‘Tis the season for integrated sports watches, and Chopard has been in the thick of it since 2019. The brand’s Alpine Eagle sports watch landed three years ago in catalogues and has never looked back. What began as a time-and-date-only model – inspired by the evocative St. Moritz sports watch from the 1980s – eventually grew into a full-fledged collection comprising models of various materials and functionality. Some of the most recent, eye-catching additions to the line include the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono in rose gold and ceramised titanium, and the Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF in titanium that beats at 8 Hz.
Chopard Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon
In 2022, another Alpine Eagle timepiece joins the eyrie, bringing with it two major firsts for the collection: the tourbillon, and the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva. It also features a new dial design to complement its tourbillon display. Topping the technical virtuosity of the Cadence 8HF from last was never going to be an easy task, but Chopard have rose to the challenge. Here, we give you the details and our honest thoughts of the new Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The case design of the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon is unchanged relative to previous models from the collection. Currently only available in proprietary Lucent Steel A223, it features the same round bezel with screws, as well as the two signature “ears” on either flanks. The same goes for the three-link bracelet, which is still as charming as ever with its beveled edges and polished centre link. What has changed, though, are proportions. The Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon measures 41.00 mm in diameter like the Cadence 8HF before it and the seminal date-only model, but it has a height of only 8.00 mm. In spite of having to fit a tourbillon regulator, the watch is a whole 1.70 mm thinner than the original date-only Alpine Eagle. At the same time – and quite discreetly – the bezel of the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon has become thinner, allowing for more dial real estate.
The dial, stamped to resemble an eagle’s iris, is an eye-catcher as always. Just like in the base and chronograph models, the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon reprises the Aletsch blue colour for its dial. This time, however, the familiar spiral of the dial doesn’t emanate from the centre, but from the tourbillon aperture at 6 o’clock. This change might be minor in the grand scheme of things, but the dial certainly looks much more pleasing this way than if the patterns were to emerge from the pinion. While the spiraling dial is usually what grabs all the attention on the Alpine Eagle, this time the honour is shared with the flying tourbillon display. Other elements on the dial such as the Roman numeral/baton hour markers, as well as the stick hands, retain the same design passed down from the original model. They are all coated with luminescent material for low- or no-light visibility.
Driving the new Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon is the familiar, 25-jewel Calibre L.U.C 96.24-L. This is the same automatic movement fitted into the 2019 L.U.C Flying T Twin, Chopard’s first flying tourbillon wristwatch. It bears mentioning, however, that there is a small, purely cosmetic alteration to the design of the tourbillon cage specifically for the Alpine Eagle model. Where the cage was previously skinny and elegant, it is now made bolder, resembling a 3-pointed shuriken or sheriff’s badge. This is done likely to complement the sportier nature of the Alpine Eagle. Everything else remains unchanged, including the 65-hour power reserve courtesy of twin stacked barrels. The movement, a descendant of the Calibre L.U.C 96.01-L (the very first L.U.C movement), is only 3.30 mm thick and even boasts hacking seconds functionality – a rarity amongst tourbillon watches. The fact that it is COSC chronometre-certified is the icing on the cake.
While there is no doubt that the Calibre L.U.C 96.24-L is technically impressive, its form is nothing to be scoffed at either. Stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva, the movement is excellently finished and worthy of haute horlogerie. Visible through the sapphire crystal case back are Geneva waves across the bridges, edges that have been beveled, polished screw heads, perlage across the base plate, and a 22k gold micro-rotor stamped with a sunray pattern and the L.U.C logo.
The Competitive Landscape
Not everything makes sense in high horology today. The tourbillon and the sports watch as a combination, for example, is suspect given that sports watches are more likely to be subjected to shock. In the pursuit of precision and accuracy, minimising the effects of shock on the escapement of a sports watch would perhaps be more fruitful than, say, fitting it with a sensitive tourbillon regulator. If we’re going to nitpick further, the tourbillon doesn’t (usually) do much good either in a wristwatch apart from raising its selling price. The good news is it doesn’t really matter what’s sensible and what’s not. If there is demand, it shall be built – and the tourbillon will always be one of the most admired technical complications in watchmaking. Combine it with the in-thing of the decade – the integrated sports watch – and it becomes a no-brainer. The Chopard Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon is one of only a handful of tourbillon sports watches that is truly haute horlogerie. Having ticked off a date and a chronograph model, Chopard knew that the tourbillon was the logical next step. It would’ve been extra special had the brand manufactured a new movement for the piece, but when you already have a recently developed, Geneva Seal-stamped tourbillon movement in the Calibre L.U.C 96.24-L, it is probably more cost-efficient to use that instead. The Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon is priced at USD112,000 and is a regular production model.
One formidable competitor to the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon in the ever-growing sports watch market is the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon in stainless steel. The two watches share many similarities: both are crafted in steel, fitted with a blue dial, feature a tourbillon at 6 o’clock, and boast a Geneva Seal movement. But there are also enough differences to discern the two – the Overseas Tourbillon is larger in both diameter and thickness; has a smooth, lacquered dial; a regular, bridged tourbillon; and is wound by a peripheral rotor. The Overseas Tourbillon was priced at SGD159,000 (or about USD114,000) at its debut in 2019, putting it close to the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon in price.
If you’re into independents, look no further than Laurent Ferrier. Not many watchmakers choose to dabble in a tourbillon movement in their first foray into sports watches, but Laurent Ferrier has done exactly that. The end product, as you’d expect, is elegant and incredibly well-finished. Compared to the Alpine Eagle and Overseas, the Calibre LF619.01 that drives the Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport is anointed with a more modern style of finish which we feel is highly appropriate in a sporty watch. The movement is a celebration of sharp anglage and black polishing, especially on the tourbillon. The key difference between the Tourbillon Grand Sport and the Alpine Eagle or Overseas is that the tourbillon is hidden at the back in the former, a boon for those who prefer discretion.
Between the brilliantly finished case and bracelet, and the Poinçon de Genève-certified chronometre movement, there is plenty to love about the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon. Chopard shows yet again that it can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the biggest players in the game. The sky is the limit for the Alpine Eagle, especially if the brand is willing to migrate some of their best movements from the L.U.C line. Odds are, it’s only a matter of time until we see a perpetual calendar or world timer in an Alpine Eagle case, two popular complications for sports watches.