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Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The biggest trend in the luxury watch industry today is producing items that look like watches that brands feel the market wants to buy. In some fundamental ways, this is a reversal from a more traditional (if nostalgic) approach to designing for a market in which a brand aims to put unique (i.e., distinctive) wristwatch products on the market (as opposed to those that feel too familiar). Nowadays, if a style, material, color, or price point seems hot, the biggest brands want their piece of the supposed action. Today, premium brand steel or mostly-steel watches that comes in integrated bracelets are hot. Chopard’s answer to this craze is the Alpine Eagle. In summary, it is a handsome, well-made, appropriately priced, and too vaguely branded luxury wristwatch for daily wear.

Chopard has every right to enter the contemporary bracelet watch arena with a brand new product (that is meant to look like an older product). Chopard comes to the plate with its Geneva-based pedigree, legitimacy through its luxury sport watch and haute horology L.U.C collections, and sex appeal through its various celebrity relationships and success with women’s jewelry. Consumers should not feel at all strange about a product from this brand competing in a space that also includes the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilus, Rolex Submariner (yes), and some upcoming newer contenders each with their own “bracelet watches.”

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Making the decision to produce a luxury “sports” watch in steel (though in this review I look at the two-tone Alpine Eagle in Lucent Steel and 18k rose gold) is just half the battle, as Chopard also needed to decide what it was going to look like. Chopard was nice enough to have aBlogtoWatch launch the new Alpine Eagle watch collection here. In that article, our David Bredan explains in thorough detail all about the Alpine Eagle and its design inspiration, which was a vintage bracelet watch Chopard produced known as the St. Mortiz. David’s article is where you should learn about the background of this watch, as well as its more intimate technical details. This Chopard Alpine Eagle watch review is my assessment of its larger desirability and its positioning in the space of competing products.

I wore the two-tone Alpine Eagle for a decent time but then waited some time to type up the review. When this happens, it means that I am not quite sure how to best sum up my experience with a watch, especially if I’ve had a positive experience with a known controversial product. Is the Alpine Eagle controversial? No more than any other new high-end luxury watch is, but it is the most important Chopard release of 2019, and probably a platform the company will continue to invest it for at least five to 10 years (at least, I hope). People who don’t like the Alpine Eagle have one major problem with it, and that is they feel it looks too much like the Royal Oak or other similar watches. That is it. People aren’t concerned about pricing or quality; their sole gripe with the Alpine Eagle is that it looks a bit too much like another popular watch. I’m not even sure most consumers see that as a bad thing.

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Let’s look at this in a light that is the most favorable to Chopard — because the logic makes sense. First, let’s begin with an important rule in the luxury watch industry (and other “design” industries): Original and creative designs are almost universally shunned at first or criticized because they are new. Familiar designs are, by definition, much less creative but are more readily accepted by consumers. This is a hard and fast rule. What can happen is that, with some time in the market, a novel design may become eventually adopted if it ends up being a good design — that is after time has tested it. Not all novel designs become classics, but all good novel designs have the potential to become classic if they are around long enough. In the world of design, while a simplification, this is a good rule.

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Chopard, in this scenario, had the option of making a totally novel watch called the Alpine Eagle and design it to look like nothing else ever made before. By doing this, they might have critics celebrating the enduring elegance of their watches 10 years from now and have an uphill battle to climb with deservedly stubborn luxury watch consumers for the first few years. Option two is for Chopard to say, “We know we want to get into bracelet watches, but we also don’t want to wait years before making a profit. Let’s produce something that fits into market expectations and themes and see how it goes. If it is successful, then, with each future iteration we improve it and make it more distinctive.” Such remarks may very well be how Chopard’s managers are thinking, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. As I said, the Alpine Eagle is a well-made product. So they did succeed on many levels.

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Also, I want to put “design originality” into some context. It is extremely easy for people to claim that so and so copied Gerald Genta, and that such and such watch model is simply trying to look like a Royal Oak. If you look back at many bracelet watches from the 1970 and 1980s, they looked alike back then, as well. Perhaps there simply were not that many practical ways to produce a timepiece with an integrated bracelet. You might feel that the Alpine Eagle looks too much like a Royal Oak. You’d be right that there is a resemblance, but that same resemblance is in the Chopard St. Moritz and countless other watches from that era.

