If you weren’t already aware, buying a steel sports watch from certain grand ole Swiss watchmaking brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet is next to impossible these days, even if you have the money to burn. There has been speculation for some time that other watchmakers may take advantage of the shortage of these watches on the market and begin developing their own steel sports lines to fill the gap, possibly taking some market share away from the big players, and it seems like this may finally be happening.
Whether someone who has the scratch and is willing to spend it on a Royal Oak would become so frustrated waiting for one that he or she would spend the money on something entirely different is unclear. But Bell & Ross’s recent unveiling of the BR05 was certainly not surprising inasmuch as its design cues clearly reference the Genta models that are so desirable these days. Now, Chopard has jumped on the Genta-inspired, steel sports model train with the introduction of a new line, dubbed the Alpine Eagle.
The Alpine Eagle isn’t Chopard’s first foray into sports watches of this ilk — diehard fans may recall the St. Moritz line of the 1980s, and the lineage is clear when one compares the two collections side-by-side. But the Genta inspiration is perhaps even stronger in the Alpine Eagle line, which is available in two different sizes (41mm and 36mm) and several configurations. The 41mm models utilize the 01.01-C in-house mechanical movement with automatic winding and a power reserve of 60 hours, while the 36mm version houses the 09.01-C, also made in-house by Chopard and featuring automatic winding and a 42-hour power reserve. Both movements are Chronometer-certified and each is fitted to a 100m water-resistant case.
The Alpine Eagle collection consists of 10 references, including three versions in 41mm with date and seven in 36mm without the date, some of which are gem-set. Certain of the references make use of ethically mined gold, but the news regarding Chopard’s steel versions is more interesting: they make use of Lucent Steel A223, a metal partially composed of recycled stainless steel and featuring a hardness of 223 Vickers. The case designs are handsome and feature both brushing and polishing, with the Genta-inspired bezel held onto the case with 8 screws at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.
The 41mm version of the watch is 9.7mm in depth and includes two steel versions (blue dial and grey dial) and one in two-tone steel and rose gold with a grey dial. Pricing for the two steel versions is $12,900 and $19,700 for the two-tone. Pricing on the 36mm version begins at $10,100 for all steel and climbs from there depending on precious metals and diamonds used.
There’s something larger to be said about the trend of powerful Swiss companies withholding steel sports models from the market in the quest to seemingly retain their undiluted brand equity. However, the simple truth is that if you want a Royal Oak, Nautilus, Submariner, Daytona, etc right this moment, in steel, you’re gonna be hard pressed to get your hands on one. If you’re flexible and simply want a steel sports model, however, and don’t necessarily care what it says on the dial, the new Alpine Eagle could be a prime contender for your money.
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