Chopard’s Flagship Sports Watch Soars To Greater Heights — The Brand-New Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon
Chopard is a brand that I truly believe is criminally overlooked in the watch landscape today. But for over 25 years now, the brand better known for its jewelry has taken phenomenal strides in truly in-house watchmaking. Chopard’s first manufacture movement, caliber 96.01-L, debuted in 1997 in the now-legendary L.U.C 1860. The 3.3mm-slim foundational caliber boasted a micro-rotor, double barrels, COSC certification, and the Geneva Hallmark for its immaculate craftsmanship and finishing. Since then, these four characteristics have become a signature of many of Chopard’s jaw-dropping high-horology creations. And now, at Watches & Wonders 2022, the brand finally brings them all to its flagship sports watch! Today, we’ll check out the new Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon, and see why it’s the upgrade the Alpine Eagle deserved.
Since 2019, the Alpine Eagle has been the face of modern Chopard sports watches. It’s an evolution of the Chopard St. Moritz, the brand’s first steel sports watch from 1980. Designed by Chopard’s current Co-President, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, the St. Moritz was a daring release for the traditionally precious-metal watch brand. Nevertheless, it was extremely successful. The Alpine Eagle not only shares many aesthetic similarities with that watch, but it also fostered collaboration between three generations of the Scheufele family in its five-year development. It marked the introduction of a new stainless steel alloy, Lucent Steel A223, and is the perfect aesthetic platform for Chopard’s fantastic watchmaking. As such, it’s exciting to see a complicated high-horology movement now infusing the Alpine Eagle with even more Chopard spirit.
Chopard Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon
Externally, this release follows the Alpine Eagle design formula that the brand has employed since 2019. The Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon is made of Lucent Steel A223, which is antiallergenic and 50% harder than typical steel alloys. As its name suggests, the Lucent Steel alloy also gives the case and bracelet a phenomenal luster. Most surfaces feature a vertically brushed finish, with gleaming polished bevels on the edges of the bracelet links, the case flanks, and the circular bezel. The gold-bullion-shaped links of the integrated bracelet feature three-dimensional polished central caps for a beautiful contrast. Having tried on the Alpine Eagle, I can attest to the fact that the bracelet wraps around the wrist with jaw-dropping grace. It closes with a friction-fit butterfly clasp, which, though basic, provides a seamless and elegant design.
The standard 41mm Alpine Eagle is already incredibly wearable at 9.7mm thick. The Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon, however, is even more so. It has the same 41mm diameter as the simpler model, but it measures just 8mm in thickness. This is despite the fact that it’s an automatic flying tourbillon with a 100m depth rating and dual sapphire crystals! Both crystals feature a glare-proof coating, and believe me when I say, “anti-reflective” doesn’t do it justice. When I tried the Alpine Eagle on under bright AD lights, it was literally impossible to see any glare. No matter which way I oriented my wrist, the blue textured dial remained totally visible. And it’s the eagle-iris texture and beautifully saturated color that draw me back to the Alpine Eagle time and time again. It’s wonderful to see them in the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon, paired with white gold luminescent indices and hands.
Caliber L.U.C 96.24-L
But the star of the show, of course, and what makes this release really special is the completely in-house automatic flying tourbillon movement. The caliber 96.24-L beats at a frequency of 25,500vph and offers 65 hours of power reserve. It also contains a variable-inertia balance wheel, allowing for extremely precise regulation. Through the aperture at 6 o’clock on the dial, you notice the tourbillon cage rotating once per minute. The lack of an upper bridge lets this tourbillon cage “fly”, suspended in the air by only a bridge underneath. Now, this is neither a new concept nor a new movement for Chopard. That doesn’t mean, however, that the caliber 96.24-L is anything short of exceptional. Based on Chopard’s very first manufacture movement, the 96.01-L, this caliber retains the exact same 3.30mm thickness. This is thanks to the 22K gold micro-rotor and Chopard’s unwavering dedication to elegance in mechanics.
This elegance carries into the movement finishing itself, and Côtes de Genève, perlage, and anglage abound. The level of finishing earns the movement the prestigious Poinçoin de Genève, the Geneva Hallmark for superior quality. But from a technical standpoint, this movement is equally as impressive, because it has characteristics that many tourbillons do not. First, it is a COSC-certified chronometer, providing an accuracy of +6/-4 seconds per day. Though the tourbillon was originally designed to make pocket watches more accurate, a shockingly low number of tourbillon movements are actually chronometer-certified. Even rarer are tourbillon movements with a stop-seconds (hacking) mechanism. But yes, this 25-jewel caliber has that too. It’s worth mentioning that of all the flying tourbillons on the market, Chopard’s are the only ones to bear the Geneva Hallmark and COSC certification.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillion — A high-horology homerun
Since I tried on the Alpine Eagle last summer and wrote two articles on the history of Chopard, I must admit, I’ve become a big fan of the brand. Though I can’t see myself buying the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillion (unless, of course, RJ gives me the raise of the century), it makes me absolutely ecstatic to see something like this come to market. I think the Alpine Eagle is supremely wearable and a unique option in the genre of integrated-bracelet sports watches. I know people often dismiss it as a “bandwagon” design, but once you experience it in person, I’d challenge you to say the same. The Alpine Eagle really has a character all its own, and I would absolutely love to own one someday.
To see Chopard equipping the watch with one of its highest-end calibers puts the Alpine Eagle over the edge for me. Chopard’s watchmaking prowess is a force to be reckoned with, and I hope we’ll see many more releases like this in the future! I’d love to see more non-tourbillon micro-rotor calibers in the Alpine Eagle. Equip it with the 96.04-L GMT movement and sign me up!
Pricing for the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillion is available on request. Please visit the official Chopard website for more information. And if you’d like to go in-depth on this wonderful brand, check out my two articles on Chopard’s history here and here. Enjoy the rest of Watches & Wonders 2022, everyone, and be sure to check out the rest of our coverage!