How Karl-Friedrich Scheufele inspired the creation of our Chopard L.U.C 1860 Revolution Edition

Born out of a longstanding partnership with the Chopard Co-President, our latest collaboration with Chopard L.U.C is an 1860 watch executed in a Lucent Steel case combined with an untreated, massive gold guilloché main dial.

Of all the collaborative projects I’ve made in the past decade, it is this watch, the Chopard L.U.C 1860 in Lucent Steel with untreated gold guilloché main dial, that I’m proudest of. Why? To begin with, I’ve always considered Chopard L.U.C to be one of the greatest unsung champions of truly authentic watchmaking in Switzerland. And I’ve always held the greatest admiration for the man behind Chopard L.U.C, my dear friend Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, for his unwavering devotion to quality and true functional innovation, embodied by the understated beauty of his watches. I’ve always believed that the 1860, the very first watch created by Scheufele and L.U.C, is one of the greatest men’s dress watches of all time.

Chopard L.U.C 1860 Revolution Edition

Why do I love the Chopard L.U.C 1860 so much? For all the same reasons that I admire Scheufele. First, let’s talk about internal content… The in-house movement in the L.U.C 1860, the caliber 1.96, is to my mind the single greatest achievement in micro-rotor movements ever created. In the context of 1997, the fact that it was the world’s first bidirectional winding micro-rotor movement massively improving winding efficiency, and that it came with both COSC certification and the hallowed Geneva Seal was an absolute revelation. Says my dear friend Nick Foulkes, who is also the jury president of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), “The caliber 1.96 was so good that it was an immediate wake-up call to the entire watch industry, that Chopard L.U.C intended to be counted amongst the very best in high watchmaking and that Karl-Friedrich Scheufele was a man who would not compromise on quality, beauty or performance.” Similarly, Scheufele is a man of tremendous internal content. He is a master of el arte de vivir, a multidimensional connoisseur of everything from horology to art, to wine, to automobiles and even sausage dogs, he could hold a PhD-level dissertation on any of these subjects should he wish. But he is, like his 1860 watch, even more importantly the absolute paradigm of perfect manners and discreet elegance.

The untreated 18k gold dial quietly shimmers, giving off an air of understated elegance

This brings me to the second reason that I adore the L.U.C 1860 so unabashedly. It is an absolute masterpiece of neoclassical design. So much so that Hodinkee’s impeccably tailored chief brand officer, Eneuri Acosta, showed off his recent acquisition in the United States of this incredible Chopard L.U.C timepiece, making the L.U.C 1860 the dress watch of choice for horology’s cognoscenti, including the brilliant Louis Westphalen. A former journalist and now a marketing and business development executive at LVMH-owned Gérald Genta, he once compared Chopard’s L.U.C 1860 to Philippe Dufour’s iconic Simplicity. He explained that both watches are marvels of elegant design at around 36mm in diameter. Both watches are wonderful expressions of pure Zenreductionist, three-handed dress watch charm. Both watches feature guilloché main dials created by the famous Metalem dial manufacturer, which is now owned by Chopard. As Westphalen noted, the L.U.C “wears like a charm.” He remarked that the watch questions the frontier between vintage and modern watches as it is imbued with a classical charm, much like the Patek Philippe ref. 96.

Karl Friedrich Scheufele

Similarly, Scheufele is in both appearance and character the very embodiment of old-world charm and classic elegance. I feel that if Karl-Friedrich Scheufele didn’t exist, the Swiss watch industry would have had to invent him, because no other individual more completely embodies taste and style with classical understatement, gentility and nonchalance than Scheufele. Perhaps it is only a man who grew up driving a Bentley 8-Liter, a non-supercharged version as W.O. Bentley vastly preferred, or a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, and who owns a vineyard that he has pivoted to biodynamism, that could have had the aesthetic sensitivity to create an iconic gentlemen’s dress watch like the L.U.C 1860.

