There are just six competitors, including Alpina ambassador Éric Péron. The race is likely to take 40-50 days as the skippers face the winds, waves and tides, sailing round the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn on an exceptionally challenging west-to-east round-the-world route. One variable will be uppermost in their minds: time. Whatever their strategy and their endurance, time will ultimately be the sole judge of their performance.
Alpina has brought all its expertise to bear to keep track of the challenge, focusing on two key concepts: accuracy and robustness. And for this extreme environment in which every second counts, the Maison can draw on one hundred and forty years of experience.
Two dedicated limited editions to commemorate the race
Founded in 1883, Alpina was birthed in the shadow of the Alps. The two timepieces unveiled for the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest bear witness to these origins and reap the fruits of this historic heritage for the benefit of ocean-going yacht racing. To do so, they’ve adopted the structure of the imposing cushion-shaped 41-millimetre Extreme case. The steel used for this case is designed to withstand the harshest environments; the crown features a grip devised to be adjusted even amid ocean spray. The case is certified water resistant to 200 metres thanks to a solid, screw-down caseback, on which the name of the race is engraved. It houses the Swiss Made AL-525 automatic movement, boasting a 38-hour power reserve driving three central hands and a date display at six o’clock.
A 100% steel version
The first limited edition of 100 pieces, engraved with ‘1 out of 100’ on the caseback, comes in an all-steel housing comprising the case, bezel and strap. The non-reflective sapphire crystal reveals a deep navy blue dial engraved with Alpina’s triangular emblem. Around it, large, luminous hour markers denote hours and minutes, indicated by two openwork, hand-polished hands with luminous tips. Beneath these at six o’clock lies the trident-shaped ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest logo. As befits the high standards of Swiss workmanship, the watch features a satin finish throughout and a crown grip that matches the dial colour.
A blend of steel and rubber
The second version, limited to 150 pieces and numbered in the same fashion, has a sportier look and feel with more contrasts. The dial is silvered, while blue is reserved for the strap and flange – and, more unusually, the hand-polished hour markers and hands, thanks to a blue luminous coating specially developed to match the race colours. This powerful, contemporary design features the Alpina emblem as a triangular second hand counterweight that echoes the race logo at six o’clock, both done out in the same shade of bright red – a visual embodiment of the alliance of Alpina’s expertise and the determination typical of the extreme yachtsmen taking part in the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest.
In for the long haul
Éric Péron will be one of the first to benefit from this piece of precision engineering. The top-level skipper has sailed in major crewed and single-handed yacht races on Olympic courses and ocean-going challenges in French waters and worldwide, and has been an Alpina ambassador since October 2023. His love of the extreme and his taste for challenge will be considerable assets for this race timed by Alpina, during which he will need to handle complex, extreme and dangerous situations all on his own.
Alpina’s commitment to ocean-going racing is a long-term one. Extending through until at least 2026, it will also include the next edition of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, a race that sees more boats in multiple categories cross the starting line than any other.