Eagles don’t take flight lessons from chickens – The new Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono 2020 soars majestically high
Editor’s note: This is a shorter Mind (stats), Body (design features) & Soul (what’s special) review of the new Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono 2020 that released alongside two other models reviewed here: new automatic (large) models, and smaller ladies versions. For our other detailed reviews, please head to our dedicated review section here.
What is it: The second wave, the new Chopard Alpine Eagle 2.0 Chronograph
Why: There is definitely a market gap and need for a Swiss-made integrated bracelet sports-luxury watch with a flyback chronograph that can compete with the likes of the legendary AP Royal Oaks, challenge the Girard Perregaux Laureato Chronos, and overshadow the Oris Aquis Regulateur Der Meistertaucher. If you think about it, besides these, the only other Swiss option with a flyback chronograph on an integrated bracelet would be the H. Moser & Cie Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic; or the rather rare Patek Philippe ref. 5980/1AR-001. There is the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic but is not a true integrated bracelet watch. I am sure I am missing a couple here but the point is, these are still pretty rare. And for the price of 19’200 CHF, it’s reasonably priced too given the competition.
When released: 8pm AEST 12th October 2020
Where: Non-limited edition global release
Who is it for: The Chronograph version is for the connoisseur and gentleman who would like to have distinctive timepiece; also for those with larger wrists owing to the 44mm case diameter.
How does it do: ‘Eagles don’t take flight lessons from chickens’ – I read this quote somewhere, and in my opinion, it fits the new Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono to the T. Come on, who doesn’t like an integrated steel sports watch these days. The Chopard Alpine Eagle has its own distinctive look and appeal. Personally, I love the eagle eye iris inspired brass dials and the overall ‘cold’ appeal of blue against the steel. Chopard’s decision to continue using in-house movements, this time around with four new patents and environmentally sustainable products are both commendable. Overall, especially the blue version, the ref. 298609-3001 with slight use of red is simply stunning.
Missing: The 4.30 window is still annoying and the dial overall is a bit cluttered. The pushers are a bit resemblant of Nautilus versions but I am going to ignore that. I will obviously have to see these in person to fully make up my mind but the use of three different styles of sub-dials and rather long indices alongside a peripheral tachymetre scale make the dial fairly cluttered. I had really enjoyed — sans the date window location — the clean sunburst dial of the original 2019 blue Alpine Eagle Automatic Large and somehow that clean quality is missing here. But again, I have spent time with the 2019 version and that’s why I really like it and am looking forward to reviewing these in person soon.
The new Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono features an automatic winding, in-house, COSC-certified calibre Chopard 03.05-C with a pretty good 60-hour power reserve. The 28.8mm diameter and 7.6mm thick movement comprises of 45 jewels and 310 components, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28,800 Vph), offers flyback function with stop-seconds function thanks to three pivoting hammers with elastic arms facilitating zero-setting of the counters, and makes use of the Variner® balance with balance-spring featuring a flat terminal curve that ensures that the rate of the movement is stable by compensating for its variations in inertia throughout the watch’s lifetime, and an open-worked tungsten alloy rotor.
The calibre Chopard 03.05-C which uses the calibre Chopard 03.05-M as its base is not a new movement for the brand, having been used previously in other watches such as the ref. 168580-3001, the 2016 Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition.
When it comes to making their own movements, Chopard has two branches: Fleurier Ebauches that makes movements for watches like Mille Miglia GTS Power Control, and Chopard Manufacture that makes movements for watches under the L.U.C banner. The Chopard 03.05-C belongs to the former.
The movement is encased inside a 44mm diameter and 13.15mm thick Lucent Steel A223 case that is water-resistant to a 100m. Even the 8mm crown with compass rose, the pushers, and the bezel with eight screws set at a tangent are in Lucent Steel A223. The bezel screws follow the form follows function mandate, in that not only are they are properly aligned with the curve of the dial, that also go through and through to the back, thereby improving the water -resistance and forming a Hublot like sandwich construction.
The case is handsomely finished, with both polished and satin-brushed surfaces, and especially visible is the vertical satin-brushed case-band with polished chamfers.
Completing the look is the other star attraction — there first being the dial discussed below — the tapering bracelet in Lucent Steel A223 with wide links with satin-bushed sides and polished central cap. The bracelet comes on a triple folding clasp, again in Chopard’s special Lucent Steel A223 that is an innovative steel alloy developed by brand that’s known for its anti-allergenic properties and robustness. When it comes to steel sports watches, I think bracelets can make or break the watch, and I am happy to note that Chopard has done one exceptional job of it.
The star here is the new chronograph dial, and out of the options — the ref. 298609-6001 in Lucent Steel A223 and 18-carat ethical rose gold with Pitch Black dial, the ref. 298609-3002 in Lucent Steel A223 with Pitch Black dial, or the ref. 298609-3002 in Lucent Steel A223 with Aletsch Blue dial— introduced, our favourite still is the latter blue version. Both versions are brass dials stamped with an Aletsch Blue or Pitch Black sunburst pattern that is achieved by galvanic treatment and like the 2019 models are inspired by the iris of the eagle. Legibility is key for any timepiece, especially for a chronograph, and I am happy to report that even though the dial is a bit cluttered, the legibility has not been compromised. Rhodium-plated and enhanced with Grade X1 Super-LumiNova® applied numerals and hour-markers contrast well against the blue dial base and the chronograph counters at 3 and 9 are surrounded by rhodium-plated rims to define them clearly. The azurage counters contrast well against the sun-burst of the dials, again helping the legibility. The 6’o clock counter is fairly sunken to again provide with contrast.
The subtle use of red in the central chronograph seconds hand and the tips of the seconds hands at 3 and 9 is a welcome added detail, that also complements the almost hidden red in the tachymeter scale. To facilitate reading average speed measurements, three discreet red 100, 160 and 240 graduations are marked on the inner bezel ring that is divided into four steps, with different intervals of 5, 10, 20 or 40 km/h per line.
Complementing the indices are the rhodium-plated and enhanced with Grade X1 Super-LumiNova® baton-type hours and minutes hands, that reveal the concept of time in sync with the rhodium-plated arrow-type seconds hand with eagle feather counterweight.
The functions the dial depicts are pretty straightforward: central hours, minutes and chronograph seconds hands, a — not again — date between 4 and 5’o clock, a 30-minute counter at 3’o clock, a 12-hour counter at 9’o clock and a running small seconds counter at 6.
Overall the new Chopard Alpine Eagle 2.0 collection including the new Automatic versions is bigger and better and simply impressive. Chopard’s own website describes this best – a classic round case with stylised flanks, a crown engraved with a compass rose, a bezel with eight functional indexed screws, a textured dial with deep hues and luminescent indications, as well as an integrated metal bracelet – the new Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono 2020 truly soars majestically high.
To find out more about the new Chopard Alpine Eagle Automatic 2020 and other timepieces from the Maison, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are © Chopard, All rights reserved.