Hands-On With The Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS — A Watch That Ticks All The Boxes
Maybe you remember that I once came up with an iron rule: if it’s over €10K, it must be less than 10mm thick. In the explanation that followed, I mentioned the Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS. This 41mm steel Alpine Eagle iteration, with a sophisticated “Monte Rosa” salmon-pink dial and small seconds at 6 o’clock, made the cut with great ease. Not only is it very slim, but it also features the in-house caliber L.U.C 96.40-L with a micro-rotor. When the watch landed on my desk at Fratello HQ, I grabbed my chance to go hands-on, wear it, and see if it lived up to its specs.
Value for money. In the world of luxury horology, there’s always tension when it comes to that. Still, there must be some correlation between the two. I know, emotion-based products often have a price calculated on intangible elements. Having said that, how much (extra) can a brand charge for the “unique” history of the Maison, anecdotal storytelling, high-profile brand ambassadors, prestige, and other emotional elements (including the success of the competition) before the target audience steps out of range? If you ask me, a bit of correlation between price and product is and ever will be desirable. Therefore, I will introduce another iron rule: if you pay more than €20K for an ultra-luxurious, three-hand, steel sports watch, you should get a micro-rotor movement.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS: does it live up to the €20K+ price?
From a horological viewpoint, the Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS (ref. 298623-3001) is the most sophisticated model in the collection inspired by the 1980s St. Moritz. Yes, there’s a tourbillon in this line. There’s also the Cadence 8HF version with a lighting-fast-beating 8Hz movement. But the 41 XPS is the most refined one in my opinion. That’s due to the self-winding 4Hz caliber L.U.C 96.40-L that beats inside the 41 × 8mm case — more about that later. The 176-part automatic movement packs a very healthy 65-hour power reserve thanks to two stacked barrels. It also has a slim 3.3mm profile, is COSC certified, features a micro-rotor, and also bears the prestigious Poinçon de Genève. That quality seal says something about the exquisite hand-finished parts of the watch, but the Poinçon de Genève requirements also subject every watch to five tests to ensure its quality and reliability.
The Alpine Eagle 41 XPS has a price of €24,400 / US$22,500, and when you look at the slim micro-rotor movement inside and consider the fact that the watch bears the Poinçon de Genève, it does live up to its €20K+ price. But how does it fare when you wear it?
Fly like an eagle
You’ve probably read about it before, but just to be thorough, I will mention the steel that Chopard uses for its Alpine Eagle collection. It’s Chopard’s proprietary alloy Lucent Steel A223. That’s an ultra-resistant, hard-to-machine alloy made from 85% recycled materials, and it looks different from other steel alloys in the world of watches. It’s different in that it’s brighter, a bit like white gold. The best way to see the brilliance of Lucent Steel A223 is by comparing it to a 316L stainless steel watch — an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo,” for instance. And while you’re at it, you will also notice that the Alpine Eagle is not a Genta clone.
Yes, the Alpine Eagle moves within the same realm as the “RO,” but the design doesn’t mimic the “AP” or the other Genta icon, the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Instead, Chopard reinterprets the 1980s St. Moritz and comes up with something that’s very Chopard and very “now” as well. The big question is, of course, will this Alpine Eagle ever fly as high as the previously mentioned benchmark watches?
Reaching for prestige
To many, prestige and image are everything when it comes to ultra-luxurious sports watches. No matter how expertly finished your product is and no matter what kind of testing it passed, in the end, it’s about brand perception. And that’s too bad. It does sell the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS short. The finishing is superb, the proportions are spot on, and the design is striking and original. Chopard has a strong name when it comes to jewelry. The Mille Miglia is also a well-known name among car enthusiasts who perceive watches as part of their world. But Chopard’s L.U.C collection — the high-end, in-house-movement-equipped watch collection of the Geneva-based brand — is not as prestigious as it could and maybe should be. Bringing an original design, propriety steel alloy, and in-house movement together in a Poinçon de Genève watch is not enough to achieve instant prestige.
But that is also a good thing. Why? Because it means that you can buy a Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS for its list price. No, after you leave the store, the value of the watch won’t immediately triple as it will with the watches I mentioned earlier. But you won’t lose three times the value either. The two Alpine Eagle 41 XPS watches that are currently for sale on Chrono24 have an asking price a little bit above the RRP.
A slim sensation
Let’s not talk about the watch as a commodity any longer. Instead, let’s look at the Alpine Eagle 41 XPS as a tangible, steel expression of traditional watchmaking excellence. And when you do, this sporty-chic Chopard holds its own. I prefer it over the alternative offerings from Vacheron Constantin, Girard-Perregaux, and Czapek, for instance. That comes down to two things — the dial and the way the watch feels on the wrist. The slimness of the case and bracelet creates a fully integrated sensation of refinement. The case is thin, but it’s not too thin. Since this is a sporty, gentleman-like watch, you want sophistication but also definition. And the shapes of the Alpine Eagle are very well defined indeed.
The eye of the eagle on the wrist
The way it sits on the wrist is just superb. And that’s mostly because of the bracelet that is edgy but also soft thanks to the rounded edges and the excellent finishing. The polished center “links,” which are caps screwed in from the back, are visually prominent, but they also give the Alpine Eagle its luxury looks. You hardly feel it’s on the wrist, but when you look at the watch, the dial will make you fully aware it is.
The “Monte Rosa” salmon-pink gold dial has a color obtained through a galvanic treatment. The finishing is an artistic impression of the iris of an eagle’s eye. The absence of a date window could very well be the key to the success of the balanced looks of the dial — if you want to know what a date does to the looks of the Alpine Eagle, check out the standard model. Normally, I’m not a fan, but combined with this dial color and configuration, the Roman numerals and indexes, both coated with Super-LumiNov, look perfectly at home.
Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS: the clever choice
If you pay serious money for a seriously luxurious sports watch, it needs to have a few crucial things. Slimness is one of the key requirements, and so are Haute Horlogerie finishing and an original movement, preferably, an automatic in-house caliber with a micro-rotor. The Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS ticks all of these boxes. It also allows you to fly under the radar. And in current times, when high-profile watches are best worn with caution, that’s not bad. Neither is the fact that this Alpine Eagle allows you to express your love for suave sports watches in a most original fashion. With this Chopard on the wrist, you will be like an eagle among pigeons.