Amidst sports watch mania that started years back, many new sports watches were suddenly thrust into the market for the first time, like bright-eyed starlets auditioning for Broadway. However, much like showbiz, only a handful would make it as the rest fade into obscurity. It’s not easy when the standards are set by superstars like the Patek Philippe Nautilus or the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Of the newcomers from recent years, the one that has shone the brightest (literally and figuratively) is, arguably, the Chopard Alpine Eagle sports watch. Introduced in 2019, the Alpine Eagle is Chopard’s answer to the Nautilus or Royal Oak. Chopard also took this opportunity to debut their new proprietary stainless steel called Lucent Steel A223. As its name suggests, the alloy is most prized for its lucent quality and is one of the main attractions of the Alpine Eagle.
Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS
Four years and many permutations later, the Chopard Alpine Eagle remains as prominent as ever. Not one to be outdone by itself, this year’s Alpine Eagle novelty is the best one yet in our opinion. Thinner and without a date window, Chopard’s latest Alpine Eagle is also equipped with a salmon dial. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that salmon is – for better or worse – all the rage in 2023. Here, we bring you the details and our honest thoughts on the Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The case of the Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS retains its original diameter of 41 mm, as indicated in its name. Its overall design is also unchanged, including the eight screws on the bezel and the crown engraved with a compass rose. What has changed though in this latest model is its height. Originally measuring 9.7 mm in thickness – which really isn’t thick for any mechanical watch – the new XPS model has an extra-thin case with an 8 mm height. It has also shed some width from the bezel, leading to a marginal increase in dial real estate. Crafted in the manufacturer’s proprietary Lucent Steel alloy, the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS has an ethereal sheen that is only outshone by its dial.
If the signature eagle iris design wasn’t captivating enough already, it now comes in a salmon hue that Chopard’s poetically christened “Monte Rosa Pink”. The iconic pairing of white metal and salmon dial in a wristwatch has historically been cherished by connoisseurs, but its popularity of late has increased exponentially to the point of bleeding into the mainstream. We’ve seen many novelties from this year alone riding this trend, but none have rode it quite as spectacularly as the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS. The Alpine Eagle’s swirling, textured dial pattern along with the novel Monte Rosa Pink hue are evidently more than just the sum of its parts. There really is nothing quite like it, but the novelty of the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS goes beyond the salmon dial (and the reduction in thickness). One other significant change that has been implemented is the removal of the date window. While the date window in the original version was integrated discreetly and tastefully, many will still be chuffed to see it gone. The lack of a date complication certainly helps to achieve the desired extra-thin profile, but importantly, it also keeps the dial clean. The change from central seconds to petite seconde was likely also a move to shave off height, but perhaps it would’ve been better to omit the seconds functionality altogether. While the execution of the seconds sub-dial is beautiful with its concentric guilloche pattern, one can’t help but imagine how glorious the dial would look completely undisrupted by displays. White gold appliques and hands round off an overall splendid showing by the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS.
Driving the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS is the new 176-part, 29-jewel L.U.C Calibre 96.40-L. The movement is based on the first calibre ever developed by the Chopard Manufacture, the esteemed Calibre 1.96. Thanks to the brand’s Twin Technology system that stacks two barrels coaxially, the Calibre 96.40-L has a respectable power reserve of 65 hours while operating at a modern 4 Hz frequency. Despite the stacked configuration of barrels, the movement remains delightfully thin, at only 3.3 mm in height. Every movement in the Alpine Eagle family is COSC chronometer-certified – the Calibre 96.40-L is no exception.
The Alpine Eagle 41 XPS is the only model sans tourbillon that features a Geneva Seal stamped movement in the Alpine Eagle collection. As it turns out, being a descendent of the legendary Calibre 1.96 all but guarantees the quality of finish. The most visually striking element of the movement is the 22K gold micro-rotor that features a radiating pattern and the L.U.C logo. Micro-rotors are often utilised in contemporary pieces as they do not obstruct the view of the movement through a sapphire crystal case back. Crucially, they do not add height to the movement, which is helpful in the creation of an extra-thin watch like the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS. It goes without saying that the other components of the Calibre 96.40-L are just as gorgeous, from the mirror-polished screw heads and jewel countersinks, to the beveled bridges decorated with Geneva waves and circular grained mainplate.
The Competitive Landscape
In a world where sports watches are a dime a dozen, you need to stand out if you’re gonna make it, which is precisely what the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS does well. Salmon dialed sports watches aren’t exactly a new phenomenon these days, but the combination of salmon dial and white metal bracelet remains highly desirable amongst the watch congnoscenti. The Alpine Eagle sports watch has always been remembered for its unique dial design and the ‘lucent steel’ that it’s often made off. With a thinner, more elegant case, a date-less dial, and a movement worthy of the Hallmark of Geneva, it is now better than ever. The Alpine Eagle 41 XPS is priced at EUR24,400 and will be a permanent addition to the Alpine Eagle collection.
As far as salmon-dialed sports watches are concerned, perhaps none are as prominent as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ Extra-Thin with salmon dial. Released in 2019, you could say that it played a significant role in starting the recent salmon dial craze. It goes without saying that the watch is long sold out, especially when only 75 pieces were made. The Royal Oak ‘Jumbo Extra-Thin with salmon dial was priced at USD55,400, if you could get your hands on one at the boutique. Its market value, though, is a whole other story.
If something indie is more to your taste, then feast your eyes upon H. Moser & Cie’s Streamliner in Smoked Salmon. Moser have never been one to shy away from a bit of fun when it comes to their watches; they are the makers of this cheese watch after all. Clearly, this one’s a take on the salmon dial hype that’s going on now. Instead of releasing a sports watch with a classical salmon dial themselves, Moser decided instead to add a twist. The new Streamliner does indeed have a salmon coloured dial, but it’s a lot more on the brown side than the orange-pink – almost as if the salmon has been (over)smoked. Moser have confirmed that the watch will only be produced for a year, so whilst it’s not “limited edition” per se, it is “limited production”. Priced at USD21,900 the watch with its neo-vintage vibe and excellent finissage will prove to be a strong competitor to Chopard’s Alpine Eagle.
Everyone and their mothers are doing a salmon-dialed watch these days, but some salmon-dialed watches are more outstanding than others. The Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS unabashedly asserts its presence with its bold dial design and lucent steel (roll credits) body. The Geneva Seal movement is an added bonus.