It’s always notable when a brand like Chopard introduces an entirely new collection, but the new Alpine Eagle series, announced today, is particularly special: it revives for a modern audience the very first watch conceived by current Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, introduces a new, exclusive material to the watch industry, and even contributes to the environmental preservation of the Swiss Alps.
Back in 1980, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, then a 22-year-old employee at the watch-and-jewelry firm that his father acquired from the founding Chopard family, submitted an idea for a timepiece called the St. Moritz, which would be not only Chopard’s first sports watch but its first watch in steel. The St. Moritz became one of the company’s best sellers of the era, albeit eventually supplanted in Chopard’s sport-luxury lineup by the Mille Miglia collection that Scheufele established in 1996 upon ascending to the co-presidency of Chopard with his sister Caroline. In a case of family history repeating itself, it was Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s own son, Karl-Fritz, who suggested reviving the St. Moritz for a contemporary audience. The resulting collection was dubbed Alpine Eagle, channeling, according to Chopard, the Scheufele’s family’s “passion for the Alps and… the lofty power of the eagle that reigns supreme there.”
The watches draw immediate attention with their integrated case and bracelet, a design likely chosen to appeal to fans of sport-luxury classics like the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. They also feature aesthetic touches inspired by the majestic bird from which the series takes its name: a textured dial meant to evoke an eagle’s iris, a seconds-hand counterweight in the shape of a feather, and a multi-textured finish to the case that calls to mind the sun falling on snow-capped glaciers. The case, available in both 41-mm and 36-mm diameters, has protruding shoulders flanking the crown, which is engraved with a compass rose motif as a symbol of adventure and exploration. The round bezel is distinguished by eight visible screws, grouped in pairs at the four cardinal points (12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, all represented on the dial by Roman numeral appliqués), their slots carefully arranged to be tangent to the bezel’s circle. The bezel, and the cases other flat surfaces, are satin brushed and accented by the alternating polished finishes of the chamfers. The dial’s hands and applied indices are treated with Super-LumiNova Grade X1 for optimum nocturnal legibility. The bracelets consist of satin-brushed, ingot-shaped links topped by raised, polished central caps, and fasten the timepiece to the wrist with triple-folding clasps.
The steel-cased models in the Alpine Eagle collection — other models are available in gold, bi-material, and diamond-set gold — use a new alloy that Chopard introduces here for the first time in watchmaking, Lucent Steel A223. In research and development for four years, the material is the result of a re-smelting process that imparts a variety of notable characteristics. Like commonly used surgical steel, it is highly dermo-compatible but also has an enhanced hardness of 223 Vickers, higher abrasion resistance than traditional steels, and, due to its homogenous crystal structure, a purity that lends it a brilliance and brightness comparable to gold.
Both sizes of the Alpine Eagle are outfitted with in-house-made, chronometer-certified automatic movements. The 41-mm models contain the 01.01-C caliber, with a 25,200-vph frequency and a power reserve of 60 hours, while the 36-mm references have the 09.01-C, with the same frequency and a 42-hour power reserve. Measuring only 20.4 mm in diameter, the latter movement is one of the smallest to receive a chronometer certification from COSC, the official Swiss testing agency. These micromechanical engines are on display behind transparent sapphire windows in casebacks secured by eight screws in the same formation as those of the front bezel.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle collection offers three references in its 41-mm size: two in full Lucent Steel A223 with a blue or slate gray dial, a third in two-tone Lucent Steel and Chopard’s “ethical” rose gold with a slate gray dial. In its 36-mm iteration, seven references are available: in Lucent Steel with blue dial, or mother-of-pearl dial and diamond-set bezel; in Lucent Steel and ethical rose gold with slate gray dial, or mother-of-pearl dial and diamond-set bezel; and in all ethical gold with slate gray dial, mother of pearl dial with diamond-set bezel, or Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial with diamond-set bezel and bracelet.
Concurrently with the launch of the Alpine Eagle, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is announcing the formation of the Eagle Wings Foundation, a new environmental initiative of which the Chopard co-president, an avid hiking and skiing enthusiast, is a founding member. The mission of the Eagle Wings Foundation, according to Chopard, is “to raise awareness and galvanize the public with respect to the importance, beauty and fragility of Alpine biotopes.” The organization’s first project, the Alpine Eagle Race, in which participants can observe images of the Alps taken by cameras mounted on eagles, kicks off this month from five Alpine peak starting points and ending — appropriately enough, for Chopard and the ancestry of this new collection — in St. Moritz.