n 1980, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele was 22 years old, and had just joined the family business. He pitched his first watchmaking project to his father, Karl Scheufele. His proposal was for a new sports watch in steel. The proposal was in keeping with the spirit of the times, but completely unexpected for the House, which until then had specialised in gold watches. He had quite a fight on his hands.
His idea was named St. Moritz, after the upscale Swiss ski resort in the Engadine Valley, not far from Davos. It’s a winter sports paradise – downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, a natural ice bobsleigh run (for the moment...), outdoor Olympic ice rink, and a frozen lake for horse races on snow, polo, cricket, etc. Twice an Olympic city, St. Moritz is the height of “sport chic”.
50,000 pieces sold in 15 years
The watch was unexpected for the Chopard of the time, and incorporated an unusual integrated metal bracelet. “50,000 pieces sold in 15 years,” notes Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. For Chopard, the St. Moritz was “the first steel watch – but a steel worked like gold – and the first waterproof watch.”
This is what Europa Star said at the time:
The watch, as Karl-Friedrich Scheufele had predicted, was fully in tune with the times. Its steel was treated almost like a precious metal and, because it was waterproof and chic, it could be worn in many different circumstances, be it descending the slopes of the Engadine or relaxing in the hotel bar.
But beyond its aesthetic characteristics, which include the four pairs of screws securing the bezel, or the two-tone versions in vogue in the 1980s, the St. Moritz also opened up a new communication space for the brand, allowing it to reach out beyond its traditional jewellery image to another generation, a cohort of younger, more sporty clients.
History repeats itself
The St. Moritz adventure would last 15 years, coming to a close at the turn of the century. The famous air du temps had changed direction. In the meantime, it had made a significant contribution to strengthening Chopard’s position and legitimising its presence in the watchmaking industry.
Twenty years had passed, and the St. Moritz had been peacefully laid to rest, when it was rediscovered by the new generation. In this case, it was Karl-Fritz, Karl-Friedrich’s son and Karl’s grandson, who rescued it from a drawer. Like his father in his time, he had to call upon all his powers of persuasion, and his confidence in his assessment of the zeitgeist, to win over the older generation.
He found a strong ally in his grandfather. Together, they finally convinced Karl-Friedrich that redesigning the St. Moritz was an excellent idea.
“Redesigning is much more difficult than starting from a blank page.”
“There’s no need to invent any storytelling, this is the real story,” insists Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. “Except that redesigning is much more difficult than starting from a blank page. In this case, I wanted to rework the design of the watch to incorporate a close connection with the mountains, nature and Switzerland. I wanted to be inspired as much as possible by nature itself; work on the reflections of the steel, like those of glaciers; build an integrated bracelet that would look like it was made of embedded rocks... And in fact it was in the mountains that its name – its inspiration – came to me: Alpine Eagle, in reference to this splendid animal now threatened with extinction. Make its iris the dial, its feathers the hands...”
Coherence of design
A refined and perfectly contemporary silhouette, a round case flanked by two protrusions that protect its crown engraved with a compass rose, an equally round bezel punctuated by the eight characteristic screws arranged two by two, which mark its lineage from the St. Moritz and guarantee water resistance to 100 m.
A textured dial with a radiant blue or galvanic grey pattern evoking the iris of the eagle, and hands, inspired by its plumage, filled with Grade X1 Super-LumiNova® for perfect readability at night.
The case is attached to a bracelet composed of unique graduated ingot-shaped links, each with a raised central cap. The vertical satin-brushed flat surfaces and polished chamfers reflect the light in cold, matt flashes that evoke the mineral textures of the Alps.
The Alpine Eagle collection is available in ten references in steel, gold, two-tone steel and gold, or gold and diamonds, in unisex models in two different sizes: 41 mm and 36 mm in diameter. Each case size is equipped with its own specific automatic movement, both of which were developed and produced entirely in the Chopard workshops. With a diameter of 28.8 mm and 20.8 mm respectively, they are both COSC-certified (only one other Chopard ladies’ watch movement has chronometer certification). They are powerful and refined, offering a power reserve of 60 hours (42 mm) or 42 hours (36 mm). The movements can be admired through the sapphire back.
The Lucent Steel A223
The material from which the Alpine Eagle’s perfectly integrated case and bracelet are fashioned is a very special steel, Lucent Steel A223. This special alloy, exclusive to Chopard, spent 11 years in development, and is the result of a very complex melting and remelting process. This second firing removes most of the impurities from the metal, which is not only hypoallergenic, with properties comparable to surgical steel, but also seriously hard (223 Vickers versus the 150 Vickers of standard 316L steel). This makes it 50% more resistant to abrasion than conventional steel and, consequently, much more difficult to work.
Its crystalline structure is so pure that its brilliance and intense lustre make it as precious as gold, with the difference that the interplay of brilliant and matt reflections evoke the granite crags of the Alps, the eagle’s refuge.
“70% of the steel used is recycled and 100% of the waste is recycled after production,” Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is keen to emphasise. Chopard has been a pioneer in this field for some years now and has continued to strengthen its commitment to sustainable development and ethical sourcing. The company is a member of the Responsible Steel organisation, and 100% of the gold used by the company is ethical and traceable. Chopard is also one of the founders of the Swiss Better Gold Association.
With regard more specifically to the Alpine Eagle, Chopard, which joined the Alp Initiative created by the late Aga Khan in 2001, is also behind the new Eagle Wings Foundation, whose aim is not only to reintroduce the eagle back into the Alps, but also to raise awareness of all the other challenges, particularly climate change, that threaten this unique ecosystem.
The first action to be launched this October is the Eagle Race, which involves releasing eagles equipped with a small camera into the Alps. The “eye” of the raptors will be combined with an “eye in the sky”, satellite, to refine our understanding of this natural environment.
The Alpine Eagle costs €12,800 for the men’s models and from €10,000 for the women’s models. Chopard hopes to sell between 3,000 and 4,000 per year in 300 selected points of sale, half of which are single-brand boutiques. This represents around one-third the company’s total sales network of 900 points of sale, a figure down by 160 from two years ago. Ultimately, Chopard intends to keep just 800 points of sale, across all categories. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, who will not divulge the turnover of the family firm (estimated at over 650 million Swiss francs), announced that Chopard had produced 75,000 watches in 2018.
Alpine Eagle Large 42 mm
- Ref. 298600-3001 – in Lucent Steel A223 with blue dial
- Ref. 298600-3002 – in Lucent Steel A223 with slate grey dial
- Ref. 298600-6001 – in Lucent Steel A223 and 18-carat ethical pink gold with slate grey dial
Alpine Eagle Small 36 mm
- Ref. 298601-3001 – in Lucent Steel A223 with blue dial
- Ref. 298601-6001 – in Lucent Steel A223 and 18-carat ethical pink gold with slate grey dial
- Ref. 298601-6002 - in Lucent Steel A223 and 18-carat ethical pink gold with mother-of-pearl dial and diamond-set bezel
- Ref. 295370-5001 – in 18-carat ethical pink gold with slate-grey dial
- Ref. 295370-5002 – in 18-carat ethical pink gold with mother-of-pearl dial and diamond-set bezel
- Ref. 295370-5003 – in 18-carat ethical pink gold with a Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial, diamond-set bezel and partially diamond-set bracelet
esl_start_center]60 years of brands, models, markets and their development over time