For the rest of the Alpine Eagle, Chopard simply took a cross-section of various manufacturing techniques at their disposal, along with some of their brand’s visual DNA, and tried to marry horology and jewelry polishing into a single satisfying product. What items in the “bracelet watch” category all have in common are a lot of shiny surfaces. Accordingly, the Alpine Eagle’s contrasting polished and brushed surfaces are mostly flat, which helps them play nicely with the light. The noticeable amount of light sparkle you want from a luxury timepiece is certainly part of the Alpine Eagle experience.

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Chopard certainly lacked more than one opportunity to be original with the Alpine Eagle. There is nothing in the bracelet watch rule book that says you must have screws in the bezel or that you must have side flanks. Alas, the Alpine Eagle has both of those. They are certainly well done (and the screws all line up properly) but they feel forced. I know that the original St. Mortiz watch had bezel screws, as well, but I’m just saying that since this design feature is used so often, it pays for a brand to do them in an extra-original manner to stand out.

The 41mm-wide case (a 36mm-wide model for women is also available) is a good all-purpose size, and the case also manages to be under 10mm-thick (with 100 meters of water resistance), which allows for a slim wrist profile. I will say that the bezel (here in 18k rose gold) seems like a bit of a scratch magnet (especially due to the brushed finishing). Aesthetically, it looks gorgeous, but I can’t help but feel that Chopard might want to consider a scratch-resistant metal alloy, ceramic, or other material for the bezel of some future Alpine Eagle models.

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Worry about wear and tear on a watch are reserved for the most well-finished of timepieces. So that merely means I admire the considerable effort it takes to polish each Alpine Eagle. The steel is not normal 316L stainless steel but rather something called A223 Lucent Steel, which has a whiter color and polishes up uniquely. It certainly helps the Alpine Eagle reflect light in some very attractive ways.

Another thing of beauty on the Alpine Eagle is the bracelet. The visual design of it isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but the tight tolerances and overall engineering are admittedly impressive. Unfortunately, this is all work that started on the original St. Moritz watch, but for the Alpine Eagle, Chopard really put the bracelet on to steroids and into overdrive for a very sophisticated-looking and well-finished jewelry-style bracelet. It is probably my favorite part of the watch. The bracelet closes elegantly with a “mystery” hidden deployant clasp. It would have, however, been nice to see a micro-adjust feature or similar system which, in addition to being convenient, would help Chopard have more functional advantages over the competition.

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Grand Seiko helped remind the watch community that everyone likes a good dial texture. Chopard created a new spiraling deep-cut sunburst-style dial that is colored gray for this Alpine Eagle model. This (or a similar look) may have been used on some older Chopard watches, and the texture does help give the watch dial a lot of character. The mixed index and Roman numeral hour markers are legible and filled with Super-LumiNova luminant — but they don’t have much personality beyond their functional value. The hands are solid, sporty, and well-proportioned. They also look like cousins made in the same factory (a compliment) as the latest generation Royal Oak hands with their angled edges.

One of the best features on the dial is the date window. Not that this is a very exciting complication, but you can see how Chopard clearly agonized over making it look as clean and harmonious as possible. The result is a custom date disc with a custom date font and color. The window is a custom placement and with a custom shape. While we’ve all seen date windows before, Chopard went to the trouble of engineering a totally new one just so that it would look good for the Alpine Eagle. While some of the design ethos may get confused from time to time on the Alpine Eagle, the watch doesn’t suffer from a series of very attentive eyes making sure it stands out in the market.

Inside the Chopard Alpine Eagle is one of the brand’s in-house movements – the caliber 01.01-C. The thin 4Hz automatic movement has a long power reserve of 60 hours. You can also view the movement through the caseback window. The movement is perfectly respectable but it is not from the finest looking family of movements that Chopard produces. Outside of Ferdinand Berthoud, the Chopard L.U.C movements are the best- looking ones.

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

You can get an L.U.C watch for Alpine Eagle money, but the Alpine Eagle has the same base movement as those in the Classic Racing models (those that have in-house movements). Knowing how lovely-looking the L.U.C movements are, it is hard not to want that level of finishing on the caliber 01.01-C. Again, assuming the Alpine Eagle collection becomes a hit, there is no reason why Chopard can’t play around with future models and include a variety of movements in it.

Another way to view the Alpine Eagle as a product in the luxury watch market is as a spirited love-letter to the Royal Oak. It doesn’t want to be the Royal Oak, per se, but it wants to live up to the Royal Oak’s standards and be approved by the same crowd. To do that, Chopard will have to go beyond merely making a visual love letter to the Genta icon — it will have to replicate the years the Royal Oak took to really penetrate the market and will have to give it time before enough consumers try to adopt Alpine Eagles into their timepiece collections.

