The Alpine Eagle collection of sporty-chic timepieces spreads its wings, welcoming for the first time a flyback chronograph in a new 44 mm diameter case. We present our hands-on review of the Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chronograph, with live photographs and prices.
Available in three versions – in Lucent Steel A223 with an Aletsch Blue or Absolute Black dial and a bi-material version combining Lucent Steel A223 and ethical rose gold with an Absolute Black dial – the Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono timepiece with integrated bracelet is, like the entire collection, very much inspired by the power of the eagle and the beauty of the Alps. Here is our review of the Alpine Eagle launch models:
Hands on review of the Chopard Alpine Eagle launch models
Four patents testifying to its accuracy and user-friendliness have been filed for the Chopard 03.05-C mechanical movement with automatic movement and flyback function. From movement to case and from dial to bracelet, Alpine Eagle XL Chrono timepieces are made entirely in Chopard’s watchmaking ateliers.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chronograph is priced at S$ 26,500 for the steel models, and S$ 37,000 for the bi-metal version.
The new Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chronograph
The case, dial and hands
The case for the two stainless steel models is forged in Lucent Steel A223, an innovative steel alloy developed by Chopard for its anti-allergenic properties, its robustness and its incomparable brilliance obtained through a meticulous recasting process. Lucent steel uses recycled steel for an ethical slant, and is more complicated and expensive to manufacture as a result. The third reference also offers a bi-material alternative with the additional use of 18-carat ethical rose gold for the bezel, crown and part of the bracelet.
Design-wise, the case is an angular tonneau shape, first defined by the launch models of the Alpine Eagle. The surfaces are alternately finished in a straight grained brush and high polish. The case body extends to form the lugs and the fitst link of the bracelet. This allows the head to integrate smoothly with the bracelet, with beautiful flowing lines, also observed in the automatic versions. The pushers are rectangular and faceted, and are nicely integrated to flow nicely from the sides into the crown guards. They operate as they should, and pressure to start, stop, flyback and reset are smooth, requiring a nice pressure with good positive feedback when activated.
The bezel is also of particular note, in that the visible screw heads (yes, it does remind us of those in the Royal Oak and various Hublots), are tangentially aligned, with the screw slots making an imaginary circle around the bezel. These screws are held in place by nuts which are locks the bezel to the case middle from the underside of the case. The bezel is straight grained and the screws are black polished.
The dials retain the eagle eye pattern used in the launch models. These are rather attractive and provides a texture to the surface. Markers are Superluminova in-filled bar markers, with the 12 marker as a Roman numeral. The hour, minute and small seconds hands are thick and baton shaped, with a fillet infilled with Superluminova. Chronograph hands are red tipped to indicate their function.
Though rather busy, the dial remains easy to read, with the key components being large and well placed. The design allow the time telling hands and their markers to come to the fore, and the chronograph counters are relegated to the background, though highly visible enough for the secondary task of counting the elapsed time of the chronograph.
Our pick from the models is the stainless steel version with the magnificent blue dial, but the two tone bi-metal version is certainly very attractive as well. The black dialed version in steel is very laid back and discreet, and perhaps might appeal to those who prefer a stealthy look.
The movement Chopard 03.05-C
The movement fitted is the Chopard designed and manufactured Caliber 03.05-C. This is not a new movement in the Chopard stable, having been pressed into service in the Mille Miglia XL 2016 Race Edition. The movement is not at the level of the Chopard L.U.C movements which are elaborated to meet haute horlogerie standards, but is well designed and executed.
Movement finishing is not exceptional, but rather is more than adequate for a good engineering level. All aspects important to the proper and reliable functioning and robustness are addressed very well. The plates are finished in a circular graining, and edges of the bridges are anglaged. Screw heads are polished.
The movement looks solid, and the chronograph start, stop, flyback and reset buttons operate smoothly with a good, even pressure to achieve activation. The chronograph works is not visible from the display caseback except for a porthole cut open on the plate to show the column wheel.
However, the movement is protected by 4 patents, as described by the Chopard press materials:
First of all, it is equipped with a unidirectional gearing system that prevents energy losses while ensuring rapid winding, a function much appreciated in the inherently energy-hungry chronograph category. In addition, its vertical clutch mode guarantees accurate time-measurement starts. This chronograph calibre is also of the flyback variety, enabling smooth successive timing operations thanks to three pivoting hammers with elastic arms facilitating zero-setting of the counters. Finally, the Chopard 03.05-C is equipped with a Variner ensuring that rate of the movement is stable by compensating for its variations in inertia throughout the watch’s lifetime.
