A new line of sports watches by Chopard expands technological horizons while remaining firmly in the traditions of the long-established watchmaking and jewellery house.
Introduced in 1980, the St. Moritz was the first sports watch to be created by the illustrious watchmaker and jeweller Chopard. Named after the ritzy Swiss Alpine resort town where the company operated one of its early boutiques, it was also the first timepiece to be designed by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, whose parents – Karl and Karin – had bought the Geneva-based brand in 1963. At the time just 22 years old, the young Scheufele had come up with a watch that, with its elegant, functional and a forward-thinking design that incorporates a screwed bezel, tonneau shape and integrated bracelet, ticks many boxes today and in retrospect appears remarkably prescient.
Perhaps for Chopard customers, however, the St. Moritz was just a little too far ahead of its time because, though certainly handsome – it came in steel, and yellow- or white-gold, as well as two-tone and diamond-set versions, with dial indices a distinctive mix of simple markers and Roman numerals – it was eventually replaced in the brand’s line-up. As Chopard’s men’s collections began to veer in two different directions – namely classic dress watches and motorsport-inspired timepieces – the St. Moritz remained little more than a memory until the moment when Scheufele, who was by now the company’s co-president, was asked by his son Karl-Fritz about the example that he’d spotted lying on his dad’s desk. Not only was the third-generation scion intrigued by St. Moritz’s evident modernity, but he also told his father that it was exactly the kind of watch that the family-owned concern should be making in today’s market.
Fast forward some five years to the autumn of 2019 and a world that’s now mad for sports watches in steel, and Chopard has done exactly what Karl-Fritz suggested, by mining its history to create a new model that references its own legacy, yet perfectly connects with the prevailing zeitgeist. Although not exactly a rebirth of the St. Moritz – if nothing else, the resort town has settled into what might be called a hyper-affluent maturity in the intervening years, so the name isn’t quite as glamorous as it once was – the new Alpine Eagle retains several key elements of its predecessor, though all have been subtly reinterpreted. More contemporary and sporty, it’s been given a mildly outdoorsy edge of ruggedness, which contrasts with its svelte lines and embodies Scheufele’s own professed love of the mountains.
Initially available in two sizes – 41mm (in three references) and 36mm (in seven references) – the Alpine Eagle has been designed for both men and women, with the smaller size not necessarily being aimed at the latter. All are powered by a COSC-certified, self-wound manufacture calibre – either the 01.01-C with a 60-hour reserve in 41mm variants and, in smaller models, the 09.01-C with 42 hours of power – and all, thanks partly to the bezel’s eight retaining screws, boast water resistance of 10 bar.
As is now customary at Chopard, ethical rose gold is an option on the Alpine Eagle, as are diamond-set gold bezels and bracelets, as well as mother-of-pearl dials. The hero material on this new line of watches, however, must surely be stainless steel – or, to be much more accurate, a rare and unique new alloy created after four years of research that’s known as A223 Lucent Steel. Remarkable, among other attributes, for its purity, hardness, physical brilliance and beauty, it also contains a proportion of recycled stainless steel, which also helps the brand attain its sustainability objectives. Chopard also claims that its vertically integrated production processes mean that all movement, case and bracelet parts are manufactured in-house.
As equally arresting as the case, screw-down bezel and integrated bracelet is a rock-textured dial on some versions of the Alpine Eagle that evokes the raptor’s eye, against which the slender, Super-Luminova-coated hands and indices (and, as with the St. Moritz, the latter comprise markers and Roman numerals) gleam in the dark like the snow on a rocky mountain top. The dial’s rough contours also contrast strikingly with the satin-brushed flat surfaces, the polished chamfered edges and the elegant simplicity of its bracelet.
A passionate skier and hiker who spends as much of his spare time as he can in the mountains, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is a member of the Alp Action programme, an ecological initiative set up by the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan in 1990. Dedicated to the great bird that rules the skies over those majestic mountains, Chopard’s new Alpine Eagle is a state-of-the-art symbol both of that passion, yet it’s and also the perfect embodiment of the creativity and savour-faire of a maison that has more than a century and a half of craftsmanship, technical mastery and tradition to draw on.