In Steel and Style

So how did this new Chopard L.U.C 1860 Revolution Edition come about? As always with our collabs, it was through a conversation born out of friendship. Now, I’ve only had the fabled Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) four times in my life and three of those times were because of Scheufele who is, though he would never say it, the Swiss French distributor of the world’s most mythical wine and a man of incredible largess. He and his wife Christine were awarded this role, despite the fact that they had not distributed a wine before, because Aubert de Villaine, the legendary patron of DRC, had been immensely impressed by their discreet elegance after meeting them through Perrine Fenal, the co-director of the DRC and daughter of the equally legendary winemaker Lalou Bize-Leroy.

 

If I were to make just one statement about the difference between DRC versus anything else I’ve ever tasted, I would simply say, “It keeps going.” Because what you taste on your palate continues to evolve every millisecond in an almost ceaseless journey. As its power begins to dissipate, it also grows evermore delicious and this feeling of ecstasy in retreat from you is both agonizingly seductive and enthrallingly uplifting. The Chopard L.U.C 1860, incidentally, also keeps going. It is a watch that you discover more and more nuances from, the more you wear it. However, unlike wine, its pleasure never dissipates. It is permanent, steadfast and eternal. During one of our incredible wine tastings, I asked Scheufele, “Do you think we could ever make the Chopard L.U.C 1860 in steel?”

The untreated 18k gold guilloché main dial creates a compelling contrast with its Lucent Steel case

He replied, “I’ve always wanted to but never felt the time was right.” He paused for a moment then added, “But now with our shift into Lucent Steel, I think it gives us a reason to do it.” For those of you who don’t know, Lucent Steel is recycled steel that is much more expensive than new steel. It is also harder and brighter. It was first introduced as the case material for Chopard’s Alpine Eagle family in 2019, as part of the brand’s pioneering commitment to ethical luxury. Since the end of 2023, Chopard has been using Lucent Steel in all of its steel watches. The brand has pledged that by 2025, the Lucent Steel components of Chopard’s steel watches will rise to a minimum of 90 percent. He then added one of the best statements I’ve ever heard, saying, “However, I would like to make two changes. The first is to remove the date window. In the context of 1997, a date display was very practical; however, today thanks to the abundance of digital information, it’s not necessary. And I think it [removing the date window] could slightly improve the aesthetics.”

The svelte 36.5mm case stays true to the original L.U.C 1860, while still feeling at home on all wrist sizes today

I closed my eyes and imagined legions of watch devotees around the world standing up and giving Scheufele a standing ovation akin to the one he had received in 2017, when he became the first person to win the top prize at the GPHG twice in a row for two different brands, Chopard and Ferdinand Berthoud. That was precisely the detail that so many L.U.C 1860 lovers had dreamed of for many years! As I was reveling in emotion, he added a second statement that absolutely blew my mind. He said, “Also, I was thinking of adding a hacking seconds function; it has always bothered me that there’s no stop seconds for this watch. It is after all COSC certified. As a true chronometer, it should have this.”

 

At this point, I had to refrain from throwing myself on the floor and sobbing in delirious happiness. I managed somehow to gather my wits long enough to say to him, “Is it possible to collaborate on a version of this watch?” He replied with five of the most wonderful words I’ve ever heard: “I don’t see why not.”

Best of 2023: Chopard L.U.C 1860 in Lucent Steel with Salmon Dial

OK, for those of you that wonder why I’ve had such immeasurable good fortune to collaborate with Chopard L.U.C and the wonderful Karl-Friedrich Scheufele now on three L.U.C 1860-based watches (the second was the Flying T, a stop seconds tourbillon with the caliber 1.96 as its base), I will just say I am immensely grateful for his kindness and generosity. Our collaboration story on this watch began in 2017 when I approached him with a request that at the time had piqued his curiosity. I asked him if he might consider reviving the L.U.C 1860 in a small limited series of 10 watches.

