Chopard Full Strike Minute Repeater in Blue Sapphire
by Martin Green
Chopard is a manufacture that doesn’t shy away from making complex watches. While their collection contains many stunning timepieces with a wide variety of complications, their current poster boy is the L.U.C Full Strike. Launched in 2016, it literally set the tone for minute repeaters by featuring sapphire gongs that are amplified by the sapphire crystal.
No wonder that the Full Strike won the “Aiguille d’Or” award at the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). For the 25th anniversary of the Chopard manufacture, Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele launched a version of the L.U.C Full Strike with a case of transparent sapphire, which is now followed by a limited edition in blue sapphire.
While repeaters know a long history in watchmaking, the complex and expensive nature of the movements meant that they were usually cased in precious metals like gold or platinum. While understandable from a commercial point of view, it didn’t aid their performance as (relatively soft) precious metals tend to dull the sound of the repeater chimes.
Harder case materials like stainless steel, titanium, and especially sapphire transmit sound much better. For this reason, Chopard first tackled the gongs themselves. Traditionally, these were made from steel, but Chopard found a way to machine them from a solid piece of sapphire.
The result is a very clear, beautiful sound that is also quite loud. By also using the sapphire crystal as a resonator, the sound became even clearer.
The preciousness of the L.U.C Full Strike with a sapphire case is not so much the material itself but more the know-how, time, and effort that it cost to machine it. This is a very complex matter with a relatively high failure rate. It is therefore commendable that Chopard not only made the gongs and case from this sapphire, but also the dial, crown, and pusher to activate the minute repeater as well.
The beauty of doing this in blue sapphire is that the watch maintains a traditional look of a case that is visibly different from the movement, but at the same time you can still look through it. This allows you to admire the movement from different angles like you are peeking through stained glass windows.
The movement is also where Chopard shows that it belongs in the top tiers of watchmaking, and I am not talking just about the monobloc sapphire gongs for the minute repeater. If the L.U.C Full Strike were an automobile, it would be a hypercar, as its performance is astonishing for such a complex piece. Its 533 components underscore the intricacy of the watch, which beats at 28,800 VpH/4Hz yet still offers a power reserve of 60 hours.
Another sign of its exquisite quality is that the overall height of the movement is just under 8mm, which is quite slim given its complication. This also allows Chopard to keep the overall height of the L.U.C Full Strike at 11.55mm, which is only 0.08 mm thicker than the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin.
The finishing is also superb, with a mainplate and bridges made from untreated German silver (aka maillechor) and the bridges adorned with Côtes de Genève motif.
If you haven’t had the pleasure to experience many minute repeaters, you might not know that most have a pause when there are no quarters to chime. Chopard avoids this thanks to a patented dedicated ratchet-driving mechanism.
This is not the only patent in this caliber: Chopard has also been awarded a patent for the clutch-lever device that blocks the strike work to avoid losing power during the repeater information capture, and another patent for the strike work activation device, which acts on the pusher whether it is chiming or not, in standard, low, continuous or fast mode.
On top of that, the movement is also Chronometer-certified and has the Geneva Seal quality hallmark.
Not a traditionally looking Chopard
The blue sapphire case dramatically changes the appearance of the L.U.C Full Strike. Whereas the transparent version was still very much in the realm of the dress watch, this one takes it more in the direction of what we are used to from brands like Greubel Forsey and Hublot (two brands rarely mentioned together). While traditionally inclined Chopard fans might not like this, I find it a refreshing take on the L.U.C Full Strike. It complements the collection of Chopard very well and stays true to its core values, while also offering something new. This is not a look that’s likely to make much impact on the entire collection, as Chopard will only make five of these watches.
One of the reasons why I find this version of the L.U.C Full Strike so easy to digest is because Chopard matched it with a beautiful alligator strap in a matching blue. This all-blue theme works very well. And then there’s the buckle. This is made from Chopard’s proprietary ethical white gold, and while one could argue that this color matches the movement, I would have loved to see something blue in it. That said, such a detail hardly takes away from the grandeur that is the L.U.C Full Strike with its blue sapphire case.
For more information, please visit www.chopard.com/en-intl/watch/161947-9001.html
Quick Facts Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Blue Sapphire
Case: 42 x 11.5 mm, blue sapphire crystal (synthetic corundum)
Movement: manually wound Caliber L.U.C 08.01-L, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve, official C.O.S.C. chronometer certificate, Geneva Seal
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds; minute repeater, power reserve indicator and strike work power reserve indicator
Limitation: 5 pieces
Price: on request