It doesn’t take much coaxing to take a shine to the Alpine Eagle, which Chopard brought to the market last year.
Memorialised as a year awash with an assortment of brand-new sports-oriented watches with integrated bracelets made of steel, they were introduced by brands which hitherto not acquainted with this segment. Chopard was among these names. Drawing inspiration from the discontinued St Moritz, Chopard’s articulation is pretty compelling.
The Alpine Eagle features a kind-of-organic, textured sunburst dial attained from galvanic treatment, which the brand says, is evocative of the iris of an eagle, instead of the enduring but straightforward sunray finish. If I were to describe it from my own observation,the dial is reminiscent of the trunk of a tree, whose vivid grooves look as though they have been carved by rain and shaped by age. Another point of interest which could easily have been overlooked is the finishing applied to the counter weight of the second hand, resulting in a feather-like impression. Chopard also has the propensity to engrave a motif specific to the collection onto the crown of the watch, with the compass rose preferred for the Alpine Eagle.
The overall implementation is unique and speaks of Chopard’s devotion to detail in ensuring the collection’s name isn’t a gimmick but a true representation of the product. It is this mise-en-scène that has yielded the Alpine Eagle an inimitable identity and averted the perils of the Alpine Eagle looking like some famous steel watches that came before it.
But there is more. The Alpine Eagle is fashioned in Lucent Steel A223, a steel alloy developed exclusively for this collection and consumed four years in research and development. It is superior to steel as it is 50% harder (read: less signs of wear and tear like dents and scratches over time) and thence exuding a richer, warmer shine than regular steel. This material alchemised from re-smelting steel at higher temperatures is used to form the case and the bracelet, which is designed especially for the collection and features bevelled edges. It is comfortable to wear due to its antiallergenic nature and beneath its seamless links conceals a “mystery” deployant clasp.
The Alpine Eagle is offered in 41mm and 36mm, with or without dates. While predictably, the sophomore act will entail the introduction of chronographs to an extent, Chopard opts instead to include the flyback chronograph complication in the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono.
As alluded to by its name, this novelty boasts a drastically, tangibly larger presence. The case of the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono measures 44mm diagonally and 13.15mm in thickness, in line with the belief that a modern chronograph has to be substantial. This is justifiable as the general chronograph-buying population sans purists tend to favour greater dimensions.
Although the XL Chrono’s movement is composed of more parts than a standard time-only movement – the Chopard 03.05-C movement deployed in this watch consists of 310 components, compared to the 207-part Chopard 01.01-C movement reserved for this year’s Alpine Eagle Large – both movements are of the same width at 28.8mm, albeit the movement of the flyback chronograph is understandably thicker at 7.6mm versus 4.95mm.
Chronometer-certified by the COSC, the Chopard 03.05-C movement is endowed with a column wheel and 60 hours of power reserve. It is meticulously finished – a common trait found in Chopard’s watches – and houses several patented innovations. Since chronographs are energy intensive, a unidirectional gearing system is incorporated into the movement to prevent the loss of energy while ensuring rapid winding.
Furthermore, a vertical clutch mode guarantees accurate time-measurement starts, while a Variner balance wheel looks after the 4Hz frequency of the movement by compensating for its variations in inertia throughout the watch’s lifetime. And of course, there is the pivotal flyback function to enable smooth successive timing operations thanks to three pivoting hammers with elastic arms facilitating zero-setting of the counters.
Chopard presents a trio of references for the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono: Lucent Steel A223 with an Aletsch blue or pitch-black dial and a bi-material version combining Lucent Steel A223 and 18k ethical rose gold with a pitch- black dial. To preserve symmetry, the right- hand pushers are subtly integrated into either side of the crown guards.
The new brass dial coalesces the textured sunburst finish with a snailed pattern. The central chronograph hand, as well as those of the minute and hour sundials, is adorned with a red tip to enhance legibility. The tachymeter scale, with discreet red 100, 160 and 240 graduations, appears on the inner bezel ring. It is divided into four steps, with different intervals of 5, 10, 20 or 40 km/h per line.
Revealing the rationale behind the pitch- black dial, Chopard co-president Karl- Friedrich Scheufele who co-created the collection deems this shade depicts veraciously the intense blackness of mountain nights when wild nature reclaims its rights.
It is an assessment I find myself unable to dispute. This pitch-black dial has emphatically made the luxury sports watch more assertive – more so than Aletsch blue – perhaps necessitated by the idyllic yet deceptively unforgiving mother nature.
(All images: Chopard)
This story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia’s November 2020 issue.