Chopard L.U.C XPS And Tourbillon QF In Fairmined Gold: Making A Sustainable Difference
by Martin Green
There is gold and then there is gold.
The majority of gold used in watches and jewelry today is mined by large corporations. Gold mining is a labor-intensive business requiring substantial resources in order to do it at a scale large enough to meet demand as well as build a sustainable business.
And while these companies focus on sustaining themselves and profiting their owners, social and environmental sustainability in mining gold can come under duress.
And that inspired the cerification of Fairmined gold.
What is Fairmined gold?
Fairmined gold is 100 percent the same element with exactly the same purity of metal as potentially less ethically sourced gold, but there is one big difference: Fairmined gold is mined by artisanal and small-scale miners – people who mine gold on a much smaller scale, supporting their families and communities with an eye to environmental impact.
Chopard’s management and workforce seem to have gold running through their veins because they know this precious metal much better than most. In 2013 at the Cannes Film Festival, the Genevan brand presented a multi-year program working toward more sustainable luxury.
Teaming up with the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), the aim is to help mining communities in Latin America to prospect for gold in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible way. Once they comply with the criteria, they can obtain Fairmined certification.
Poverty often forces these communities to remove gold from the earth by any means possible, often incentivizing them cut down large areas of trees to create open pit mines and use harmful chemicals to separate the gold from the soil.
Because they live where they mine, this greatly affects the future of their children, grandchildren, and continuing generations.
This is a real catch 22 for these communities because they need the money obtained from the gold to feed and raise their children.
And this is where ARM and Chopard come in. By providing social welfare and education and improving working conditions, they allow the communities to take care of themselves, above all by mining in a way that ensures natural resources and wildlife remain healthy for future generations.
This does not completely eliminate the need to cut down trees to make room for the mine, nor the use of harmful chemicals, but it does teach them to do so in the safest and most sustainable way.
These improvements allow the mining communities to become certified as Fairmined, which in turn gives them direct access to a stable market from which they receive a fair price for their gold from the buyers.
One of those buyers is, of course, Chopard. Seeing its commitment through to the end shows how serious the brand is about sustainable luxury. It’s not only the resources invested in the mining communities in Latin America, it’s also the significant investments made in the factory building in Switzerland.
Chopard is one of the very few brands with its own foundry. This allows control of every aspect of the gold, from the quality and color to the shapes in which the precious metal arrives in the workshops to be transformed into watch cases and jewelry.
However, designating a watch or jewelry item as Fairmined means the Fairmined gold cannot be mixed with the metal that does not carry this certification. Therefore, Chopard built a second production line dedicated only to Fairmined gold.
Of course you wouldn’t be reading Quill & Pad right now if you weren’t curious about what Chopard makes with its delightful Fairmined gold.
In 2013 Chopard introduced its Green Carpet collection with a few haute joaillerie pieces that were worn at the film festival in Cannes by actress Marion Cotillard.
As Chopard is also responsible for crafting the Palme d’Or trophy that goes to the festival’s winning film director, the following year Chopard presented this prestigious award for the director of the best film in a Fairmined gold version.
This was followed in 2015 by the Palme Verte collection, which took the Fairmined gold broader with more affordable jewelry inspired by the design of the Palme d’Or.
As much a watch brand as a jewelry brand
But of course is Chopard is as much a watch brand as it is a jewelry brand. In 2014 it launched its first watch made from Fairmined gold, the L.U.C. Tourbillon QF Fairmined: a most impressive piece that deserves closer inspection.
Not only is this watch housed in a 43 mm case crafted in 18-karat Fairmined gold, but the movement used in this watch also meets the standards for Qualité Fleurier certification. In order to meet this qualification, chronometer certification is also required.
As part of the L.U.C. collection, the movement is crafted in-house by Chopard; alongside a tourbillon it also boasts a nine-day (!) power reserve.
Buying Fairmined gold also has a surprising side effect: because you buy directly from the source, you get to know the miners themselves. This inspired Chopard’s designers working with jewelry and watches in Fairmined gold.
And this became especially clear at Baselworld 2015 when the brand presented the L.U.C XPS in Fairmined gold. I’ll have to add a little disclaimer here: I am a huge fan of slim, no-date, gold dress watches. If there had been one watch at Baselworld 2015 that I was allowed to take home, it would have been this one!
So at an enormous fair filled with the most expensive, complicated, and beautiful watches I pick one that is not the most expensive or the most complicated?
That is because to me it was the most beautiful one.
I describe it as being the perfect example of the “art of constraint,” something only a few brands actually master, and among those who do, even they are not able to apply it all the time.
A simple, straightforward, yet elegant 39.5 mm pink gold case crafted from Fairmined gold houses Chopard Caliber L.U.C 96.12L. Only 3.30 mm high, it is chronometer-certified, features twin spring barrels for a 65-hour power reserve, and has an offset micro rotor for efficient winding that maintains a svelte height.
But the best part of this watch has to be its dial, which is inspired by gold as it comes out of the soil, with a rich luster partially masked by the texture of the raw material.
Keeping it as low-key and understated as Chopard often does, the brand’s designers transformed the pattern into a grey galvanized, slightly curved dial. The result is an incredible play of light providing “50 shades of grey” that nonetheless maintains the watch particularly understated.
Chopard is just starting to flex its muscles where Fairmined gold is concerned. We can’t wait to see what comes next in the brand’s interesting line of sustainable luxury.
Quick Facts L.U.C. Tourbillon QF Fairmined
Movement: manually wound Caliber L.U.C. 02.13-L with one-minute tourbillon and 9-day power reserve, Qualité Fleurier certification (which contains C.O.S.C. certification)
Case: 43 x 11.15 mm, 18-karat Fairmined gold
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indication
Limitation: 25 pieces
Quick Facts L.U.C XPS in Fairmined gold
Movement: automatic Caliber L.U.C 96.12L with micro rotor and C.O.S.C. certification
Case: 39.5 x 7.13 mm, 18-karat pink Fairmined gold
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 250 pieces