There’s a new Chopard Alpine Eagle in stores. It’s a 41mm wide, 9.75mm thick, date-only watch with an integrated bracelet and a 60-hour power reserve. Isn’t that just the Alpine Eagle Large in Lucent Steel A223 that debuted with the collection in 2019, you ask? Good guess, but no. This is the Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF and while it does closely resemble the standard steel model, the differences, though aesthetically minor, are worth discerning.
Based on its name, the most obvious highlight of this watch is its high-frequency movement. This one beats at 8Hz, or 57,600vph, which means the balance wheel makes eight full oscillations per second. This is about double the modern (and perfectly sufficient) industry standard of 3 to 4Hz.
Although it is generally believed (at least in theory) that the higher the frequency of a watch, the more accurate it becomes because the increased number of ticks makes the movement slightly less susceptible to external disturbances, high-beat movements are more uncommon than not. And it’s not just because they’re difficult to make — because they most certainly are — but because there tends to be a trade-off between increasing accuracy and wearing down the movement from all those extra rotations.
That’s where modern technology and Chopard’s commitment to chronometry comes in. By using silicon to make the escape wheel, pallet-lever, and impulse pin (all components that are subject to high friction), the Calibre 01.12-C requires no additional lubricants so wear and tear is kept to a minimum. Impressively, the movement also provides the same 60 hours of reserve power as the standard models, and it is COSC-certified. You can see the Calibre 01.12-C in action through the watch’s sapphire crystal caseback.
Obviously, this isn’t Chopard’s first high-beat rodeo. Its experiments with such movements began as early as 2012, when it launched the L.U.C 8HF in titanium, equipped with the L.U.C 01.06-L calibre. It became the world’s first high-frequency watch to be chronometer-certified by the COSC. This was followed by the L.U.C 8HF Power Control in black ceramic and titanium DLC in 2014, and the Superfast Power Control Porsche 919 HF in 2017. Aside from limited numbers and extraordinary movements, all these models had something else in common: a highly technical design.
And this brings us to what makes the Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF especially appealing. Many high-frequency watches are chronographs, understandably because the increased precision benefits this complication the most. But in the Alpine Eagle’s beautiful day-or-night, sport-or-soiree design, it becomes a technical masterpiece that doesn’t need to look the part.
This design is actually a modern interpretation of the St. Moritz, a luxury sports watch Chopard co-president Karl-Friederich Scheufele created in 1980. To respond to the very same trend of sporty-chic timepieces that has reemerged in recent years, Karl’s grandson Karl-Fritz pushed for the model’s revival, and the Alpine Eagle was born. Now two years in, the collection is expanding in all the right directions.
The Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF is cased in titanium, which would explain its visual similarity to its steel counterpart. But closer inspection will reveal that the “eagle iris” dial is hand-patinated to achieve a brand new colour in the collection dubbed “Vals Grey”, after the eponymous Swiss village that is famous for its similarly shaded quartzite tile roofs. And unlike previous Alpine Eagle models, there is only one Roman numeral at 12 o’clock, with the rest replaced by baton hour markers. Other clues that point to this watch’s special characteristics are a subtle “8Hz Chronometer” under the brand name, and an arrow-shaped logo above 6 o’clock, which can only be found on Chopard’s high-frequency watches.
The 41mm Alpine Eagles were previously only available in Lucent Steel A223, gold, or a combination of the two, so a titanium option will be welcomed by those who prefer their watches significantly lighter or less shiny. Still, the superb case finishing of contrasting polished and satin-brushed surfaces gives the watch a beautiful lustre not often seen on titanium watches.
For all the reasons listed above, the Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF will be a limited edition of just 250 pieces, a number that is likely a nod to the Chopard Manufacture’s 25th anniversary this year.