Chopard L.U.C. Perpetual Chrono: Who Do You See?
Faces in places, it’s a thing.
While walking along the street one day you happen to glance down and notice, much to your amusement, that Mr. Fire Hydrant looks rather stern today; he is always on edge during a hot afternoon like this.
As you round the corner you startle Herbert the Building, making him look as surprised as the first time you saw him. Some days you wish he could just relax and enjoy the sunshine.
If you are anything like me then this sounds like a pretty typical day as you journey through the world around you. And even if this seems a bit extreme, it’s likely that you notice a face or two on inanimate objects from time to time.
This occurrence even has a name: pareidolia. This is a psychological phenomenon wherein a stimulus (in this case a visual image) is perceived to resemble a familiar pattern (such as a face) where no pattern actually exists.
Basically, pareidolia allows two screw heads and a couple curved hooks to turn a simple coat hook into a drunken octopus that wants to fight.
At its worst, pareidolia can mess with scientific experiments and intelligent people’s beliefs due to perception; but at its best we find happiness in cute robots and smiling kitchen appliances. I always find I am the most tickled when I see a face on something I had never expected, especially when it is on something I am intimately familiar with, like a watch.
Granted, watch dials are sometimes called “faces,” but I can’t think of any watch – wrist or pocket – upon which I have actually discovered someone looking out at me. Until now.
Say hello to the Chopard L.U.C. Perpetual Chrono.
If you haven’t noticed anything “familiar” about the watch yet, good. This way we can discuss its details before I distract you with my own interesting observation.
The L.U.C. Perpetual Chrono is a spectacular timepiece with oodles of great features that even the most selective watch fanatics will enjoy. It is a logical step in the expansion of the L.U.C. collection, which kicked off 20 years ago in 1996.
To mark the anniversary, Chopard has developed its first first entirely in-house perpetual calendar chronograph movement.
The L.U.C. Perpetual Chrono has, as would be expected, a perpetual calendar displaying the day, date, month, and leap year. The chronograph displays elapsed seconds, minutes (30-minute counter) and hours (12-hour counter).
And this is where a very interesting design choice comes into focus: offset overlapping dials.
In many highly complicated watches requiring numerous displays, layout options include concentric stacking. This is when two or three indications utilize the same axis on the same subdial, with hands with varying lengths pointing to their respective index markers around the same subdial.
On the original chronograph movement that acts as the starting point for this new caliber, that wasn’t required as each subdial was used for only one indication.
With the perpetual calendar portion of the movement (taken from earlier perpetual calendar mechanisms like that in the Lunar One), it was a slightly different situation. Each of the subdials now had two hands per subdial, with inner and outer indices including a day/night indicator.
The small seconds subdial even featured an awesome moon phase complication. The subdials became ever more information-dense while still remaining very legible.
The trouble with the multitude of indications began as the two movement layouts were combined and subdials overlapped with subdials.
The locations for three different indications now overlapped each other for both of the subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock, with only the small seconds/moon phase escaping the new triple-display threat.
Since the chronograph counters, month, day, leap year, and day/night indications were to be concentrically stacked, the information would most likely become illegible. So a decision was made to relocate the least critical elements: the leap year and day/night indications.
And by “relocate” I do not mean eliminate entirely or even move to the back; the indications have simply been moved slightly from their shared concentric axis by a few millimeters, turning them into smaller overlapping sub-subdials.
This keeps the indications from feeling crowded and ensures that the less critical (for daily use) information would be minimized instead of rendering everything useless in a confusing sea of hands and indices.
This change resulted in new movement architecture for the perpetual calendar mechanism hiding under the dial. And even though it isn’t skeletonized, Chopard is well aware that people enjoy seeing the beautifully finished movements of the L.U.C. collection.
The chronograph mechanism is therefore fully visible through the display back, and since it is a manually wound movement, the intricate complications are not concealed by an automatic winding rotor and gearing.
Still, the real city of gears is on the dial side of the movement. Thanks to a movement image – what I call the hero shot – we get to see all the wonder that is the new perpetual calendar works.
And it doesn’t disappoint. The quick-change large date mechanism takes up a lot of real estate on the top half of the movement, which is asymmetrically balanced by the moon phase mechanism. This is where you get to really focus on and notice the depth of the moon phase disks.
