Ringing in Chopard L.U.C’s 25th anniversary, the maison is making it a point to pursue the highest of its watchmaking, as it writes its next chapter. And kicking off the year’s festivities — and their first ever Watches & Wonders, in Geneva — they’ve decided that their all focus will be on demonstrating their knowhow in chiming watches, buoyed particularly by their unique implementation of sapphire gongs.
L.U.C Strike One
Fifteen years on from presenting its first watch with a striking movement, Chopard is renewing the caliber, aesthetic and style of the one that started it all: the L.U.C Strike One. Armed with their patented monobloc sapphire crystal and gong, and all of the lessons learnt from the development of the L.U.C Full Strike, the maison is poised to bring their crystal-clear sound to all of their future striking watch endeavors.
For the 2022 L.U.C Strike One, Chopard L.U.C has opted for a 40mm case rendered in ethical 18-carat rose gold. Its design code draws from the L.U.C XPS 1860 model, starting with its solid gold dial in ruthenium grey, bearing a snailed rim and a hand-guillochéd center adorned with a honeycomb pattern. The beehive is one of the emblems that Louis-Ulysse Chopard chose to represent his workshops.
Thereafter, a cutout has been incorporated on the dial’s one o’clock position, which reveals the mirror-polished steel hammer of the striking mechanism. On the outer perimeter of the dial, you can see a beautifully executed railway-type minutes track, which actually isn’t on the dial, but rather is engraved on the sapphire crystal. Just below it is the sapphire gong, which together forms the monobloc sapphire crystal and gong component.
With the new monobloc sapphire crystal and gong element used, the movement within the watch is the brand new L.U.C 96.32-L, which features signature implementations of the maison including the engraved 22-carat ethical gold micro-rotor, the double barrel Chopard Twin technology that accounts for its 65-hour power reserve. Amazingly, the watch maintains this power reserve even when the chiming mechanism is left active to ring out the passing of every hour as the minutes hand reaches 12 o’clock.
There are some points of distinction from the original movement. The L.U.C 96.14-L. powering the 2006 version of the L.U.C Strike One includes the pusher that controls the chime being incorporated into the watch’s crown, instead of a separate button at 10 o’clock. The pusher allows the wearer to switch between silence and striking modes, indicated by a gold-ringed aperture at 12 o’clock. The L.U.C 96.32-L is also a much thinner a movement compared to the L.U.C 96.14-L and allows for the watch to have a svelte height of 9.86mm.
Chopard L.U.C Strike One, Ref. 161949-5001
Movement: Mechanical self-winding L.U.C 96.32-L; 65-hour power reserve; two barrels –Chopard Twin technology; Chopard-patented monobloc sapphire crystal and gong; Chronometer-certified by the COSC; Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds and stop seconds function; chime-in-passing mechanism striking Chopard-patented monobloc sapphire crystal/gong system
Case: 40mm in ethical 18-carat rose gold, 9.86mm thick
Dial: 18-carat ethical rose gold
Strap: Hand-sewn grey alligator leather with grey alligator lining; pin buckle in polished and satin-brushed 18-carat ethical rose gold
Availability: Numbered 25-piece limited edition
L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon
Next, we move to the evolution of the L.U.C Full Strike, winner of the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève “Aiguille d’Or” — the new L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon. As its name suggests, the 42.5mm (12.58mm thick) timepiece now incorporates a tourbillon along with the full strike mechanism.
This is the first iteration of the L.U.C Full Strike that features a dial that is mostly solid rather than the more revealing one of its 2016 predecessor. On the L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon only two openings are permitted. The first cut-out between 9 and 11 o’clock, highlights the two mirror-polished steel hammers whose striking generates the chime. The other, at 6 o’clock, reveals the tourbillon of the L.U.C 08.02-L caliber. The last detail that must be pointed out on the dial is the four notches on the tourbillon bridge, which just happens to be made from sapphire. These notches are possible thanks to multiple desirable physical properties of sapphire. This bit of detail is important for the maison as it is the L.U.C signature tourbillon bridge, derived from a design by the founder of the Maison, Louis-Ulysse Chopard.
All of this drama plays out on the dial, which is made from a base plate in solid gold, and remains visible along the openings, featuring mirror-polished edges. The plate also features a hand guilloche used to decorate the center of the dial with a floral pattern that is true to the collection’s aesthetic repertoire. It is then given a galvanic treatment to produce the ruthenium grey color. The applied Roman numeral hour markers and hands are gilded in a rose gold to match the case. This gold, like that of all of Chopard’s watches and jewelry since 2018, is ethical gold.
Shifting our attention to the L.U.C 08.02-L, the movement that gives life to the L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon, we’ll first zoom in on the tourbillon implementation. The steel tourbillon carriage here picks up the distinctive spiral design, a signature of L.U.C tourbillons.
Now it can be argued that a regulation organ originally meant for a pocket watch has no real purpose when placed within a contemporary wristwatch. The idea that the tourbillon’s constant motion helps to correct chronometric discrepancies that can arise from a timepiece being in an upright position for most of its time when worn within a pocket — ala pocket watch — is a moot point when discussing wristwatches that are moving as much as the wrist it is worn upon. The only way that we can make some sense of having this fascinating mechanism placed within a wristwatch is if the watch can be measured against a chronometric benchmark. This is precisely why Chopard has all their tourbillon timepieces certified by COSC.
Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon, Ref. 161987-5001
Movement: Mechanical hand-wound L.U.C 08.02-L; 50-hour power reserve; Chronometer-certified by the COSC
Functions: Minute repeater striking sapphire gongs (Chopard-patented system); tourbillon; hours, minutes, seconds; stop-seconds Case: 42.5mm in 18-carat ethical rose gold
Dial: Ruthenium grey hand-guilloché 18-carat ethical rose gold
Strap: Hand-sewn grey alligator leather with grey alligator lining; folding clasp in polished and satin-brushed ethical 18-carat rose goldAvailability: Numbered 20-piece limited edition
L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire
But we save the best for last. The real head-turner on Chopard L.U.C’s list of chiming watches for Watches & Wonders 2022 is the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire. This timepiece takes from the patented monobloc sapphire crystal and gongs to dress the complete timepiece in sapphire. Which makes the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire the world’s only chiming watch that is completely encased in sapphire and is both COSC-certified and bears the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark.
By combining the case and monobloc sapphire crystal and gongs, Chopard shares that they’ve managed to unify musical expression and transparency to create a veritable horological musical instrument. Thanks to the homogeneity of the material, which is used throughout the watch to ensure that the sound travels beautifully and uniformly, this five-piece limited series gets the very best from sapphire.
The 42.5mm case (11.55mm thick) isn’t the only aspect here that is made in sapphire. The bezel, dial (the little there is of it), caseband, crown, caseback and rear glass are all made of sapphire crystal. In line with its corporate policy on sustainability, Chopard has gone the distance to ensure that the manufacturing process follows strict sustainable development rules, from the energy consumed in the production of the crystal through to transport.
The L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire watch inherits several advances from its L.U.C 08.01-L movement. Its patented resonant sapphire structure is complemented by several innovative technical systems, four of which are patented as well. These include the earlier discussed Chopard-patented clutch-lever device serving to block the strikework so as to avoid losing power reserve during information capture. It also has a dedicated energy source for the chiming mechanism that allows for it to function every time in its defined rhythm, whatever the time that is chimed and however many times it chimes.
Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire, Ref. 168604-9001
Movement: Mechanical hand-wound L.U.C 08.01-L; 60-hour power reserve; Chronometer-certified by the COSC; Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark
Functions: Minute repeater striking sapphire gongs (Chopard-patented system); hours, minutes, small seconds; stop-seconds function
Case: Transparent sapphire; total diameter 42.50mm and 11.55mm thick
Dial: Open-worked sapphire dial with applied rhodium-plated markers and hands
Strap: Hand-sewn grey alligator leather with grey alligator lining; folding clasp in polished and satin-brushed ethical 18-carat white gold
Availability: Numbered 5-piece limited edition
Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon
But wait, there’s more. Apart from the focus on chiming watches for Watches & Wonders 2022, Chopard is also announcing the tourbillon equipped version of their sports chic Alpine Eagle. This is the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon.
After the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono and the Cadence 8HF, the collection has now been endowed with a flying tourbillon, powered by the L.U.C Caliber 96.24-L. This marks the first time that the Alpine Eagle family has been endowed with an L.U.C movement and as well the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark.
The L.U.C Caliber 96.24-L is a particularly special movement for us at Revolution, given that it is the caliber that powered our limited edition, the L.U.C 1860 Flying T, Special Revolution. Therein, it is also the movement that works within the regular L.U.C Flying T Twin collection of watches. This ultra-thin movement made it possible to optimize the size of the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon watch. The case has been reduced to just 8mm thick, and the flanks and bezel have been trimmed down compared to a classic Alpine Eagle Large model, offering a wider dial aperture. These well-balanced proportions give the timepiece an elegant, graceful diameter of 41mm.
The L.U.C 96.24-L movement is equipped with a stop-seconds function enabling precise time setting. This allows for Chopard to send the watch to be COSC certified, which makes the watches equipped with the L.U.C 96.24-L movement, the only breed of tourbillons that are both COSC-certified and bear the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark. A curious detail is that the seconds hand mounted to the tourbillon of the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon is coated with SLN X1, as a clever way of differentiating it and keep to its sports chic lane.
The last thing that has to be mentioned about the watch is that like all steel Alpine Eagle watches, the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon too is rendered in Lucent Steel A223, an innovative steel alloy developed by Chopard for its anti-allergenic properties, robustness and incomparable brilliance obtained through a meticulous re-smelting process. It also comprises of 70 percent re-cycled steel.
Chopard Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon, Ref. 29-00186163
Movement: Mechanical with automatic winding L.U.C 96.24-L via an engraved 22-carat gold micro-rotor; 65-hour power reserve; Chronometer-certified (COSC); Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark
Functions: Flying tourbillon, hours, minutes, small seconds; stop-seconds function
Case: 41mm Lucent Steel A223; water-resistant to 100m
Dial: Aletsch Blue color, crafted in gold stamped with a radiating pattern centred on the tourbillon; applied white gold hour-markers and numerals enhanced with Grade X1 Super-LumiNova
Bracelet: Lucent Steel A223 tapering bracelet with satin-brushed wide link and sides, polished central cap; Lucent Steel A223 triple folding clasp