The year was 1972, just a couple of years after the quartz crisis, during which Japanese ingenuity with the introduction of the more precise, high-beat quartz movement caused Swiss watchmakers to shelve their mechanically operated timepieces. Hence in recognition for a more robust sense of wearing watches, where style could take equal standing with function, luxury steel sport watches made their entrance. It was in pursuit of the same idea: a full metal watch with a clean legible dial; an attempt to bring mechanical movements back into the market.
Until today, the steel sports watch is a coveted silhouette, and the years in between have seen almost every Swiss manufacture create their own interpretation of the staple. For Chopard, it was in 1980 when it inserted itself into the timeline, with the introduction of the St. Moritz.
It was a vision set in motion from the mind of then 22-year-old Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. Right off the bat, the collection carried two-toned and full precious metal versions, with framed bezels and complete with a bracelet to match.
The advertising campaigns focused on them as watches that were suitable to be worn for sports, whether on or off the pitch. From golf to skiing to tennis, the watches were marketed as a sporting collective, featuring white and colored dials with a date aperture, and some accented with diamonds for the ladies’ versions.
An advertisement for the St. Mortiz in the 80s.
It’s worth mentioning that the stylistic and functional demeanor of steel watches wasn’t love at first sight. Watches of that era were generally slim and minimalistic, being suitable accompaniments to fit under a man’s French cuff.
The addition of framed bezels and weighty bracelets took their time to be accepted, so when Karl-Friedrich presented the St. Moritz for Chopard, it was a first for the manufacture to adopt its own sports watch, which was a slight deviation from its gilded and diamond-adorned dress watch specialties.
Thus, almost 30 years on, the spirit of the St. Moritz takes on a new form – the Chopard Alpine Eagle.
A New Body
With an integrated case and bracelet, the Alpine Eagle takes after the St. Mortiz in a similar physical exoskeleton, albeit with more modern finesse. Available in two sizes, 36mm and 41mm, the revived sports collection is designed with a thickly framed bezel, with eight visible screws that aid in sealing it in for increased water resistance.
Time is easily read off a Roman numeral chapter ring in bold appliques, and displayed against coloured brass dials with unique finishes. A rough sunburst motif is adopted on galvanic blue and slate grey dials, a detailing inspired by the iris of an eagle’s eye. The 36mm size is expanded to include versions with white and Tahitian mother-of-pearl.
The Alpine Eagle with Super-LumiNova® Grade X1
The 36mm lineup is extended with mother-of-pearl dials, and diamond-set bezels.
As for structure, the three-link construction is condensed, made up of a small middle link that runs down the middle. When worn, the watch carries noticeable weight, both visually and physically, in either version of 18k rose gold or Lucent Steel A223.
The latter material is Chopard’s proprietary metal, an alloy that was the result of four years of research and development. Standard steel undergoes a re-smelting process to acquire the desired characteristics of increased strength (223 Vickers’ strength), high dermo-compatibility, and a highly reflective surface that gives off a sheen that is said to be as bright as gold.
Powering the 41mm Alpine Eagle is a new in-house 01.01-C automatic winding caliber, with the provision of a 60-hour power reserve, while the 36mm version is fitted with an 8-ligne 09.01-C caliber, making it one of the smallest COSC-certified movements.
It is no secret that the Scheufele family is a large advocate for nature. Karl-Friedrich, co-president of Chopard and lead for the men’s collections, has a personal passion with a particular landscape he owns near Bordeaux. He runs his own winery that practices biodynamic agriculture, and relates its organic production to the creation of timepieces – patience, flexibility, and focus.
Making up the other half of Chopard’s presidency team is his sister Ms. Caroline Scheufele, artistic head of the ladies’ watches and jewellery lines, who materialised the idea of ethical jewellery with the debut of the ‘Green Carpet Collection’ at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The pursuit of creating jewellery through sustainable approaches encompasses social, environmental and ethical standards, resulting in products that are not just precious, but also extremely wholesome.
Karl, Karl-Friedrich & Karl-Fritz Scheufele.
Hence as with his other artisanal hobbies, Karl-Friedrich’s initiative to launch the Alpine Eagle collection was based off his genuine admiration for the outdoors, where his preferred activities include skiing and hiking in the Swiss Alps, in his home of native Switzerland. In line with exercising sustainable practices, he founded the Eagle Wings Foundation, a multidisciplinary environmental project that seeks to support and educate the public on the vulnerability of the Alpine biotopes. To commemorate the new collection, the foundation will host the first Alpine Eagle Race, a pictorial mission where a camera will be deployed on an eagle to capture five Alpine peaks throughout Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Switzerland, before concluding in St. Moritz, to pay homage to Chopard’s first sports watch.