HANDS-ON: The Chopard L.U.C 1860 and 1963 Heritage ChronographFergus Nash
Watches & Wonders 2023 feels like a lifetime ago, but certain releases have stuck with us. Chopard’s L.U.C collection continues to impress with every release, and they doubled down on proving their worth at Watches & Wonders by unveiling both a reissue and a new design.
The Chopard L.U.C 1860 returns to the collection’s 1997 debut for an update of contemporary excellence, while the L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph explores a racier avenue for the prestigious brand.
Starting with the Chopard L.U.C 1860, it’s immediately apparent that this isn’t just an excuse to reuse old designs. The updated case is much more statuesque, with more attention given to the bezel and wider lugs that help it to feel visually planted on the wrist. The white metal case may appear humble to an untrained eye, but the brand’s signature Lucent steel has been used in place of the ‘90s model’s yellow gold. It’s made from 80% recycled materials, and specifically heat-treated for 50% extra hardness than regular steel. In addition to that scratch resistance, the lustre of the metal is slightly brighter, giving an air of luxury similar to white gold. The 36.5mm diameter and 8.2mm thickness offers a refined wearing experience with a vintage flair, although it never feels diminutive.
The Chopard L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph isn’t exactly an adrenaline-pumping chronograph for thrill-seeking collectors, however it’s definitely a step towards a sportier direction for the L.U.C collection. The case, also made from Lucent steel, is an authentic representation of a 1960s racing chronograph with the exception of the thick lugs, which give just the slightest air of opulence to this overall casual design. Speaking to its modernity is the 42mm diameter and 14.5mm thickness, embracing the grandeur of a large sports watch like Chopard’s previous endorsement of the Mille Miglia.
It’s always difficult to tell how a dial’s style is going to age, and in the case of the L.U.C 1860 its original dial from 1997 does feel a bit poorly dated. By comparison, the new model feels both fresh and timeless, embracing vintage elements alongside modern ones that are seamlessly integrated. My favourite of the new additions is the direction of the sunburst guilloché pattern, which now emanates from the logo rather than from the centre pinion. This adds a dynamic layer and slightly more whimsical style. The date display has also been deleted, cleaning up the dial significantly. The golden dial is a lovely tone, and thematically is a neat inversion of the 1997 original’s gold case with silver dial.
Green dials are past the point of trendy and are now commonplace, however that doesn’t stop the dial of the Chopard L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph from looking spectacular. Again its sunburst brushing radiates from the logo, subtly setting it apart from all the other green-dialled chronographs on the market. Its large printed minute markers in place of hour markers are inspired by vintage stopwatches that ruled racetracks in the ‘60s, but the dauphine fusée hands bring out a much classier vibe. The subdials are quite classy too, with a slight crosshair at 6 for the running seconds, a neat 30-minute counter at 3, and a respectable 12-hour counter at 9.
Both the new Chopard L.U.C releases come fitted on leather straps, granted with vastly different styles. The 1860 has a grey-toned calfskin leather strap with a Lucent steel buckle, and fits the 18mm lug width. The 1963 Heritage Chronograph has a smoothly finished brown calfskin strap with green stitching and backing to accent the dial, with a 20mm lug width.
When you purchase a watch from Chopard’s L.U.C collection, no matter how beautiful the piece is, the movement is going to be even better. With each model COSC-certified for chronometer accuracy and awarded the Poinçon de Geneve seal of quality, viewing the exhibition casebacks will be just as rewarding as looking at the dial. The L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph uses the in-house L.U.C 03.07-L. Their movements don’t have the prettiest names, but their specs more than make up for it. A power reserve of 60 hours and a 4Hz beat rate ensure a consistent and smooth sweep, while the vertical clutch and unique hammer system offer a soft-touch pusher with reliable actuation. It also has flyback functionality, allowing consecutive timing without needing a reset to zero.
The L.U.C 1860’s L.U.C 96.40-L is an evolution of the calibre 1.96 which powered the ‘90s model, but now with a time-only display that can focus on quality over quantity. It uses twin barrels for a power reserve of 65 hours, also beating at 4Hz for that smooth small-seconds sweep. The decoration is phenomenally gorgeous, with the 22k gold micro-rotor gleaming.
The Chopard L.U.C 1860 and 1963 Heritage Chronograph pricing and availability:
The Chopard L.U.C 1860 and 1963 Heritage Chronograph are available now, with the 1963 Heritage Chronograph a limited edition of 25 pieces. Price: US$23,200 (L.U.C.1860) / US$32,300 (L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph)
|Model||L.U.C 1860||L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph|
|Case Dimensions||36.5mm x 8.2mm||42mm x 14.55mm|
|Case Material||Lucent steel||Lucent steel|
|Strap||Grey leather (18mm)||Brown leather (20mm)|
|Movement||L.U.C 96.40-L||L.U.C 03.07-L|
|Power Reserve||65 hours||60 hours|
|Availability||Available now||Limited to 25 pieces|