The official Chopard press release states that this new model is a reinterpretation the St Moritz piece, launched in 1980 and created by Karl-Friedrich Scheafele, now co-president of the Maison. There are certainly similarities, both being basically steel sports watches and having exposed screw heads around the bezel. From a personal point of view I am not overly keen on the original bezel shape, which is rather lumpy with each bulge incorporating a screw. Happily, the passage of time and a fresh pair of eyes (possibly Karl-Fritz, Karl-Friedrich’s son) make the Alpine Eagle a more aesthetically appealing proposition – to me anyway!
When I saw the first images I must admit that, whilst not unattractive, I was not exactly “wowed”. There are of course a plethora of broadly similar sports type watches out there currently, and a few even with the exposed screw feature – Audemars Piguet and Hublot being the main exponents. Accompanying the press release images was some pretty detailed copy noting the genesis of the watch and the technical specifications. Although the former could be viewed as a little self-indulgent, it at least firmly states where the designer took his cues from (the Swiss Alps and the Alpine Eagle since you ask) and more specifically the slate grey colour of the rocks and the iris pattern from the bird’s eye.
So, what do we have? Well, a functional and readable dial with just time and date, with Roman numerals at the quarter points, a sturdy case (in two sizes, 36mm and 41mm) and triple folding bracelet using a newly formulated partially recycled stainless steel (called Lucent Steel A223). A top quality in-house COSC automatic movement. In fact there are two available movements – 01.01-C calibre in the 41mm case which boasts a very decent 60 hour power reserve, and 09.01-C calibre in the 36mm case with an average 42 hour power reserve. Water resistance is to 100 meters. Sapphire crystal is used fore and aft, the latter revealing the workings. Lastly, and which I feel is the tour de force, is that dial finish Now, frankly I have never got close enough to any bird to study their iris – let alone an eagle, but will defer to Chopard’s designers over accuracy!
The watch has been launched with initially 10 variants. The 41mm case has three, covering steel with blue or slate grey dials, along with a bi-metal with gold and slate grey dial. The 36mm case has seven types – covering a couple of the 41mm combinations (steel/blue dial and bi-metal and slate dial), plus mother-of-pearl dial and diamond bezel options in steel, bi-metal or all gold versions. Most of these are clearly aimed at the female wrist, but overall it would seem that there is something for everyone!
Up to this point I had not seen the watch in person, but was keen to do so as the whole “package” was an interesting one. For me it made a nice change as I was only really familiar with Chopard’s men’s watches and in particular their Mille Miglia chronograph pieces. As such I made it my business to call into the Bond Street boutique where I met Vanna Barca the VIP Manager. I explained why I was darkening their doorway – mainly to study, take some pictures and write, but also to seriously see if one may become an addition to The Writer’s collection! Vanna was amenable to all this and provided me with two 41mm versions – steel with the slate dial (ref 298600-3002) and bi-metal gold with the same dial (ref 298600-6001)
As I have said on many occasions, an expensive watch – well any watch really I suppose, absolutely needs to be worn, hefted and peered at to draw any meaningful conclusions. This was so in this case as I now did get the “wow” factor. The watch wears comfortably and looks great on the wrist. It also exudes quality – not surprisingly I guess as these are after all expensive pieces.
The steel and slate grey combination works very well although some may find it a little austere. The bi-metal gold version on the other hand brings some colour and dressiness to the bezel and bracelet and hands, and again, that slate dial just works.
In conclusion, I like the watch a lot. There is something honest about it – what you see is what you get. The overall package works – the right width (for me) at 41mm, reasonably thin at 9.7mm, attractive case and bracelet, lovely dial with a some nice touches (e.g. the counterweight of the second hand is shaped like a feather) and finally a good in-house movement with decent power reserve. Also, Chopard has made efforts to be a little “green” plus help protect endangered creatures in the Alps – like the eagle. So, no gripes? Well, if I am being picky, I would probably lose the Roman numerals and just have markers. To me they are just not necessary and do rather dominate the quarters. Would I buy one? Probably – I think the slate iris dial works best (over the blue one say), however, I am somewhat torn over which one. That may simply come down to wallet contents!
Prices UK: Steel – £11,200. Bi-metal – £17,200