Back to the Future
Luxury watches embrace ’70s nostalgia and space-age glam.
Chopard’s Alpine Eagle gives sport watches an unexpected jolt of elegance.
ADMITTEDLY, I’VE BEEN slow to join the stainless-steel sport watch party. When I first started covering the luxury watch industry more than 20 years ago, Rolexes and Breitlings seemed familiar and ubiquitous, so it wasn’t all that exciting for me when there was an entirely new horological universe to discover and explore. As I upped my know-how, I dreamed of elegant and unobtainable moon phases, tourbillons, and minute repeaters, rather than the typical, sporty “boyfriend watches” that my peers were wearing.
But over the past decade or more, lifestyles and fashion became decidedly more casual, and complicated gold dress watches gave way to an unreasonable obsession with the stainless-steel sport watch. Rolex’s Daytona, GMT, and Submariner; Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak; and Patek Philippe’s Nautilus remain among the most coveted and hardest to get, and, consequently, sell on the secondary market at multiples of their suggested retail price.
As time passed, I eventually came around to the look of sport watches, and surprisingly found myself scouring pre-owned watch websites for vintage versions of more affordable variations on the theme. And yet, when it came time to seal the deal, I just couldn’t quite picture a beefy tool watch on my wrist.
Enter Chopard with the 2019 launch of the Alpine Eagle collection, which channels the spirit of a 1980s model called St. Moritz. That watch was created by none other than a 22-year-old Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, now co-president of the brand. So it’s only fitting that, reading the current market, his son Karl-Fritz suggested a reboot.
Chopard’s approach to the genre is refined, elegant, yet still sportif, in the best sense of the word. Let’s face it: I’m not exactly climbing mountains or scuba diving, so I hardly need a rugged beast for Pilates reformer classes or swimming in the local pool.
Like any fine watch, the telltale details are there — the beautiful finishing with alternating satin and polished surfaces, and an exceptional textured dial with a radiating pattern evoking the eye of its namesake eagle, now available in a fashionable shade of deep pine green. Even better, there’s a clear sapphire crystal case back, a requisite for any watch gearhead to admire Chopard’s chronometer-certified 01.01-C automatic movement.
But what you can’t see is that the Alpine Eagle is also sensitive to today’s sustainability concerns. The piece is available in the brand’s exclusive ultra-resistant and luminous Lucent Steel A223, which incorporates 70% recycled stainless steel, rating 223 Vickers on the hardness scale — meaning it’s harder and more scratchproof than those conventional steel action heroes. And for those inclined to splurge, the rose gold version is made with ethically sourced Fairmined gold.
Going even further, a portion of the proceeds of sales benefit the Alpine Eagle Foundation, co-founded by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. The organization, dedicated to preserving the Alpine region and its biodiversity, most recently enabled the reintroduction of the white-tailed eagle in the Lake Geneva region. So there’s a dose of goodwill to balance out the indulgence.
Laurie Kahle is a freelance writer who frequently covers watches, fashion, and luxury travel. A former editor at Robb Report, her work has been featured in Barron’s, Cigar Aficionado, Departures Intl., Hodinkee, and Centurion, among others.
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.
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