This feature has been produced in partnership with Chopard
When it was first introduced last year, the Chopard Alpine Eagle immediately caused a stir.
Not only was it an incredibly handsome watch that adroitly fused the heritage of the brand with the best of modern watchmaking – a perfect new addition to Chopard’s collection of fine timepieces – but it also fired a serious salvo right into the heart of some of the world’s most prominent watch brands.
Steel sports watches have never been more popular than in 2020. When you’re up against heavyweights of the watch world like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Vacheron Constantin Overseas, Patek Philippe Nautilus or the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo, you best bring your A-game, and that’s what Chopard did.
A year on from its groundbreaking release, Chopard have raised the stakes even further, by introducing the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono. And our take? It might just be the most beautiful sports watch on the market.
This is in no small way due to the unique Lucent Steel A223 the watch is crafted from, an innovative steel alloy developed by Chopard for its anti-allergenic properties, its robustness and its incomparable brilliance obtained through a meticulous recasting process – it shines like gold, without any of the weight or malleability.
DMARGE had the chance to chat with Chopard’s Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele and his son Karl-Fritz, who together designed the Alpine Eagle. For the pair, adding a chronograph complication to their creation was a no-brainer.
“Chronographs are the ultimate expression of mechanical watches. They’re a real delicacy when it comes to watchmaking – like a 12-cylinder engine,” Scheufele Snr related.
The automotive analogy suits the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono exceptionally well, its sleek, functional design evocative of a fine-tuned sports car. Karl-Friedrich is a noted car lover, responsible for cultivating Chopard’s long-standing partnership with the Mille Miglia rally as well as the Chopard chronograph that bears the famous race’s name.
The Mille Miglia wasn’t the only watch a young Karl-Friedrich added to Chopard’s stable. The Alpine Eagle owes a lot to the St. Moritz, another steel sports watch designed by Karl-Friedrich in 1980 that was groundbreaking at the time. Chopard had never made a watch quite like it before, and it was a runaway success. Indeed, the design of the St. Moritz heavily influenced the design of the Alpine Eagle.
That’s not the only parallel the two watches share. The St. Moritz was a collaboration between Karl-Friedrich and his father, and in turn the Alpine Eagle was a collaboration between Karl-Fritz and his father.
The pair related that intergenerational collaboration has been crucial to the success of the Chopard brand. Another key element of their modern success has been their focus on sustainability – something that Karl-Fritz is particularly passionate about.
“Younger generations are curious about watches, and the stories behind them. But we’re also demanding, and sustainability is very important too,” Scheufele Jnr explained.
Both Karl-Friedrich and Karl-Fritz Scheufele shared how the events of 2020 have accelerated the desirability and awareness of sustainability in watchmaking, noting that they’ve never had more questions from customers about their ethical gold program in particular.
This focus on sustainability is reflected in the Alpine Eagle’s trademark dial: a truly captivating pattern that evokes an eagle’s iris. Scheufele Snr, a keen mountaineer, was a founding member of the Eagle Wings Foundation, a charity that documents the impact of global warming on the Alps and works towards the reintroduction of the white-tailed eagle, the largest of the European eagles, which has disappeared from the Alps.
Furthermore, the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono’s dial is available with a unique colour that furthers this connection to sustainability: an azure hue named ‘Aletsch Blue’, named after the largest glacier in the Alps. It’s a brilliantly Swiss reference, but also emblematic of the brand’s concern about climate change: a reminder that the glacier is becoming smaller and smaller thanks to global warming, and how we must act fast to make sure we don’t just see the Alps on watch dials.
Speaking of dials, the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono’s might just have the best one in the business. It’s not only stunning but incredibly functional without being busy. Despite being a 44mm watch, it’s surprisingly compact on the wrist, thanks to a short lug height. The chronograph stoppers integrate flawlessly with the case – it feels like the Alpine Eagle was always designed as a chrono.
Every little bit of the watch feels intentional and well-considered, like a fine piece of jewellery. Its little touches, like the star-shaped Alpine Eagle motif that adorns the crown and caseback, which not only evokes a snowflake or compass rose, but also an edelweiss – yet another delightfully Swiss touch.
But the best feature of the watch might just be its bracelet. Elegantly designed, with a polished centre joint that shows off the lustre of its Lucent A223 steel, it’s what elevates the Alpine Eagle above its peers. The Alpine Eagle XL Chrono also comes in a two-tone style which pairs the steel with 18ct ethical rose gold – in the two-tone model, the polished steel highlights are replaced with gold for added luxury.
Both the two-tone and pure steel editions are fantastic, and both are sure to turn heads no matter what company you’re in. The two-tone is available only with a ‘Pitch Black’ dial (a colour that makes its debut on the XL Chrono), but the steel is also available with that aforementioned ‘Aletsch Blue’ treatment.
The hardest choice will be figuring out which one you want – but like an eagle, you better swoop in fast… These chronos won’t last for long.
On top of the new XL Chrono, Chopard have also added new additions to the Alpine Eagle range: two new full gold versions to the existing Large size, as well as a new Small size model in Lucent Steel with a diamond-set bezel.
But really, it doesn’t matter what flavour of Alpine Eagle you choose. They’re all delicious. Chopard are on to a winner with this bold new sports watch – forging a legacy that no doubt will endure for years to come.