The Chopard L.U.C Collection Upon Turning 25: Here Are A Few Highlights
by Martin Green
Twenty-five years – a quarter of a century – is a long time. But it’s not that long for a watch manufacturer. In 1996, Chopard’s co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele proudly introduced Caliber 1.96 to the world, his brand’s very first in-house movement. And that must seem like yesterday to him.
Even by today’s standards, Caliber 1.96 is still a gem of a movement, featuring a beautiful gold micro rotor, swan-neck regulator, and refined finishing. It was also the movement in Reference 1860, a watch that appeared in 1997, setting a new pace for this company and setting it down a glorious path for which I believe Chopard doesn’t get enough credit. Scheufele’s achievement is genuine.
Two personal L.U.C favorites from 25 years of Chopard Manufacture
I wouldn’t be surprised if those 25 years flew by for Scheufele. A quarter of a century is not that long in the watch industry, but Chopard has made them count. After Chopard’s decisive step with Caliber 1.96, the company picked up the pace, building a more than impressive collection of calibers.
Discussing all the movements and watches they power could fill a book, but I’d like to name two of my personal favorites, the first one being the L.U.C XPS Twist of 2019. This contemporary dress watch is powered by Caliber L.U.C 96.09 but has a few aspects that are important to the development of Chopard’s manufacture.
First of all, this slender watch (just 7.2 mm in height) has a generous power reserve of 65 hours thanks to serially operating stacked mainspring barrels, which Chopard calls its Twin Technology. In other Chopard movements, there are even four stacked mainspring barrels resulting an even more impressive power reserve, which the company calls – you guessed it – Quattro.
The Chopard L.U.C XPS Twist also has the Qualité Fleurier (QF) hallmark, which means that the watch has gone through a comprehensive testing regime only available for watches made in the Swiss town of Fleurier. The testing focuses on both performance and aesthetic excellence.
While Chopard has proven that it continues to excel in the very pure watch designs characteristic of the L.U.C collection, complications exist there as well. The L.U.C Lunar One remains for me one of the most beautiful perpetual calendars in existence. Its design is classic and sporty all at once, highly legible, and it remains captivating to this day.
Initially launched in 2005, its Caliber 96.13-L looks much like the 1.96, strongly retaining the “DNA” of the line while moving resolutely forward into the future.
Twenty-five years is a long time
One of Chopard’s most remarkable achievements is that in those 25 years the brand has kept its eye on the ball and didn’t once mishit. Trends had little to no effect on the collection, with Scheufele and his team keeping a steady course. It was all about refining both the movements and designs, keeping them recognizable, trusting the power of evolution, but at the same time continuing to push the envelope.
In 2016, Chopard celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Chopard Manufacture with the L.U.C Full Strike, which takes all that this collection was known for to the next level, including sapphire crystal gongs for the minute repeater. A tour de force that won Chopard the coveted Aiguille d’Or at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2017.
It is quite easy to look only at the – admittedly grandiose – complication with this watch, but the L.U.C Full Strike is much more than that. It is the embodiment of the ambition that Chopard had – and still has – when it became a manufacture. It was not driven by a desire to replace third-party movements with something of their own but rather a deep belief in innovation and originality.
Celebrating 25 years of Chopard Manufacture
So how does Chopard celebrate a quarter century of manufacture movements? By launching nine different models, each highlighting a different aspect of the collection. I find two of them in particular important for different reasons. The first is the L.U.C QF Jubilee, a sporty yet elegant watch featuring a two-tone dial in a 39 mm stainless steel case.
Although the brand has only made 25 examples, I think that it’s an important watch as it displays the future of the dress watch. Its design is rather clever, distinctly Chopard with a retro touch, but also boasting a contemporary appeal. Combined with Caliber 96.09-L, the L.U.C QF Jubilee offers a mouth-watering proposition.
The L.U.C QF Jubilee is the type of watch that represents the essence of Chopard’s L.U.C and underscores its importance to the watch industry as a whole. In 1996 the dress watch was already dying. Luxury was rapidly becoming less formal, yet it was brands like Chopard who kept believing in a future for this segment of the market. I feel that we are at the verge of Chopard being proven right as the timeless class that such watches possess is finally being more broadly recognized again – and even more importantly, enjoyed on the wrist again.
Throughout the 25 years of L.U.C, Chopard has always enjoyed surprising us with new creations that we just didn’t see coming. The L.U.C Full Strike is a perfect example of this, but also the L.U.C Louis-Ulysse – The Tribute, which could be enjoyed as both a wristwatch and a pocket watch back in 2010 when it was introduced.
The L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 of 2021 is along this line as the very first jump hour watch to be part of Chopard’s manufacture collection. It is quite a bold design with a 40 mm case made of ethical 18-karat pink gold that is nearly all dial. The oven-fired enamel dial is quite an asset. I always love the understated gloss of this material, which provides a milky play of light. This is quite stunning, particularly in contrast with the rich look of the gold case.
A jump hour is quite a challenging way of displaying the time as it needs a lot of instantaneous torque. Here, Chopard’s Quattro technology comes into play: thanks to the four stacked mainspring barrels in sets of two, it has a power reserve of an impressive eight days. This adds an incredible cool factor to the watch in addition to being pleasantly functional.
Here again we see that purity of design so prevalent in the L.U.C collection. It follows the “less is more” philosophy but in a more comfortable and luxurious way. It is not sober and dressed down, but rather elegant and needs nothing added.
That said, I can look forward to seeing Chopard continue its quest with the L.U.C collection as it undoubtedly will have more incredible watches for us in the near future.
Quick Facts Chopard L.U.C QF Jubilee
Case: 39 x 8.92 mm, stainless steel, 30 m water resistance
Movement: automatic Caliber L.U.C 96.09-L with micro rotor, 3.3 mm high, 4Hz/28,800 vph frequency, twin spring barrels, 65-hour power reserve, officially C.O.S.C. chronometer and Qualité Fleurier certified
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: 25 pieces
Price: $14,500 / €14,500
Quick Facts Chopard L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25
Case: 40 x 10.3 mm, 18-karat ethical pink gold, 30 m water resistance
Movement: manually wound Caliber L.U.C 98.06-L, 4.85 mm high, 4Hz/28,800 vph frequency, four spring barrels, 192-hour power reserve, Geneva Seal
Functions: jump hours, minutes
Limitation: 100 pieces
Price: $44,700 / €44,500