Chopard Alpine Eagle Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Where Chopard offers a nice incentive to early Alpine Eagle adopters is price. The Alpine Eagle in all-steel is especially attractively priced when compared to a Patek Philippe 5711 Nautilus. It also beats the Royal Oak in price. Personally, I truly admire this watch and sincerely hope that Chopard invests in giving the collection the patience and investment in personality that it needs to become a success.

The launch collection for the men’s Alpine Eagle line (women’s models currently outnumber the men’s pieces by a healthy margin) is just three models. One is in all steel with a blue dial (predictable, it is true, but an effective color palette, nonetheless), followed by the same model but with a gray dial (like this two-tone model). The all-steel Chopard Alpine Eagle watches have a price of $12,900 USD. In two-tone steel and 18k rose gold, the Chopard Alpine Eagle has a price of $19,700 USD. Learn more at the Chopard website here.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Chopard
>Model: Alpine Eagle (reference 298600-6001 as tested)
>Price: $19,700 USD
>Size: 41mm-wide, 9.7mm-thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a daily wear high-end wrist watch for men with the appeal of refined jewelry and the legitimacy of a prestigious timepiece.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Slightly iconoclastic luxury-seeker who is interested in non-conformity as much as value.
>Best characteristic of watch: Precision polishing and tight manufacturing tolerances result in a very well-made product. Polishing and overall decoration are effective and attractive. Dial detailing is very good. Bracelet is comfortable and impressively engineered.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Design itself fails to generate independent personality. Will too often (and unfairly) be thought of as a Royal Oak impersonator. Might prove to scratch easily. Brand fans will want Alpine Eagle house Chopard’s best movements.

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  • Swiss_Cheese

    Excuse the crudeness of it, but I tried scrubbing out the screws/date window, and played with the numerals. It makes it look a bit dressier which is the style I feel Chopard excel at (LUC Line). Never been a fan of two tone but this seems to provides a good middle ground between watches like the Aikon/BR05 and the ‘Genta(s)’.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/928079589db028705975020be6662c164942a978d7c86292903afdc4c2f545a1.jpg

    • Mikita

      Strangely, I don’t find appealing neither Chopard’s initial bezel with screws, nor empty bezel. In the latter case it feels too thick, thick without any purpose. Maybe if it was little bit slimmer / or had wider dial…

      • Pedro Lambareiro

        In the latter case it feels too thick, thick without any purpose.

        The purpose is:

        a) to charge you 20k for that watch

        b) when it becomes scratch-ridden, to charge you 2-3k for a proper re-brushing of said case.

    • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

      I don’t mind the screws or the date. The dial does look better without the numerals.
      Nicely done.

    • Independent_George

      I like this much better. My biggest gripe were with the Romans, which to me make it look anachronistic, and not in a “charming” way, and the date window placement. Losing the Romans does help highlight the dial texture, my favorite detail on this watch, but, because of the handset, it also makes it look to me even more like an RO, and while losing the bezel screws works on this two-tone, on the steel version, a wide, flat and brushed bezel is going to beg for something to break up the visual monotony. Hence the Aikon’s bezel claws and the BR05’s screws.

      And for a “middle ground” watch, I prefer the Laureato.

    • cluedog12

      This is an interesting modification of the dial and case. I like it. From here, I’d consider reducing the weight of the bezel to give the dial more negative space to breathe, as well as pushing the watch even more towards the dressy end.

      This is definitely not an iteration that would follows mass market trends, but it could grab a slice of the enthusiast pie, especially if it was equipped with a finer micro rotor movement.

    • Berndt Norten

      and to think, a bit of free advice and… bingo… a winner. WHAT were they thinking with those screws????

    • Mikita
    • Pedro Lambareiro

      That job interview went terrible well… congratulations on getting the job of Head Designer at Chopard. Looking forward to see the direction the company’s design takes under your diligent suppervision.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    The 80’s want their bracelet back.

    • PR

      This is the only issue I have with this watch. It wears well and the dial looks beautiful in natural light but that bracelet is just a tad dated looking rather than updated retro looking. I think it’s those raised center caps.

  • Beefalope

    “Should we copy AP or Hublot?”

    “Hmmmm…..a good and important question….Hey! I have an idea! Why not both?!”

    “Brilliant, sir, brilliant.”

  • Dick Mille

    Not a massive fan of the two tone but that dial is gorgeous!

