In terms of value and functionality, steel wins, but wearing gold has a feeling that non-precious metals can’t match. Swiss Chopard has impressed the watch industry and larger collectors with the recent release of the Chopard Alpine Eagle timepiece collection. We first talked about the Alpine Eagle in steel, and then here I went to experience the Chopard Alpine Eagle in two-tone 18k rose gold and steel firsthand. Today I researched the beautiful “Alpine Eagle Large” watch in full 18k rose gold: Chopard reference 295363-5001.
The “beautiful” 18k rose gold Alpine Eagle 41mm watch certainly is. Chopard, a watch and jewelry maker, combines the talents it has accumulated in the Alpine Eagle, combining in-house mechanical watchmaking with (masculine) jewelry design and finishing. Sharp angles and finely polished or brushed 18k rose gold metal surfaces reflect light, making the entire composition appear brighter than it really is.
The watch industry doesn’t really have a good reputation for watches in this category. Sometimes they are called “sports lifestyle watches”, sometimes they are called “watches with integrated bracelets”. Both terms may be true, but neither really explains why enthusiasts around the world are drawn to other members of this product category, such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilus, Vacheron Constantin Overseas and at least a dozen new Models have hit the market in the past few months.
While the majority of the design language in many of these timepieces began in the early 1970s with famous designers like Gerald Genta, that’s not the real reason these timepieces are so popular. Rather, they are popular because they offer men a modern, masculine jewelry watch-wearing experience once dominated by a handful of players (including Rolex and its popular Datejust and Day-Date collections) .
Men don’t really like the idea of wearing jewelry, and if these items are even labeled jewelry in a retail setting, it’s going to be hard to sell. The solution to this pervasive bias is to give best watches a practical value (to tell the time), and to dress them up as non-identity items (such as pilot instruments, diving timers, and racing chronographs). These two elements seem to be enough to dispel the notion that what most men wear is jewelry and see these items as something with a different meaning. While the psychology behind selling precious metal tools to men works, the reality is that they wear jewelry (which is nothing to be ashamed of).
Ask most women why they wear jewelry, and surprisingly few of them will say their purpose is to be seen (even if it’s a coincidental benefit). Instead, most women will tell you that their jewelry makes them feel good. Men too, and wearing gold just makes you feel good.
I’m not entirely sure why, but the weight of the all-gold watch combined with the color of the metal delights our brains. A timepiece with a gold case and matching bracelet is completely different from a steel bracelet, and this effect cannot be replicated by a watch with gold-plated metal (eg PVD coating can give steel a convincing 18k gold appearance). Also true is that , for most consumers, the price of wearing a real gold watch is probably more about the intrinsic value of wearing gold – which means that no matter how many people agree that gold feels great, not many consumers are willing to spend the money these days That’s it. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it’s so simple and common for you to look as if wearing gold (with colored non-gold materials).
But we’re not talking about most people or common things here. We’re talking about exclusive luxury and fine timepieces. In this case, the appreciation for all gold watches is real, and many members of the community know implicitly that real gold not only feels good, but is on par with cheaper alternatives. Chopard’s current gold watch is doing very well.
Let’s be clear, Chopard is no stranger to gold watches, but the company has only recently introduced men’s jewelry-style watches on integrated bracelets. A product is just a gold watch. The other is a piece of gold jewellery for men, which also happens to mark the time. There is an important difference between the two.
I also have to say that the design of the Alpine Eagle watch has grown stronger on me since the watch was originally introduced. I’d say I’m looking forward to seeing more of Chopard’s play on the bezel screws, and I’d love to see other styles of dial design – but these are logical areas where Chopard can play in order to build on what’s good Alpine Eagle Platform.
With the advent of the Chopard Alpine Eagle Chronograph, the 41mm wide Alpine Eagle Large is no longer the largest in the Alpine Eagle collection, but I do think it’s a very refined and versatile size for a heavy-use wrist. Despite the flanks, the watch doesn’t get a lot of wear and tear and I’d say the Alpine Eagle still gives a nice feel even on small to medium wrists. The case is 41mm wide and just 9.75mm thick, water-resistant to 100 meters and features a screw-down crown. Above the bezel is a flat AR-coated sapphire crystal.
On the back of the case is the window for the movement, which is an in-house manufactured Chopard calibre 01.01-C. While this movement doesn’t represent the absolute best finish Chopard has to offer, it’s well-finished and by no means a slouch. The self-winding movement certified by the COSC Observatory operates at a frequency of 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 60 hours. It has time with date window.
For these so-called “one-piece bracelet” watches to be respected, there must be as much engineering behind the bracelet as the case. Watch fans will no doubt appreciate the “aligned” screws on the bezel of the Alpine Eagle case, but they should also appreciate the extremely tight tolerances on the bracelet components. This is impressive in steel, but also in 18k rose gold. It’s actually easy to adjust the size of the bracelet using the screws on the back of the links, and the overall smooth articulation of the links of the bracelet feels really nice on the wrist.
I’m happy to report that despite the tight links on the bracelet, this watch is not an epilator. This happens sometimes and is absolutely disastrous for the marketability of the timepiece. It can be seen that Chopard not only spends a lot of time making the Alpine Eagle bracelet beautiful, but also designed it to be comfortable and functional. Closing the bracelet is done with a butterfly deployment clasp. It worked extremely well and never opened on my wrist, but it does lack an official locking mechanism, which means you probably don’t want to wear this watch for actual physical activity. Where the bracelet wins the most is offering a sleek and stylish tapered and contrasting polished bracelet look, while being visually dissimilar to those produced by competitors in the fine watchmaking space.
This special 18k rose gold Alpine Eagle watch features an “Aletsch blue” dial with rose gold indexes and hands. The Chopard Alpine Eagle dial is an interesting character because of its deep brushed and swirling texture. This texture is painted in several colors, including this lovely dark blue option. It complements the warmth of rose gold.
Relatively few people find themselves able to afford an all-gold watch, just for the hell of it. Gold watches are often personal reward items, and many times the person who acquires them wears them almost exclusively. This means that many potential consumers of all-gold Alpine Eagle watches are likely to give these watches a lot of wrist time. So there are few ways to feel good like wearing a gorgeous gold watch. If you do, having a tasteful and well-constructed product like the Chopard Alpine Eagle can be a very good idea.
Chopard luxury further promises that all its gold developments will be “ethical”. It’s a complex promise, not just a marketing term. The idea is that ethical gold comes from a fair supply chain, including the way companies treat their employees and the environmental impact of gold sourcing and refining. I’m not sure today’s consumers are ready to pay a hefty premium for ethical gold (or gemstones, for that matter), but the trend is definitely heading in that direction. More importantly, given that wearing a gold watch has conveyed a public message about conspicuous consumption, being able to claim that gold itself does no harm is indeed a moral view in the wearer’s favor. I am sorry to say goodbye to the Alpine Eagle in 18k rose gold, but Chopard needs its support. At the time of writing, it is only one of three such works in the United States. This means that the pieces are actually unique and beautiful.