May 9, 2023
by David Bredan
57,600. That’s an impressive number, whatever the context, but the horologically minded will be quick to see that it is all the more true in the world of watches. 57,600 equals 8 Hertz, precisely double what is accepted as a modern operating frequency in a mechanical watch today. The Chopard Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF watch, as its name implies, operates at that “8 High Frequency,” hence 8HF, and drives this point home by being among the very few high-frequency movements that are actually made, regulated and tested for, and ultimately subjected to COSC chronometer certification. The point is that it’s more than a cool engineering exercise.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF debuted in 2021, draped in titanium from day one to match its high-tech movement. What’s new for 2023 in the Alpine Eagle 8Hz watch is that it’s no longer a limited edition — the debut reference was produced in just 250 examples with a monochromatic dial. This latest, non-limited version, reference 298600-3020, comes with a rather more exciting black dial with an orange seconds hand and an orange rendition of Chopard’s high-frequency logo.
Dedicated fans of the brand will remember the frankly epic Chopard Superfast Power Control Porsche 919 HF Edition watch from 2017 that had this logo, just like the brand’s first-ever high-frequency watch, the L.U.C 8HF, did over a decade ago, in 2012. That, mind you, was the first series-produced ultra-high-frequency mechanical watch to get COSC chronometer certification, and few others have measured up to that challenge since. In fact, many 5Hz watches lack this certification, too. To learn more about why this is so backward, read our hands-on debut of the Alpine Eagle 8HF here.
Over the 35-year renaissance of the luxury watch industry, we have seen many a watchmaker debut, with much fanfare, high-frequency or otherwise chronometry-focused calibers only to quietly discontinue them soon after, as they faced insurmountable problems with series production, real-world timekeeping accuracy, or reliability. The fact that Chopard’s 01.12-C High-Frequency Movement is still in production, albeit in low quantities, over a decade after its debut serves as strong proof of concept. Equally impressive is the 60-hour power reserve matched to this 8Hz operating frequency — many 4Hz and 5Hz movements struggle to this day with reaching a weekend-lasting 60-hour power reserve.
The movement isn’t exactly exciting to look at, although every component is brought to a machined finish of decent quality. Compare that to the frankly mad, motorsport-inspired decorations found in the aforementioned Superfast 919 model, as pictured just above, and you’ll see that Chopard knows how to turn things up to 10 — maybe 11 — when it comes to decorating the same caliber. To be fair, Chopard certainly wanted to stay close to the $20,000 mark with the Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF, and with the all-titanium exterior — among the most beautifully and intricately finished titanium cases and bracelets in this segment — it probably had to keep movement decoration related costs at bay. A fancier movement matched with this exterior quickly would have made this a $30,000 proposition. Still, striking a healthy balance between the two extremes would be a welcome development in the next iteration.
This being an Alpine Eagle, Chopard’s shot at the integrated bracelet luxury sports watch segment, water resistance remains a healthy 100 meters, enforced by a screw-down crown. Case thickness, despite the strong WR, long power reserve, and elevated frequency, stays under 10mm at 9.75mm-thick between its front and rear sapphire crystals. The Chopard Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF watch is 41mm-wide and is crafted from grade 5 titanium.
The dial of the Chopard Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF watch keeps the eagle’s iris-inspired pattern that the original Alpine Eagle had, although this time it is in “absolute black.” Don’t expect Vantablack levels of absolute blackness, it’s more of an “absolute grey” than anything else. The rhodium-plated hour markers are nicely made and are filled with Super-LumiNova, as are the faceted main hands, for improved low-light legibility. The decidedly rough texture of the iris pattern creates a lovely contrast with the smooth, polished look of the hour markers and hands, while the dash of orange lends the Alpine Eagle 8HF an “experimental watch” vibe.
On the wrist, the Chopard Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF watch looks as cool as any Alpine Eagle, erring on the side of high-tech and modern aesthetics, as opposed to the salmon-dialed, elegance-focused style of the also new, and very slim, Alpine Eagle XPS. The XPS costs roughly the same as this model but trades the ultra-high frequency for a Geneva Seal certification. Generally speaking, whereas a dash of color might be prominent in pictures, it really isn’t intrusive during real-world wear. If anything, it tends to elevate the experience and liven up a greyscale dial that may look restrained and elegant at first but might appear dull and boring soon after.
Looking at the steadily expanding collection, we can deduce that the Alpine Eagle appears to have gained Chopard’s confidence following its energetic, yet careful launch back in 2019. The brand communicated conservative expectations, in the reserved style of its co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, in complete awareness of the cut-neck competition that had already been true for the integrated bracelet luxury sports watch segment. As a watch enthusiast that looks beyond a pretty exterior, I consider Chopard’s approach a noble one. It clearly intends to offer more than just a glitzy exterior to attract customers away from Audemars Piguet and Rolex and Patek Philippe waiting lists. The unmatched operating frequency and one of the prettiest titanium exteriors will prove to be strong propositions for those after not just a status symbol, but a great watch they can be proud to wear.
Servicing, according to Chopard, should be a normal affair, as wear is greatly reduced by using lubrication-free silicon for the hardest wearing, frantically ticking part of this movement: the escapement. A cool exercise in watchmaking, the 8Hz Chopard Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF watch costs $20,300 on a titanium bracelet. You can learn more at the brand’s website.