The moon phase mechanism consists of two concentric disks of differing diameters. They both rotate counterclockwise, one moving faster than the other to create the phases of the moon seen through a round aperture in the top disk. The bottom disk has silver and blue sections to represent the shadow and reflecting surface of the moon.
You may remember a bit about that from my A. Lange & Söhne Grande Lange 1 Moonphase Lumen article last week.
The top disk of the moon phase is much more than what you might expect, however. The stars are actually subtly floating over the blue color thanks to being applied to a transparent layer creating a radiance that cannot be achieved with a flat color disk. This, combined with the physical depth from the topmost level of the dial, makes for a blue wading pool of celestial bodies.
The biggest downside to the dial side of the movement is that it is hidden from view because the numerous levers, wheels, and springs (seriously, I counted over a dozen springs that are clearly visible) make for an impressively detailed presentation.
Luckily for us, this is made up for by the beautifully finished and detailed dial.
Who . . . who?
The applied Roman numeral indices, multi-level dial and subdials, cutouts for the date and moon phase display, and bold and varied engraved details combine to make a visual product that constantly draws the viewer in. The radiating lines from the date display create motion thanks to their off-center origin.
Those lines also aid in creating a feeling of familiarity for me, a feeling that doesn’t stop there.
Sometimes looking at a watch’s details too closely keeps you from seeing the big picture. And while some watches are all about the big picture, with the L.U.C. Perpetual Chrono I feel like the small and varied details have, surely by accident, come together to incite a fresh instance of pareidolia for my brain.
If you haven’t seen what I am referring to by now I’ll let you in on my little secret.
I see a face, but not just any face.
Thanks to the radiating lines coming from the center of the date display, the sub-subdials for the leap year and the day/night indicator, the contrast of the chosen colors for subdial rings, and even the small second hand and the crescent moon, I see an owl wearing 1950s-style glasses with his open beak covered in blueberry juice.
Basically, a librarian owl post-afternoon snack.
As they say, once you see something you can’t unsee it. Not that I would want to.
I absolutely love the fact that I see an owl wearing glasses because that is adorable and gives me an emotional bond with this watch that I don’t have with almost any other watch.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I absolutely love the fact that I see an owl wearing glasses.[/pullquote]
And it makes up for the fact that, barring photographs or disassembling the watch, I have to miss fifty percent of the awesomeness of the movement because it is hidden underneath a dial. Based on the increditastic features of this watch, the pedigree, and technical achievement I couldn’t deny that it has become a grail-level timepiece.
Once you add in the fact that I see a hip, spectacled owl, well, then, it leaves the realm of logical desire and enters the universe of “oh, man.”
But if you still don’t see the owl, that’s no big deal. You can still see all the awesomazing features and the beautiful design of this sporty and refined timepiece. But keep an eye out for that smart-looking owl.
Who knows, maybe instead of an owl you will meet someone new.
Faces, they’re everywhere. So let’s break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.85 Whoa, am I seeing what I think I am seeing? Wowza!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 96.5 » 946.34 m/s2 The late nights go perfectly with an owl’s schedule, and there is some serious L.U.C. lusting to be doing.
- M.G.R. * 68.5 Perpetual calendar flyback chronograph with moon phase, made entirely in-house. Um, yeah!
- Added-Functionitis * Critical The added functions of this timepiece read like a who’s who list, which means you need emergency room hospital-strengthGotta-HAVE-That cream for the ridiculously incredible swelling.
- Ouch Outline * 11.5 I can lift that by myself. Ahh, my foot! Let’s just say that moving can be a stressful and trying time. But it has to happen, so I would do it again for the chance to have this watch on my wrist the whole time!
- Mermaid Moment * I do see it; it’s an owl wearing glasses!! Animals wearing glasses is awesome; a regular object that looks like an animal wearing glasses is grounds to elope!
- Awesome Total * 782 Multiply the number in the limited edition (20) with the depth rating in meters (30) and from the result add the moon phase accuracy in years (122) followed by the hours of power reserve (60) to get a hoot of a total!
For more information, please visit www.chopard.com/LUC_Perpetual-Chrono.
Case: 45 x 15.06 mm, white fairmined gold
Movement: manually wound Caliber L.U.C. 03.10-L with 60-hour power reserve, certified by C.O.S.C. and Seal of Geneva
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; perpetual calendar with day, date, month, leap year, moon phase, day/night indicator, flyback chronograph
Limitation: 20 pieces