Rolled out alongside its larger sibling, the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono, you are forgiven for not noticing that Chopard simultaneously added a couple of Alpine Eagle Large and a single Alpine Eagle Small models to the existing collection.
Society seems to have an embedded obsession with size despite being repeatedly told by experts, size doesn’t matter. Launched last year to much fanfare, the Alpine Eagle collection is Chopard’s answer to the industry’s fervour for sports watches with integrated bracelets. Much of Alpine Eagle’s design is based on the discontinued St. Moritz, but updated to suit modern tastes.
In retrospect, you could say Chopard was playing it safe. While the Large models were beautifully made to exacting standards, they were pretty vanilla in that they were bereft of bling- bling – rather unexpectedly when you consider Chopard’s irrepressible reputation as a jeweller. You had a choice of two dials between blue and grey; both in Lucent Steel A223. If you were after a tad more gloss, you could opt for the bi-material model pairing Lucent Steel A223 with 18k rose gold – responsibly sourced, might I add.
The Alpine Eagle Large was one of the nominated watches in the 2020 Foundation of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) men’s category as a testament to its quality as decided by GPHG Academy members comprising CEOs and czars in watchmaking.
But something was conspicuously missing. When I looked at the shelf, I could picture a full gold Alpine Eagle Large model. It wouldn’t look out of place and they might want to throw in some diamonds too while they are at it. Modern men don’t recoil at the thought of showing off some gemstones. Today’s women too like their watches big.
Though I am yet to direct the question as to the absence of a full gold model, I put it down to Chopard’s eagerness to showcase Lucent Steel A223. The exclusive alloy consumed four years of research. It is 50% harder than stainless steel and anti-allergenic. When you examine it in person, you will discern that Lucent Steel A223 is superior to stainless steel and that it glows brighter too to the point that you wouldn’t think it is partially forged from recycled steel.
This year, Chopard addresses what was sorely missing with the Alpine Eagle Large made of 18k rose gold and another whose bezel is set with 36 diamonds weighing 1.25 carats. Both watch cases measure 41mm and they are equipped with the COSC-certified Chopard 01.01-C automatic movement, which stores 60 hours of power reserve. Inspired by eagles, both watches feature galvanic-treated brass dials evocative of the iris of the avian predator, complemented with seconds hands boasting feather-esque counterweights.
When one talks about Chopard and precious metals, the brand’s commitment to ethical sourcing can’t be overlooked or downplayed. The extraction of finite natural resources such as gemstones and precious metals straddles contentious geopolitical, environmental and social issues. Often it is the voiceless on the bottom rung of the ladder who are constantly exploited. From unfair wages to unsafe work environments, these malpractices reverberate throughout the world. It is up to consumers to take an unwavering stand and put an end to this unsavoury cycle.
I believe any brand has the duty – and means – to advance society and in the course of doing so, uplift the lives of those that contribute to the brand’s supply chain however far it spans. Since July 2018, Chopard’s ethical gold has been sourced from one of two traceable routes: artisanal mines participating in the Swiss Better Gold Association, Fairmined and Fairtrade schemes; and Responsible Jewellery Council Chain of Custody.
On the Small front, the 36mm Alpine Eagle Small pairs an Aletsch blue dial with a bezel festooned with diamonds. The overlapping of Lucent Steel A223 and diamonds results in an elegant creation capable of withstanding wear and tear. It is a bridge between the basic model and the ones that go all out with their iridescent mother-of-pearl dials and sleek gold cases. Akin to lacing up sneakers to go with the suit, this interpretation is presentable, hip, and not at all austere and god forbid banal. Sans dates, the Chopard 09.01-C automatic movement powering the watch although offers a lesser power reserve of 42 hours, it is COSC-certified.
(All images: Chopard)
This story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia’s December 2020 issue.