The shining stars of the Chopard L.U.C collectionBorna Bošnjak
Chopard is a brand fighting on many fronts. Their offering encompasses jewellery and watches, with the watch side of the maison covering everything from sporty chronographs and quartz stainless-steel pieces to haute horlogerie sapphire chiming pieces and jewel-encrusted creations. The Chopard L.U.C collection builds on the history of the brand and its founder, Louis-Ulysse Chopard, containing only the most special and best-finished masterpieces that aim at the high end of the market. Today, we take a look at the quartet presented at the 2022 edition of Watches and Wonders, comprising of a slim, stealth-wealth proposition and three chiming pieces.
L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer
First up is the L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer, a gorgeous combination of warm, yellow gold with a forest green dial with a unique inspiration behind its decoration. Throughout the watch, you’ll notice references to bees, starting with the honeycomb guilloché occupying the central dial medallion. It gives the dial plenty of visual interest, despite the relatively simple construction. The hands are another Chopard signature, with a rapidly tapering base and slender tip, matching the faceted hour markers, both in yellow gold. I’m still unsure about the inclusion of the Arabic numerals in place of a double index at 12 o’clock, though.
At 40mm in diameter and 7.2mm in height, the XPS Officer owes its slimness partly thanks to the micro-rotor calibre inside. The extensively decorated L.U.C 96.01-L carries a Geneva Seal atop its Geneva-striped and bevelled plates, while the 65-hour power reserve from twin barrels is topped up by a 22k gold micro-rotor. It would be an absolute shame to hide this movement, but how does one do that, should they wish to retain a beautifully-executed solid caseback? The XPS Officer resolves this by including a button-operated hunter case, once again showing the honeycomb and bee motifs.
The Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer is a limited edition of 50 pieces, available now. Price: US$51,900
L.U.C Strike One
Fifteen years after the introduction of Chopard’s first chiming movement with the Strike One, the model received significant upgrades for its 2022 re-hashing. The most notable is Chopard’s patented sapphire crystal gongs. This is visible dial-side, with the sapphire gong encircling the dial, as it’s struck by the hammer nestling in the cut-out atop the dial. The small aperture above the brand designation helps the wearer distinguish between chiming and silent modes, switching between the two using the integrated pusher in the crown. The honeycomb motif makes an appearance once again, hewn from solid gold and galvanically treated, which results in the lovely shade of grey-brown.
With a 40mm in diameter and 9.86mm in height, the ethically-sourced 18k solid gold case retains a wearable profile despite a complex movement. Speaking of the movement, the Strike One combines the first-ever L.U.C movement, the Calibre 96, with a striking mechanism, now called the L.U.C 96.32-L. The mechanism activates the gong at the top of the hour, striking the sapphire gong once to indicate the hour’s passing. As expected, the movement has plenty of cromulent decoration, including bevelling, Geneva striping and perlage.
The Chopard L.U.C Strike One is available now. Price: US$63,000
L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon
Fitting for a Chopard repeater, the Full Strike Tourbillon uses sapphire gong to chime the mellow notes of C# and F, producing a crystal clear note. The warm tones of the ruthenium-coloured dial and its intricate floral guilloché provide a contrasting backdrop for the applied Roman numerals and hands in rose gold, while mirror-polished gongs stand out in an aperture between 9 and 11 o’clock. The one-minute tourbillon with patented monobloc pallet lever nestles in at 6 0’clock, with an upper bridge in sapphire crystal.
On-wrist, the 42.5mm case stands at 12.58mm in height, which isn’t insignificant, especially when considering the weightiness of the 18k rose-gold construction and complex movement. There is reason for this case increase, as the inclusion of a tourbillon resulted in a reworking of the Full Strike calibre, which contains separate barrels for timekeeping and chiming mechanism. With 568 components comprising the new L.U.C 08.02-L calibre, the elaborate hand-finishing is all the more impressive.
The Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon is available now. Price is on request.
L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire
Chopard marked the 25th anniversary of the high-end collection with this, the Full Strike Sapphire. It takes the idea of sapphire gongs from its earlier developments, and envelops them in even more of the stuff. The case, crown and dial are all cut from single blocks, giving an uninterrupted view of the Full Strike movement from all directions. Feeling it necessary to put their branding in a dominant space on the dial, L.U.C engraves it on a piece of solid gold, rather than sapphire, which serves as the transparent backdrop for the rhodium-plated hour markers.
Even though the movement is lifted directly from the non-sapphire clad Full Strike, it doesn’t make it any less impressive. The chiming is operated by a single pusher, rather than a slider, allowing it to be integrated into the crown, as a separate barrel holds the chiming reserve. The Geneva-hallmarked Calibre L.U.C 08.01-L remains an impressively decorated hand-wound calibre, taking nearly two years of development and three patents.
The Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire is a limited edition of five pieces. Price is on request.