It’s a known fact that Swiss watch and jewelry brand Chopard has been a leader in the field of sustainability, especially when it comes to fair-mined and ethical gold, and now even more. With the brand’s recent unveiling of the all-new Alpine Eagle collection of watches (a line that that recalls the much-loved 1980 St. Moritz sport watches), not only does Chopard pay tribute to the environment, and the preservation of Alpine eagles, but also release a new sustainable material that was four years in the research and development stages: Lucent Steel.
Lucent Steel A223 alloy is created by re-smelting steel at higher temperatures and with special ingredients that make the final hypoallergenic steel stronger and harder than regular steel (223 Vickers strength) and therefore 50 percent more resistant to scratching. The Lucent Steel A223 also has a lustrous finish thanks to a unique crystal structure that occurs in the re-smelting process. Because there are fewer impurities in the steel it offers a sheen that brilliantly reflects light. Because of the hardness of the material, the manufacturing time involved in creating cases and bracelets is longer than when using conventional steel. Additionally, there is more wear on the tools used for the machining. These factors, combined with the lengthy research and development, and the final harder and stronger shimmering aesthetic naturally make the material more expensive than regular steel.
Impressions of the Alpine Eagle Collection
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the watches in the collection, let me start by saying that these are timepieces that have to be seen and felt to appreciate the beauty of luxury feel of them. The dials are exquisite works of art that recall the iris of the eagle, and the engraving work is just superb. The feel of the integrated bracelet and striking case offers weight yet ergonomic comfort. Lastly, the fact that there is a sustainable aspect to these watches — with nothing sourced beyond 50 kilometers from the workshops — and that there is a nature component tie-in with the Alpine Eagle Foundation – just make this line an over-the-top experience.
Integrated case and bracelet for the Alpine Eagle
The new Alpine Eagle, entirely designed by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Co-President of Chopard, recalls the original sporty look of the brand’s 1980’s St. Moritz line (also developed by Karl-Friedrich), but in an updated aesthetic that is relevant to today’s lifestyles. The watches feature integrated cases and bracelets with ingot-shaped links in satin finish and a center link raised and polished. The crown is engraved with the compass rose motif. The hour and minute hands, as well as the numerals, are coated with Super-LumiNova Grade X1 for easy night reading. Six of the 10 new models – offered in two sizes – are created using the new light-reflecting Lucent Steel A223.
The Alpine Eagle watches feature an integrated case and bracelet, and are offered in a 41mm size in Lucent Steel (with either a blue dial or grey dial) and in Lucent Steel and 18-karat gold (bezel and center bracelet links) with Bemina grey dial. They range in price from $12,900 to $19,700. There are also seven 36mm versions, with two in Lucent Steel A223, two in Lucent steel and 18-karat gold and three in 18-karat gold. These versions include a model devoid of diamonds to models with diamond bezels and even diamond-adorned center bracelet links. They range in price from $10,100 to $45,200.
The dials of the 41mm watches are created using a striking pattern that recalls the shimmer of the eagle’s eye, with sunrays emanating from the center. The 36mm versions also feature that pattern on the blue and gray galvanic dials, but there are also white and gray Tahitian mother-of-pearl dials offered in this size.
All of the watches are equipped with Chopard in-house-made chronometer-certified movements. The 41mm models offer 60 hours of power reserve, while the 36mm versions offer 42 hours of power reserve. These smaller watches house a caliber that is one of the smallest ever to receive COSC certification. The movements are visible via a sapphire caseback.
The new Alpine Eagle watches have a charity component, as well. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, who was just awarded the prestigious Prix Gaia 2019 “Spirit of Enterprise,” is an avid hiker of the Alpine mountains. With this collection, he hopes to draw attention to he important environmental issues that face us today, and to raise awareness of the preciousness of the Alpine mountains. He has even launched the Eagle Wings Foundation to help with this cause. In fact, the Eagle Wings Foundation just enacted its first project. Eagles with tiny cameras attached to them were launched from five mountain peaks (each in a different country) and the trained eagles will fly to St. Moritz where the cameras will be retrieved and the images released.
Recalling the St. Moritz
Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele originally created the St Moritz line at the young age of 22. That series was introduced in 1980 as Chopard’s first true sport watch. That St. Moritz was an immediate hit thanks to its highly unusual bezel with two screws at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 with fluted edges around the screws. Typically delivered in steel and yellow gold, those watches were predominantly powered by quartz movements indicative of the era. The line continued strong for at least a decade, and remains a sought-after vintage item to this day. The new collection totally modernizes the St. Moritz and gives a relevant name that is in keeping with todays values of sustainability and environmentally conscious goals.
Sustainability by Chopard
In the coming weeks we will be bringing you (either here or on our Forbes Perfect Timing column) a host of articles about the sustainable projects undertaken and ongoing by Chopard, complete with interviews with the Scheufele’s and a review of a sustainability panel that took place during Dubai Watch Week at the Chopard exhibition space. Stay Tuned.
(*Portions of this article by Roberta Naas first appeared in her Perfect Timing column on Forbes.com)