Wing It

It Took Three Generations To Create Chopard’s New Alpine Eagle Watch Collection

The collection benefits the Alpine environment, too.

It Took Three Generations To Create Chopard’s New Alpine Eagle Watch Collection

The sports-luxe steel timepiece is perhaps the most closely watched of all categories in horology, and for good reason. The segment houses everything from Audemars Piguet’s famous Royal Oak to Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, and Girard-Perregaux’s Laureato. Now, those watches will have yet another compatriot, in the form of Chopard’s new Alpine Eagle collection.

The Alpine Eagle conforms perfectly to the archetype of the sports-luxe watch. Its aesthetic is both bold and elegant, thanks to the combination of the integrated case and bracelet construction, visible screws on the bezel, and smooth bracelet that alternate brushed and polished links.

The watch is available in two sizes, to cater to different aesthetic considerations. The Alpine Eagle in 41mm is distinctly sportier, with two models in Lucent Steel A223 (more on this later), and one in lucent steel and rose gold — and nary a diamond in sight. The dials are available in grey or blue, colours that are galvanically coated over a stamped brass dial. The unique texture on the dials are intended to resemble the iris of an eagle — apropos, given the name of the collection.

Alpine Eagle 41mm

The Alpine Eagle in 36mm, however, comprises seven different models, with variants in Lucent Steel, bi-coloured Lucent Steel and rose gold, as well as full rose gold. Here, the textured blue and grey dials are made available alongside ones made of mother-of-pearl, and four of the seven models have diamond-studded bezels.

The movements in all Alpine Eagle models are chronometer-certified by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC). The 01.01-C calibre in the Alpine Eagle 41mm has a 60-hour power reserve, while the 09.01-C calibre in the 36mm model has a 42-hour power reserve. In addition, the 20.4mm-wide 09.01-C movement is among the smallest to receive COSC certification.

Given that the sports-luxe watch has been a popular category for decades by this point, it might not surprise you to hear that the Alpine Eagle is actually a contemporary reinterpretation of a similar sporty timepiece from the 1980s, called the St Moritz.

The St Moritz was originally launched in 1980 as the first watchmaking endeavour of Chopard’s current co-president Karl Friedrich Scheufele. The watch also constituted a big risk for Chopard at the time, because it was both the brand’s first sports watch, as well as its first to ever be made out of steel. Scheufele had to convince his father, Karl Scheufele, that the risk would pay off. And it did — the St Moritz proved a bestseller in the decade following its launch, although it was eventually discontinued.

The watch was revived as the Alpine Eagle somewhat serendipitously — Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s son, Karl-Fritz, brought up the idea of reviving the St Moritz (secretly supported by grandfather Karl), and successfully convinced his father that it was a worthwhile endeavour. Watchmaking conviction clearly runs in the family.

The St. Moritz was a risk for Chopard, but it proved popular in its time.

Comparing the Alpine Eagle and the St Moritz, it’s obvious that the two are related, with the same functional screws on the bezel, and similar dial layouts using Roman numerals.

Where they differ is shown most clearly on the bezel — where the St Moritz has a very curvy bezel shaped around the screws, the Alpine Eagle’s remains smoothly rounded. The hands on the Alpine Eagle are also thicker, with the hours and minutes hands filled with SuperLumiNova and the seconds hand shaped like a raptor’s feather. And, of course, the Alpine Eagle has that distinct eagle’s eye dial texture.

The detail in the finishing of the Alpine Eagle is also impeccable, with different surfaces having either satin-brushed and smooth polished finishes. The precision of the finishing hints at Chopard’s long-honed expertise in watchmaking.

A detailed view of the Alpine Eagle 41mm.

Steel Yourself

On top of the redesign, the Alpine Eagle collection also debuts Chopard’s proprietary new steel material, which it calls Lucent Steel A223 — an appropriate tribute to the brand’s first-ever steel watch.

Lucent Steel A223 is a steel that has been re-smelted to achieve three unique properties. It is hypoallergenic, with a dermo-compatibility comparable to surgical steel. Plus, it is also exceptionally scratch-resistant, with a Vickers’ hardness of 223, 50 percent more than conventional steels. Finally, Lucent Steel A223 has a unique homogeneous crystal structure that allows it to reflect light in a unique way — its brightness and brillance is comparable to that of gold.

The material took Chopard four years to develop, and its exceptional hardness means that machining it is significantly more difficult than regular steel. That Chopard has chosen to create and industrialise such a material indicates its dedication to breaking new ground in watchmaking materials, and parallels its commitment to only using ethical gold in all its products.

The Bernina mountain chain, part of the Swiss Alps.

Doing Good

The launch of the Alpine Eagle is also significant for another reason: It marks the simultaneous launch of the Eagle Wings Foundation, created by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. The Foundation is intended to be a multidisciplinary environmental project designed to raise awareness of the importance and fragility of Alpine habitats.

The Foundation’s first act was an Alpine Eagle Race held last month, where an eagle was harnessed with a camera and launched from five different Alpine peaks to take images of the beautiful terrain from a literal bird’s eye view. The five peaks were Zugspitze in Germany, Dachstein in Austria, Marmolada in Italy, Aiguille du Midi in France and Piz Corvatsch in Switzerland.

The race ended St. Moritz, in tribute to the original creation that inspired Alpine Eagle.

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