Chopard L.U.C 1860 Revolution Edition

I must admit my motivation was very personal, as I actually just wanted to own one of these watches myself. But I had also noticed that a younger generation of collectors was just beginning to become interested in smaller sized watches. To me, all the brands that were instrumental in the revival of mechanical watchmaking in the ’90s, Patek Philippe, Breguet, Blancpain, Parmigiani Fleurier and Chopard L.U.C, had one major advantage: they had mechanical movements that could fit smaller cases. Scheufele also thought that it would be nice to reintroduce this wonderful watch to his collection and, with great kindness, he accepted my proposal. Amusingly, we both have to thank his wife, Christine Scheufele, for perhaps the most important decision. We were wondering if we should make the watch slightly larger at 38mm or 39mm in diameter, in accordance with prevailing tastes in 2017. We asked her opinion and she replied, “If you are going to do it, do it correctly. Stay faithful to the original size at 36.5mm.” Once she said it, we both immediately knew she was right.

The untreated 18k gold guilloché main dial creates a compelling contrast with its Lucent Steel case

Upon agreeing to this most recent limited edition, Scheufele asked about the dial. Now this is the thing about the Chopard L.U.C 1860: like the man who created it, there’s so much substance within but it is always combined with a sense of humility and quiet confidence. A case in point is the massive 18K gold dial that undergoes a galvanic treatment in colors like salmon. However, I had always dreamed of unveiling the naked gold material of the dial. With the use of a steel case for the first time, I thought the contrast with a bare, untreated guilloché main would be highly compelling. Fortunately, Scheufele felt the same way and we embarked on the creation of this watch a full three years ago.

Powering the watch is a beautifully finished L.U.C movement based on the legendary caliber 1.96, the world's first bidirectional winding micro-rotor movement

Along the way, it was decided that in order to make financial sense for creating the tooling for a Chopard L.U.C 1860 case in Lucent Steel, the brand would need to launch its own edition. And again because of underlying commercial realities, Chopard would need to present its version of the watch, the Chopard L.U.C 1860 in Lucent Steel with salmon dial, at Watches and Wonders 2023 before we unveiled our watch, which of course I was completely fine with. This is the watch we see today on the wrists of connoisseurs and industry luminaries like Eneuri Acosta. What was interesting to see was that this time around, the 2023 L.U.C 1860 was one of the biggest hits of the year and has become an intensely sought after unicorn due to its rarity. As Chopard explains, “Because of the guilloché main dial, the production time for this watch is very long. At the moment we have a wait-list that is a few years long, which was not the strategy, but is the reality of the demand of the 1860.”

The L.U.C 96.40-L is based on the original calibre 1.96, the world's first bidirectional winding micro-rotor movement

The magnificent 2023 Chopard L.U.C 1860 in Lucent Steel with salmon dial was selected by multiple journalists, including the excellent Tony Traina, as the best watch of the year. He emphatically states, “The best new watch of 2023 is the Chopard L.U.C 1860 … This is about as close as it gets to the platonic ideal of a modern dressy watch.” Sure, it’s taken a bit longer for our collaboration, the Chopard L.U.C 1860 Revolution Edition, to see the light of day but I think the wait has been well worth it. The watch will be made in a limited series of 50 pieces, which will be sold both at Chopard boutiques around the world and on the Revolution platform. All I can say is the watch is absolutely breathtaking to me. The contrast of the wonderful champagne colored gold with the bright white Lucent Steel case is a stunning combination and one that, like the incredible man who created the watch, is the perfect combination of old-world charm with modern dynamism.

Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure to work with some incredible people at Chopard on the L.U.C 1860 projects, and I would like to thank all of them as well as the incredible Karl-Friedrich and Christine Scheufele for the pleasure of this collaboration. I would like to also thank Karl-Fritz Scheufele for his passion and input into the watch.

The Chopard L.U.C 1860 Revolution Edition is produced in a limited edition of 50 pieces and priced at USD 25,200 excl. taxes. Available now.

Chopard L.U.C 1860 Revolution Edition

Ref: 168860-3002

Movement: Self-winding L.U.C caliber 96.40-L; 65-hour power reserve

Functions: Hours, minutes and small hacking seconds

Case: 36.5mm; Lucent Steel; water resistant to 30m

Dial: 18K gold guilloché; applied faceted hour markers

Strap: Matte calfskin grained leather; Lucent Steel pin buckle

Price: USD 25,200 excl. taxes

Availability: Numbered and limited edition of 50 pieces

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