These patents are not immediately obvious in our examination of the movement.
The competitive landscape
The competitive landscape of a luxury steel watch with integrated bracelet is already one which is already heavily populated by the other members of its time only relatives. From Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph 5990 (S$ 78,000) in SS but with the added complication of a second timezone, or the 5980 in steel and gold(S$92,800) and Aquanaut 5968(S$ 65.500).Also, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph (linked review is in yellow gold, but stainless steel versions at S$ 39,900 exist) to Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V (S$ 45,000) all have models in stainless steel, integrated bracelet armed with a chronograph movement. Indeed the Moser Streamliner launch model was a Flyback Chronograph (S$ 60,000) and only recently did Moser add a time only automatic model.
No doubt the other two competitors on our radar of luxury steel watches – the Lange Odysseus and the Bell & Ross BR 05 will soon be endowed with chronograph versions. This is pure speculation on our part, aided with only a hunch based on our experience with these two brands. But watch this space!
At S$ 26,500 for the steel versions, the Chopard Alpine Eagle Chronograph XL is well placed in terms of pricing, as the competitive landscape is littered with models ranging from S$ 39,000 (AP) to S$78,000 (PP).
The Alpine Eagle Chronograph XL tells a compelling story. The background story of father and son was told with the Alpine Eagle launch. As was the story of the inspiration of the Swiss Alps, nature and the eagle. The story remains true and strong.
But what is also compelling is the earnest work that has gone into the design and execution. The use of ethical materials like ethical gold and Lucent Steel A228 is noteworthy. The design is true to its spirit, and true to haute horlogerie principles – exclusive movement, well designed, well executed. The case, dial and hands which holds itself together, even under close scrutiny, and radiates with class and refinement. A face which is at once beautiful and classical, yet robust, strong and avant garde. And ultimately, the very reasonable asking price for a watch designed from ground up, and completely build in-house in Fleurier. All these speak volumes for Karl-Friedrich and and his son Karl-Fritz Schuefele – of their sincerity, of their focus and passion and of their moral uprightness.
Technical Details Alpine Eagle XL Chrono
in Lucent Steel A223 / Lucent Steel A223 and 18-carat ethical rose gold
Lucent Steel A223 / Lucent Steel A223 and 18-carat ethical rose gold
Total diameter 44.00 mm
Thickness 13.15 mm
Water resistance 100 metres
Crown in Lucent Steel A223 / 18-carat ethical rose gold with compass rose 8 mm
Pushers in Lucent Steel A223 / Lucent Steel A223
Vertical satin-brushed caseband with polished chamfers
Bezel in Lucent Steel A223 / Lucent Steel A223 and 18-carat ethical rose gold with eight screws set at a tangent
Glare-proofed sapphire crystal
Exhibition case-back with glare-proofed sapphire crystal
Mechanical movement with automatic winding Chopard 03.05-C
Number of components 310
Diameter 28.80 mm
Thickness 7.60 mm
Number of jewels 45
Frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve 60 hours
Flyback function – stop-seconds function
Openworked tungsten alloy rotor
Variner® balance with balance-spring featuring a flat terminal curve
Dial and hands
Brass dial stamped with an Aletsch Blue or Absolute Black / Absolute Black sunburst pattern achieved by galvanic treatment and inspired by the iris of the eagle
Applied numerals and hour-markers, rhodium-plated and enhanced with Grade X1 Super-LumiNova®
Aletsch Blue or Absolute Black chronograph counters with rhodium-plated rims
Baton-type hours and minutes hands, rhodium-plated and enhanced with Grade X1 Super-LumiNova®
Rhodium-plated arrow-type seconds hand with eagle feather counterweight
Rhodium-plated red-tipped chronograph counter hands
Central hours, minutes and chronograph seconds
Date between 4 and 5 o’clock
30-minute counter at 3 o’clock
12-hour counter at 9 o’clock
Small seconds at 6 o’clock
Bracelet and clasp
Tapering bracelet in Lucent Steel A223 / Lucent Steel A223 and 18-carat ethical rose gold, wide links with satin-bushed sides and polished central cap
Triple folding clasp in Lucent Steel A223 / Lucent Steel A223 and 18-carat ethical rose gold
Ref. 298609-3001 – in Lucent Steel A223 with Aletsch Blue dial
Ref. 298609-3002 – in Lucent Steel A223 with Absolute Black dial
Ref. 298609-6001 – in Lucent Steel A223 and 18-carat ethical rose gold with Absolute Black dial