  • Does the Alpine Eagle still qualify as having a 3 link true Integrated Bracelet?
    I mean those 18K Rose Gold centrepieces aren’t actually solid centre links, are they? They’re just sort of gold caps that hold the screw that goes into the links. If some0ne who tried to resize the bracelet previously didn’t secure the screws tightly enough, the centre links would slide around, right Ariel?

  • Joe

    I hope Ariel is right.

    Chopard is one of my grail brands but mainly because of their L.U.C. line.
    I’m a big fan of the look of those movements.
    I’d love to see something along the lines of a 96-series movement with micro-rotor in one of these.
    Having said that, aside from the name “Alpine Eagle” which doesn’t appeal to me, I like the overall design of the watch and I’d take it over an AP (and a PP Nautilus and mainly over price).

    Then again, it would be competing with my other grail – the Blancpain FF Bathyscaphe, although would love to see a grey ceramic version in ~41mm. The every-day slimness of the Chopard might win it for me though and BP are making too many frustrating LEs for my liking.

    • PR

      I traded the Bathyscaphe for a sizeable loss in short time due to the size and poor wearability and the dinner plate like effect on the wrist. The Alpine eagle fits and wears incredibly well and among the best in the price range. I’d pick the AE.(lousy name though I agree)

      • Joe

        Thanks for the reminder 🙂
        I always look on the Bathyscaphe as some sort of grail, even though I’ve tried it on and felt the same way as you.
        I do like the AE though, so will have to try it on at some point!

      • Joe

        I was just thinking.
        With many brands (perhaps other than Rolex, PP, AP?), you tend to “take a bath” on resale – just like you did with the BP.

        I wonder what it would be like with the Chopard?
        Not that I mind if it’s a watch I’d enjoy wearing and intend to keep.

        However the “what if” scenarios and the ability to quickly (but hopefully not cheaply) liquidate your assets is a consideration for most.

  • Berndt Norten

    If you can face the face, you can copy the copy…!! ):

    • Mikita

      Don’t cut the cut!

    • Mikita

      Oh, just got what you mean! We’ve got to judge the judge!

  • NaJo

    Am sorry but the watch case and that brick style gold links on bracelet looks ugly! Ss for $13k, no way. It looks like a designer salvador ferragamo watches..

  • Mikita

    Grand Seiko is really another level above just Seiko. And Credor is above Grand Seiko.

  • Mikita

    Hublot itself is a child of AP and IWC Ingenieur 🙂

  • Mikita
    • No, not really. The weakest of the GG designs (or inspired by designs) of the period I think. Nothing bad about it but nothing striking either. Like how to take a RO or Nautlius and make it bland by removing any element that has character and then putting 5 non-functional dimples on it.

    • Joe

      That’s the Ingenieur design they should have retained.
      Decorate the movement and/or make it in-house and add a display back and it would be perfect.
      I was close to getting one at one point but before I had a chance they went out of production.
      It was a thin watch and I loved the overall aesthetics.

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    I’ve become a big fan of two tone. I don’t know whether it’s just habituation and exposure to the look. But any one who has more than one watch could surely have room for the colour, shine, and fun of a two tone watch.
    It’s not perfect, and all sports watches look like each other to a greater or lesser degree.
    The dial is a the best bit. The bezel frames it nicely and the bracelet integrates the whole look. But taken on its own, I’m undecided about the bracelet.
    And at least people wont think you might be the sort who pays 150% retail just to get hold of an uber fashionable watch

  • Pete L

    Attractive thing, tremendous quality I am sure, and perhaps more accurately (?) priced than its competition but it just looks too much like its trying to be a Royal Oak/Nautilus/Overseas. By all means enter the ring for luxury integrated bracelet sports watches but try something innovative. Too close to a homage for my liking and brings to mind the Maurice Lacroix Aikon. Not a problem so much for the Aikon as the price point is considerably different!

    How can a watch be too vaguely branded for daily wear?

  • Pedro Lambareiro

    The biggest trend in the luxury watch industry today is producing items that look like watches that brands feel the market wants to buy.

    I will say that the bezel (here in 18k rose gold) seems like a bit of a scratch magnet (especially due to the brushed finishing).

    Oh… ok. Brushed anything that’s not Grade 5 titanium or Ceramic is a scratch magnet and not something I’d buy. furthermore, its something that will take a polisher ages to reproduce because of the heavy machinery requirements.

