Chopard’s fiery first Australian limited edition is an Alpine Eagle designed by must-know First Nations artist ShalJamie Weiss
Contemporary Australian First Nations art is really having a moment right now. Vincent Namatjira winning the Archibald Prize, Daniel Boyd’s major exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Rachael Sarra collaborating with Australia Post to commemorate the 1967 referendum… We’ve also started to see the watch world embrace First Nations artists, with Longines having just released a series of NATO straps designed by Gumbaynggirr/Bundjalung man, artist and professional surfer Otis Hope Carey. However, Chopard has gone even further with their latest limited edition: a Sunburnt Red Australian-exclusive take on the popular Alpine Eagle designed in collaboration with Shaun Daniel Allen, also known as Shal.
A tattoo artist, surfer, hardcore punk musician and painter, Shal is a Bundjalung man living on Gadigal land in Sydney who’s quickly become a must-know Australian artist, both locally and internationally. Chopard developed this collab with Shal from scratch, and Shal’s come up with a truly unique and quintessentially Australian take on the Alpine Eagle that elevates this already pretty hot watch.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle Australia Limited Edition features an exclusive “Sunburnt Red” dial, inspired by the beauty of Australian landscapes. It’s dark, rich and deep – reminiscent of outback desert sands and ochre, it’s a world apart from the Swiss Alps, which has inspired previous Alpine Eagle models. It’s also the first dial in the Alpine Eagle’s history to feature a colour gradient: the red becomes darker as it radiates out towards the dial’s edges, evoking how radically the Australian landscape can change at different times of the day. Red dials are surprisingly uncommon in the luxury watch world: this Alpine Eagle’s dial is kind of the creme of the crop.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle Australia Limited Edition is based on the standard 41mm three-handed Alpine Eagle in Lucent Steel. If you’re not familiar with Lucent Steel, it’s a proprietary Chopard alloy that shines almost as bright as precious metals, which means when it’s lit up by the harsh glare of the Australian sun, it’s almost as dazzling as gold. The watch’s steel case features alternating brushed and polished surfaces, with its bezel boasting eight exposed functional screws – a nod to the Chopard St. Moritz of the 1980s which inspired the Alpine Eagle’s design.
Normally at this point in an article, we’d be discussing a watch’s movement – but as lovely as the Chopard Alpine Eagle Australia Limited Edition’s movement is, the really important thing about this timepiece is the art that covers the movement. The watch’s exhibition caseback is adorned with Shal’s emblematic motifs, depicted in rich earthy tones. This isn’t some cheap graphic designed to obscure a subpar movement: Shal’s art is arguably even more precious than this Alpine Eagle’s movement, and it’s a testament to Chopard’s miniature artists that they’ve been able to replicate Shal’s art in such detail.
Underneath Shal’s artwork beats Chopard’s calibre 01.01-C, an in-house movement that’s COSC-certified and features hacking seconds plus an impressive 60-hour power reserve. It’s a beautifully finished movement, with a perlaged main plate; bridges with colimaçon and beveling; chamfered screws and 31 jewels… In some ways, it’s even more of a flex knowing that there’s such a beautiful movement underneath Shal’s beautiful art.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle Australia Limited Edition comes mounted on an integrated Lucent Steel bracelet. The long, flat links are brushed with raised centre ribs that are polished to an almost mirror shine – these links really catch the light as you twirl the watch on your wrist, and provide a bright hit of contrast that plays brilliantly with the dark hue of the watch’s Sunburnt Red dial.
It’s worth calling attention to the Chopard Alpine Eagle Australia Limited Edition’s packaging, which is a sustainable wooden box that’s been hand-painted by Shal with his expressive motifs. There’s something a bit punk rock about painting a luxury watch box like this – but it’s also something rather special, as it provides a unique personal connection to the artist that designed this watch.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle “Sunburnt Red” is the best Australian limited edition a Swiss luxury watchmaker has ever produced. It’s that simple. Aesthetically, it’s utterly striking, with that unique red gradient dial standing out as arguably the best red dial to ever grace a watch. I’m normally not a big fan of graphics obscuring exhibition casebacks but I’ll make an exception in this instance, as Shal’s art is beautiful and perfectly complements the fluid beating of Chopard’s accomplished in-house movement.
Chopard has done things right with this collab. It might be a Swiss watch inspired by the Alps but it feels very intentional in its connection to Australia. The dial makes sense. The art makes sense. Even the choice of watch makes sense. It underlines why the luxury world (and the world at large) should collaborate more with First Nations artists.
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It’s worth pointing out that a portion of the proceeds from the watch will be donated to the Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Corporation, a charity that provides culturally appropriate care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander foster children. “Children are our future,” Shal explains. “Seeing Ngunya Jarjum suffer from the [2022 eastern Australia floods] and knowing how much they do for the community on Bundjalung country was heartbreaking. Cleaning out their building and seeing the community working together was something I won’t forget anytime soon. Ngunya Jarjum works to support families to nurture their children, raise them on country, and preserve our culture and strength into the future. I want to see Bundjalung families thriving and supported!”
Often, regional limited editions can feel quite removed from the markets for which they’re destined, but that’s something that can’t be said about the Chopard Alpine Eagle Australia Limited Edition. It’s really got a connection to Australia and actually gives back – something rare in the luxury watch industry.
Chopard Alpine Eagle Australia Limited Edition pricing & availability
The Chopard Alpine Eagle “Sunburnt Red” is limited to 20 pieces and is exclusively available from Chopard boutiques in Australia. Price: A$27,500.
|Alpine Eagle Australia Limited Edition “Sunburnt Red”
|41mm (D) x 9.7mm (T) x 47mm (LTL)
|Sapphire, exhibition caseback with printed motifs designed by Shal
|Brass dial, stamped sunburst iris pattern in Sunburnt Red; applied numerals and hour-markers, rhodium-plated with Grade X1 Super-LumiNova
|Lucent Steel bracelet with butterfly clasp
|Chopard 01.01-C, in-house, COSC, automatic
|Hours, minutes, seconds, date
|Limited to 20 pieces, exclusively available from Chopard boutiques in Australia