If you’re reading HODINKEE, there’s an excellent chance that you already know stainless steel sport watches on integrated bracelets are a thing. Chances are you also know that in the past few years, a number of new entries have joined a crowded field of watches that, although they have new designs, employ an aesthetic code originating in the 1970s. By and large, a trio of brands that happen to overlap with what some call the holy trinity of Swiss watchmaking are at the center of this cult of retro-styled, braceleted watches.
Last year, a major independent, family-owned Swiss watchmaker joined the ranks of brands that make this type of watch, offering high-quality in-house movements, impressive ergonomics, and a design seemingly intended to scratch an itch that everyone knew existed while managing to stand out, in large part thanks to some striking dials. I’m talking about the Chopard Alpine Eagle. (To be fair, it’s much better to say that Chopard rejoined these ranks. The watch it launched in 2019 is, in fact, part of a lineage that began with the St. Moritz, a sporty and stylish watch that the company came out with at the dawn of the 1980s.)
The Chopard Alpine Eagle collection is Chopard’s interpretation of the luxury sports watch, a genre that has never waned since it hit the market in 1972. Presented in 2019 in time-and-date and time-only models, the Alpine Eagle collection strengthens its sports credentials with the arrival of this new 44mm automatic flyback chronograph. Beating at the heart of the three new models is Chopard’s column-wheel chronograph movement with an autonomy of 60 hours and COSC certification. The new Alpine Eagle XL Chrono is available in Lucent steel cases with blue or black dials, or in a two-tone ethical rose gold and steel version with a black dial. And we take a look at it, on the wrist. With the advent of Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak in 1972, practically every watchmaker worth his salt has dabbled in this category. Chopard’s take on the luxury sports watch occurred long before the appearance of the Alpine Eagle. Designed by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele in 1980, Chopard’s first luxury sports watch was the St. Moritz. A successful model that captured the over-the-top bling of the 1980s, complete with a very elaborate-shaped bezel with eight screws, the St. Moritz was eventually discontinued. Although there are plenty of sporty watches associated with the world of classic car racing (Mille Miglia, for example), a steel sports watch with an integrated bracelet and strong design was missing in the brand’s portfolio.
Cutting straight to the chase: upon its debut we explained in great detail why the Chopard Alpine Eagle ranks among the best value propositions in the otherwise wilfully non-value-oriented luxury steel sports watch segment. A year later, we see the Alpine Eagle collection expand with the Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono that, you guessed it, is a larger, chronograph-equipped, more expensive version for those who want a larger, more complicated, and perhaps yet more expensive-looking Alpine Eagle. From day one, the case and bracelet finishing of the Alpine Eagle has been easily on par with the waiting list champions such as the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak… And that’s before we mentioned the genuinely incredible Lucent Steel A223 that Chopard developed to help its newbie pack one unexpected punch right upon entering this arena of bare-fisted steel luxuriousness.