Chopard Revisits ’80s Fashion With Alpine Eagle
By Laurie Kahle Oct. 1, 2019
Preserved are the original’s integrated case and bracelet, formed by satin-brushed steel ingot-shaped links, each topped with a raised central cap. Chopard
In watches, as in fashion, everything old is new again, but not quite the same. For years, as retro has reigned, watch brands have mined their archives looking for vintage models they can resurrect with tweaks for contemporary tastes and cutting-edge movement technology.
The vintage look has been so dominant in the watch market that the two most unattainable watches today—Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak and Patek Philippe’s Nautilus—were designed in the 1970s by the legendary Gerald Genta. Consequently, a number of brands have jumped on board the speeding steel sport watch train with new versions of past models, such as Girard-Perregaux’s Laureato, Vacheron Constantin ’s Overseas, and IWC’s Ingenieur.
In this spirit, Chopard reincarnates its 1980s St. Moritz in today’s Alpine Eagle. And like with resurrected ’80s fashions on the runways, the aesthetic may hit or miss depending on your taste level.
Preserved are the original’s integrated case and bracelet, formed by satin-brushed steel ingot-shaped links, each topped with a raised central cap. The case protrudes around the crown, which is engraved with a compass rose in a nod to bygone adventurers.
While the vertical satin-brushed bezel has been streamlined into a timeless round shape, the four pairs of visible screws at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock hearken back to its ancestor. More than mere decoration, the screws serve a technical purpose in guaranteeing water resistance down to 100 meters.
Notably, the blue and slate gray dials have a distinctive, swirling sunray pattern intended to evoke the texture of a granite boulder or striations in the iris of the watch’s namesake raptor, which is also alluded to on the central seconds hand with a counterweight shaped like an eagle feather.
Chopard launched the new collection with 10 different versions in steel, gold, mixed metal, and diamond-set gold in 41mm and 36mm diameters, broadening its unisex appeal. The dials offer a choice of galvanic blue or grey, white mother-of-pearl, or Tahitian mother-of-pearl. Prices for the collection range from US$10,100 for the 36mm size with a blue dial, up to US$45,200 for a rose gold version with a gray Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial.
Like most modern remakes, Alpine Eagle incorporates state-of-the-art features for enhanced performance. For its next-generation sport watch, conventional stainless steel would not do, so Chopard spent four years of R&D to industrialize a new steel alloy dubbed Lucent Steel A223.
The material is the product of a re-smelting process that incorporates recycled steel, producing an alloy that is extremely hard at 223 Vickers, making it 50%more resistant to scratches than conventional steel, while also endowing it with white-gold-like brightness and brilliance thanks to the double smelting process that reduces impurities.
For the watches’ automatic engines, which are showcased through sapphire crystal case backs, Chopard chose its 01.01-C calibre with a 60-hour power reserve for the 41mm model and the 09.01-C calibre with a 42-hour power reserve for the 36mm version. The latter is a slim 8-ligne movement that is one of the smallest to qualify for COSC certification.
The American Eagle project itself echoes what had come before. In 1980, St. Moritz was the brainchild of then 22-year-old Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, who worked to convince his father Karl to produce his bold new design that represented a break from the past. Not only was St. Moritz the company’s first sport watch, it was also its first steel watch.
“I had the conviction and the idea to introduce a chic and versatile, sporty looking watch for Chopard, which would fit the lifestyle of St. Moritz,” says Scheufele, who is co-president of the brand with his sister Caroline, in a news release. “For the first time ever, we treated steel as if it were gold. It would be totally something different to what we have done so far. So it was obviously a daring move.”
Forty years on, Karl-Friedrich’s son Karl Fritz, with support from his grandfather Karl, convinced his reluctant father that it was time to revisit St. Moritz, which had been a bestseller for the brand during the eighties.
“It’s hard to invent something, but it’s even more difficult to reinterpret a great design,” Scheufele says. “The underlying principle for the design of the Alpine Eagle, and already of the St. Moritz…[is] form follows function. Every detail counts.”