Chopard Alpine Eagle: Fail

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Chopard Alpine Eagle dial

If you want the straight sh*t about a watch, learn to read between the lines. Hodinkee, Gear Patrol, A Blog to Watch, Quill & Pad, et al. are so deep in manufacturers’ pockets the writers risk lint suffocation. The mainstream horological press has to couch criticism carefully, lest they lose revenue, junkets and access to new models. Check out Quill &Pad’s take on the Chopard Alpine Eagle . . .

In all honesty, the Alpine Eagle doesn’t make it easy for itself with eight screws to secure the bezel and balancing the crown guard on the right by adding some extra metal on the left side. Especially in combination with an integrated bracelet and a blue dial, the brand is almost asking for comparison.

With all dishonesty, writer Martin Green is dancing around a simple fact: the $12,900 Chopard Alpine Eagle tried to replicate the success of the iconic, Gerald Genta designed Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (click here for the inside dope on their genesis and excellence). And failed.

Alpine Eagle

Unlike the less objectionable Bell & Ross BR-05, the Chopard Eagle is not so gently Genta. Chopard’s homage (to be generous) is an overwrought affair with a jarring date window and eight poorly-spaced screws. Everything’s there, but there’s no there there. Houston, the Eagle has not landed.

So it’s no surprise that Mr. Martin gives the Eagle’s dial color and finish a quick thumbs-up before moving on. “Is it all about the bracelet?” a sub-head asks, sending up a [barely disguised] red flag.

The other aspect that makes this watch stand out is the steel of which its case and bracelet are made. Chopard, which has its own forge for gold alloys, developed it in-house and named it Lucent Steel A223. It took them four years to develop and it is ethically produced, much in the same mindset as the Fairmined gold. This is quite an accomplishment as well as a substantial commitment.

Chopard Alpine Eagle bracelet

While this new type of steel is non-allergenic like surgical steel, it does come with two additional advantages. First, it is 50 percent harder than many other steels, which is a good thing when you are making a high-end sports-like watch.

You notice this when wearing it because I noticed it being less prone to scratching. The other advantage is the way it looks and reflects light when finished. Chopard calls this “ethereal incandescence,” and how right that description is!

Ethereal as in “lacking material substance: immaterial, intangible”? Nope, that’s just me being snarky. But while I’m at it, did Mr. Martin purposefully attempt to scratch the Eagle’s bracelet to test its resistance? I think not.

Eagle's feather-inspired second hand

I’d like a better description of “ethically produced” steel – one of the watch’s main PR points. Meanwhile, bracelet schmacelet. What about Chopard shaping the Eagle’s second hand like an eagle’s feather? And what of the crown? You gotta love Chopard’s metaphorical stretch, trying to link it to the watch’s PC Eagle’s Nest theme.

Crowning achievement

Evoking a spirit of adventure, the crown is engraved with a compass rose, an instrument that has helped adventurers find their way since ancient times. Today, it becomes the emblem of contemporary eagles capable of choosing the right direction in the pursuit of their destiny, an invitation to explore the majesty of the natural world that surrounds us.

Did someone tell the contemporary eagles they have a new emblem? And while they’re at, please inform Mr. Martin that he’s going to have to work harder to hide his true feelings about the Chopard Alpine Eagle.

Alpine Eagle B&W

In all honesty, I seriously doubt if people who are in the market for a Patek Philippe Nautilus or an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak will even consider anything else. For people who are looking for something different, though, the Alpine Eagle might be right up their alleys.

Alpine Eagle movement

While the Alpine Eagle doesn’t come cheap, its price is justified. In part because of its chronometer-certified manufacture movement, but more so because of its amazing dial and ethically produced Lucent Steel A223.

In all honesty, no. The Chopard Alpine Eagle is a swing-and-a-miss. A big whiff. Unless you read uncensored comments sections and forums, please remember: you heard it here first.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Your writing is missing three words and they are – in my opinion. Because opinionated this piece of writing certainly is. I’m not in the market for a tree or submarine as I don’t find them very attractive to look at, I happen to like roman numerals, a textured dial and a long power reserve and in my opinion this watch is very well done and design wise an improvement on those jaded icons of the past. What you call “Chopard’s metaphorical stretch” is actually creativity. Something those other brands you mention have been sorely lacking in. This watch has a more elegant design than either of those oldies you seem to be stuck on.

      • Yes, as stated, in my comment.

        How is Chopard’s product any more “overwrought” than the Royal oak or Nautilus? Your opinion.
        Why are the screws “poorly – placed”? Your opinion. Are they better designed than the icons you refer to? How so? Is there any real nautical, ship, submarine or historical connection ( Other than the designer seeing a diver’s helmet) behind those watches, that makes them more valid than a watch inspired by an Eagle’s feather/ eye? I really wonder.

        You are correct about this watch being for those who are “looking for something else”.
        Quite a lot of people.

        • Overwrought – too elaborate or complicated in design or construction.

          In my opinion, the Eagle is a pastiche of competing design elements: misaligned and quad-grouped case screws that draw the eye away from the dial, evoke the Nautilus and destroy symmetry; a brushed steel bezel whose surface texture competes with the dial’s sun-ray finish, and a large date window sandwiched in between jumbo, in-yer-face Roman numerals.

          The Nautilus’ diving bell inspiration is metaphorical. Genta’s design – at least in its original form – has a subtle, coherent, maritime gestalt. The Eagle doesn’t evoke an Eagle, it plucks the tail off the bird, puts it on the dial and says “See? Eagle!” And I’m just not seeing “Alpine” in those Roman numerals. Or that color.

          TTAW welcomes contrary opinions. If you want to write a defense of this watch (including some pics), I’ll publish it and promise not to comment beneath it.

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