pleasure. Every collector wants to be the one to find the next Vostok Amphibia (review), which is both a real classic and an incredible value. I'm no different, but after being burnt once, I often don't try again.
Therefore, the 24-hour watch you see here is the only Alpha watch I have ever used. I'm unsure whether the more recent Alpha watches are superior to or inferior to my one, however it seems from browsing the different watch collector communities that my experience is probably about average. The quality of Alpha watches is average, and you never know exactly what you'll get.
A 24-Hour Universal Military Time Watch called the Alpha
I got this watch roughly two years ago, however I just sold it after barely 4-5 wears. When I bought it, it only cost me about $50, and if I recall properly, that price included shipping from Hong Kong to the United States.
There were no issues since the watch came quite promptly and was well packaged. A folded paper instruction page was included in the box, which was packaged in a little imitation leather bag. The watch had a functional rubber band and was packaged in transparent plastic.
For a watch with a "military" motif, my watch has a wonderful matte surface that seems to be bead-blasted metal. The Alpha 24-hour watch is now shown under the "GMT Function/Universal Time" section of the Alpha website, which makes it difficult to locate.
The 24-hour watch is currently only available in one style, a polished stainless steel model with a "ivory"-colored face and green digits, as I type this. It's unfortunate that the matte casing with black face variant has apparently been abandoned, since I believe it looks far better than the current polished version and the black face is more in keeping with the military aesthetic.
But given how often watches appear and go on the Alpha website, maybe they'll produce some more matte/black 24-hour watches in the near future.
There was another model of this watch, or at the very least, there was one with different-looking hands. I bought my watch just when they switched to pointed hands, which I think seem a bit out of place on a military watch and would probably look better on a dress watch.
The lume is what one would expect on a $50 (or $75) watch; it looks fantastic for a few minutes before fast fading. The face features recessed numerals, which is a nice touch.
The Alpha 24-Hour Watch’s specifics
The Alpha Military Universal Time 24-hour watch is no longer mine; I recently sold it. So, sadly, I was unable to broadcast a video, but right before it departed, I collected some measurements.
The watch is 13 mm thick and is 43.4 mm wide. Even if it doesn't seem very enormous in comparison to other watches with cases up to 44 mm in diameter nowadays, the Alpha 24H watch has a modified cushion-shaped casing that makes it wear fairly large. It might be a little challenging to wear with a long-sleeved dress or casual shirt since the watch is unmistakably "sporty."
It doesn't matter if the lug width is a non-standard 23 mm since any 24 mm strap (and, of course, 22 mm straps) will fit. The Alpha comes with a functional rubber strap, but I changed it first with the 24 mm wide black NATO strap (review) that can be seen in the review's video and then with the hard to find 24 mm gray/black NATO strap.
I believe the very large Alpha watch is too big for the thin NATO, therefore a rubber strap that is thicker—perhaps 4-5 mm—would be a better fit. Again, 24 mm broad rubber fits perfectly inside the Alpha's 23 mm lug width; 0.5 mm on each side is whisker thin and makes no difference, in fact, it fills up the width with no gaps.
The acrylic crystal of the Alpha watch is somewhat cloudy. Acrylic may scratch readily (although I didn't have that issue), but scratches are rather simple to remove with polish.
Recessed digits on the watch's face are supported by a luminous plate. The lume is really not horrible, but, like most inexpensive watches, it fades rapidly. The numerals are beautifully made with a kind of military stencil style. The black military-themed face contrasts awkwardly with the chromed or polished hands.
One of the 24-hour watches that is most straightforward to read and indicate time is undoubtedly this one. Many other 24-hour watches skip every other number or more since there isn't enough area on the display for all 24 digits, which might make it more challenging to read at a glance. The minute marks are on the outside non-movable bezel of the Alpha watch, and the numerals extend all the way to the edge of the face's diameter. The Alpha is given all of the crucial space on the face for the digits by positioning the minute markings on the exterior.
The watch has a sturdy cover that screws shut on the rear. I've never taken the watch's back off, therefore I don't have any pictures of the movement.
The Alpha 24-Hour Military Universal Time Wrist Watch is operated.
This is the time at which owning the Alpha 24-hour watch turns out to be disappointing. The screw-down crown of the watch is, incidentally, rather modest in relation to the size of the watch. It is out of proportion and lacks crown protectors, which makes it seem even smaller.
To set the watch, unscrew the crown; however, sometimes it takes one or two pulls to get the seconds hand to stop when the seconds hand "hacks" (the watch does this). For whatever reason, Alpha opted to make the hour hand individually adjustable, making the watch more difficult than it needed to be. This is when things become complicated.
When the crown is pushed back in, it is virtually hard to keep the hour and minute hands in position. Many owners of Alpha 24-hour watches have complained that this hasn't been able to happen because of the movement's rough finish. It takes a lot of fiddling to get the hands aligned at the 24 hour mark so that the date will roll over at that time, and it's really challenging to get the hour and minute hands to line up properly on the hourly markers.
Although I can understand Alpha's desire to create this a real "Universal Time" 24-hour watch, the movement's spartan construction just cannot accommodate this function. The result is that the owner of an Alpha watch has a watch where the hour hand virtually never reaches the hour mark accurately. This is terrible news if you need to reset the hour hand for any reason since it may take many attempts to get everything to operate even partially properly.
Other than that, the watch maintained remarkably precise time, seldom deviating from "atomic" time by more than a few seconds over the course of a day.
Although the Alpha 24-hour watch has a nice appearance, I can only classify it as a novelty item and not a true timepiece. If the watch had functioned well and had a higher-quality movement, I would have preferred to pay even twice or three times as much for it (and perhaps a sapphire crystal). I believe Alpha is undervaluing its capabilities; they undoubtedly possess the necessary knowledge, but selling watches for $50 to $75 will only get you so far.
They may be a real candidate to become the "Seiko of the 21st Century" if they go upscale, put more time and care into completing their watches, charge a little bit more, and do so. Currently, I have decided not to buy any more Alpha watches due to my very negative experience with the quality of the 24-hour Military Universal Time wristwatch. Cheaper products aren't always better.
The "24 hour watch movement" is the most important feature of this watch. The 24-hour hand moves once every day, so it is always in sync with the Earth's rotation.
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