In 1980, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele was a youthful 22-year-old employed in his family’s Chopard manufacture when he submitted an idea to his father for a watch to be named St. Moritz. It was not only Karl-Friedrich’s very first watchmaking project, but it was also the first sports watch from the Maison and the first timepiece made of steel in its workshops. St. Moritz went on to become one of Chopard’s best-sellers for the next decade.
These days, Karl-Friedrich is the co-president of Chopard and had been working on an updated interpretation of his first creation – called Alpine Eagle. Apparently, Karl-Friedrich’s son Karl-Fritz was the main instigator of this project while being secretly supported by his grandfather Karl. At first, Karl-Friedrich was reluctant but was won over by his son’s persistence, just as he had been able to convince his father to take a bold step in a new diction nearly 40-years ago.
This time around, Karl-Friedrich drew inspiration from the Alps, and in particular, its resident eagle. For example, the rock-like textured dial with sunburst pattern evokes an eagle’s iris, while the seconds hands evoke its feathers. The glinting steel is reminiscent of the glaciers. The choice of dial colour refers to the shades found in the Alpine ranges: Aletsch Blue for the bluish shimmer of the largest glacier in the Swiss Alps; Bernina Grey for the rock of the mountain chain bearing this name; the Frosted White mother-of-pearl and Sils Grey of the Tahitian mother-of-pearl evoke the changing colour of Lake Sils near St. Moritz.
“Alpine Eagle is dedicated to contemporary eagles, the aspiring men who outperform in their daily lives and whose vision inspires and elevates. With foresight and determination, they act on the challenges of tomorrow and are innately aware of the importance of environmental issues.” – Chopard
In another parallel with the St Moritz collection, the Alpine Eagle collection also features a technical innovation from the brand’s manufacture: Lucent Steel A223 – “a new material that is as rich, precious and complex as gold.” The result of an innovative re-smelting process, this new alloy features three unique characteristics. First, thanks to its anti-allergenic composition, it has high dermo-compatible properties that make it comparable to surgical steel. Secondly, with its 223 Vickers’ strength, it is 50% more resistant to abrasion than conventional steels. Thirdly, it has a superior homogeneous crystal structure, enabling it to reflect light in a unique way. Like a diamond, whose brilliance depends on the lowest degree of impurities, this innovative steel has far fewer impurities than conventional steel, guaranteeing a brilliance and brightness comparable to that of gold.
According to the brand, “the industrialisation of this new alloy, which required no less than four years of research and development to produce, was a real challenge to manufacture to extremely strict specifications, significantly increasing its manufacturing time as well as wear and tear on machining tools. Lucent Steel A223 is now a rare and extraordinarily precious metal, stemming from a very complex development and manufacturing process.”
The collection comprises ten unisex references in two sizes. There are three references in the “Large” 41mm case size, all equipped with the Chopard chronometer-certified (COSC) 01.01-C mechanical movement with automatic winding. Two of the “Large” references are presented in the new Lucent Steel case and bracelet. Of these two, Ref. 298600-3001 features an Aletsch Blue brass dial, while Ref. 298600-3002 features a Bernina Grey brass dial; both with sunburst pattern. The third of these “Large” models, Ref. 298600-6001 is presented in a combination of Lucent Steel and 18-carat rose gold for the case and bracelet, while the dial is Bernina Grey brass with sunburst pattern.
There are seven references in the “Small” 36mm case size, all equipped with the Chopard chronometer-certified (COSC) 09.01-C mechanical movement with automatic winding. Two of these are in Lucent Steel with Ref. 298601-3001 featuring an Aletsch Blue brass sunburst dial, and Ref. 298601-3002 featuring a Frosted White mother-of-pearl dial and a diamond-set bezel. There are two “Small” references featuring a combination of Lucent Steel and 18-carat rose gold on the case and bracelet. Here, Ref. 298601-6001 has a Bernina Grey brass sunburst dial, and Ref. 298601-6002 has Frosted White mother-of-pearl dial and a diamond-set bezel.
The three remaining “Small” references are presented in 18-carat ethical rose gold case and bracelet: Ref. 295370-5001 features a Bernina Grey brass sunburst dial; Ref. 295370-5002 features a Frosted White textured mother-of-pearl dial and diamond-set bezel; Ref. 295370-5003 features a Sils Grey Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial along with diamond-set on the bezel and on the bracelet.
In all references, the bracelet gently tapers with a single ingot-shaped link and topped by a raised central cap. The case is distinguished by a protrusion protecting the crown which has a compass-rose engraved on it. The round bezel is punctuated by eight screws, grouped in pairs at the four points. The flat surfaces alternate between satin-brushed and high-polish, a finish carefully crafted to create light effects. The baton-type hours and minutes hands, like the hour-markers, are coated with Super-LumiNova Grade X1 to enhance nocturnal legibility, while the Rhodium-plated, arrow-tipped seconds hand has a counterweight shaped like an eagle’s feather.
The Large models are powered by the 01.01-C calibre with a 60-hour power reserve. The seven Small models host the 09.01-C calibre with a 42-hour power reserve. The latter is an 8-ligne movement and is one of the smallest to receive COSC certification. All references are water-resistant up to 100 metres.