  • hatster

    There’s a lack of ‘something’ about a number of watches in this part of the market and I think this epitomizes it. It falls between finesse and subtlety, I think. It might be the apparent need for wide, flat, screw-down bezels, slightly oversized indices or materials that stand out for a number of reasons, like rose gold. But as a few folks say, it seems to hark back to 80s designs in a few ways. For many folks that is not a bad thing, perhaps better than 70s or 60s. But it isn’t for me. I think it boils down to subtlety….

  • Pedro Lambareiro

    So the same movement powering the 5k Mille Miglia GTS Automatic costs the su… costumer 20k in Alpine Eagle guise after adding €500 worth in gold? Gota love Swissnomics.

  • JK

    It is not a shame to take over what is good, but make it yours.

    I wouldn’t say anything else, but:
    1) I would turn the IX, III and the date window 90 degree right
    2) variations: the dial is the same, only color changing. why can’t we have 5 different dial in 5 different color? why isn’t there arabic numerals or plain index version?
    3) (steel) price is a bit high, in a 20% less price range one can choose many other options

  • Pedro Lambareiro

    One of my dearest timepieces is the IW515104. A monopusher chrono which movement is exclusive to that movement. 45mm case, 8-day power reserve, such a polish in the metal that the gold looks liquid. Second-hand it cost me 15k. Now compare that with any of the “luxury steel” stuff around and… its just hilarious.

  • Ulysses31

    It looks clunky and inelegant. As a big fan of Chopard, I feel like this is something of a swing and a miss. Stylistically it appears to be a hybrid of some sort, and unfortunately inspired by watches that themselves weren’t the prettiest in the first place (IMO). What is a sports watch anyway? It was wise of Adams to put that in quotes, because the definition is vague. I honestly think some members of the watch industry don’t know. Is it a watch that takes style cues from a sports vehicle, or a watch with unique materials designed to aid a sportsman in their task? Slapping some go-faster stripes on a Corolla doesn’t turn it into a sports car, and I feel that adding style elements to a watch doesn’t make it sporty either. This watch doesn’t even have those, so sporty, it is not. It doesn’t know what it wants to be, and ends up looking generic. The angled body where it interfaces with the bracelet, the integrated bracelet itself, the hulking bezel ring, the random addition of screws, spaced differently probably to avoid some sort of design patent infringement maybe, all of it is so depressingly derivative.

  • Pedro Lambareiro

    Had no idea this watch existed. Thanks for calling my attention to it.

  • I will agree that with more rounded elements, the Jumbo did have more of its own look (the later references lean towards a Royal Oak look), but the Overseas is still not my favorite Genta design.

  • Dan F

    It is a beautiful watch and I do like it. But $20K? Even at $13K, it’s too much. For that kind of money they need to put their higher-end movement in it. When you get down to it, the Alpine Eagle seems like the Mille Miglia, including the movement. You can find it online around $5,000 with a discount!

  • Joe

    I agree with you on the quality and I understand what you’re saying but it’s still not something I can “let go”.

    For me a parallel might be something like “I really like the quality and look of this coat but they only have it in XL. I’m a Medium. However it’s so good I’ll just buy it.”.

    If you have larger wrists than mine then I’m jealous (and happy for you) but I just don’t want to spend that $$ on something that isn’t quite right.
    There’s also the 38mm Bathyscaphe but the proportions don’t work (for me at least), with the bezel being too thick for the overall size of the watch. The full size Bathyscaphe looks great because of the relatively thin bezel (in my opinion).

    The Hodinkee LE somehow made up for it in other ways but sadly I missed the opportunity.

    • Quinton Tse

      Was kicking myself after the Hodinkee LE came out, but I still prefer the 1315 movement in the larger bathyscaphe both in terms of finishing and regulation.

      I do see what you mean about it being a large watch but the lugs are pretty short and doesn’t have shoulders like a submariner so on a strap I honestly don’t find it to wear that much differently to the average modern diver… good luck on finding the perfect grail for you though!

      • Joe

        I haven’t given up on it…but I’m still waiting to see what they might come up with next.
        Some of their LE FF (eg Milspec) are also “almost appealing” but either they are too limited (and aren’t easily available) or I have second thoughts about their shiny appearance.
        The Bathyscaphe is stunning – I love the angular case shape and particularly the “blue ceramic” version with brushed-metal look, deceptive case. If I pull the trigger on a Bathyscaphe, the Blue Ceramic would be the one 😉

        I’m not overly sold on their 1315 movement. It’s nice but it’s also large.
        The F.Piguet based 1150/1 series is nice and it has quite a history.

        There may come a time where I don’t have to wear a work-shirt anymore and so size becomes less of a concern…we’ll see 🙂

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