Chopard presented two new L.U.C models in Cannes
In 2016, the first L.U.C Full Strike model heralded a new watchmaking paradigm, a novel way of generating and propagating the sound of a minute repeater. The timepiece earned the “Aiguille d’Or” award at the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. To mark the 25th anniversary of Chopard Manufacture, its founder Karl-Friedrich Scheufele enlisted the support of virtuoso brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon to introduce the first minute repeater watch featuring a case made entirely of corundum crystal.
A feat now continued with an exclusive, coloured-crystal model: the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire. Today, by merging container and content, musical expression and transparency, Chopard has created a veritable horological musical instrument. Thanks to the homogeneity of the material – which is present throughout the sound propagation chain – this five-piece limited series derives the very best from sapphire and from colour.
The choice of lab-created sapphire is justified by its technical properties: derived from synthetic corundum, this material is one of the most resistant to scratches and has an estimated hardness of nine on the Mohs scale, almost as hard as diamond. Moreover, although producing a sapphire case entails considerable machining difficulties, it has the advantage of remaining unalterable over time.
The 42.5 mm diameter case is 11.55 mm thick, with well-balanced proportions identical to previous versions of the L.U.C Full Strike. The bezel, caseband, crown, case-back and rear glass are all made of blue sapphire crystal.
Alongside the technical challenges associated with machining transparent sapphire, blue sapphire adds an extra layer of difficulty: obtaining the intense blue colour by adding chromium and rare earth elements to the usual composition of corundum crystal requires subtle chemical dosage, in order to guarantee not only homogeneous colour, but also uniform structure, free of bubbles and haze.
In addition to the case, the watch dial too is made of sapphire. Its distinctively cut shape enhances the indication elements essential for reading. Absolute transparency can in fact have the effect of blurring the view and Chopard has remedied this by creating a railway-type minutes track engraved on the sapphire crystal and painted. It complements a chapter ring punctuated with rhodium-plated herringbone-shaped applied hour-markers, and black transferred counterparts. The sapphire ring is interrupted by three elements. The first is the off-centre seconds counter. The second is an applied white gold plate bearing the “L.U.CHOPARD” logo. The third is the concentric power-reserve indicator in which two hands respectively indicate the energy remaining in the barrel that drives the movement as well as in the other powering the minute repeater.
The L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire is one of the rare non-metallic timepieces to bear the prestigious Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark, covering both the design and finishing of the movement and the case. In addition, the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire watch inherits the latest advances with which the L.U.C 08.01-L movement is endowed. Its patented resonant sapphire structure is complemented by several innovative technical systems, four of which are patented.
In a minute repeater mechanism, the energy required by the strikework is provided each time the winding lever is activated. Here, the energy comes from a separate, dedicated barrel wound directly by the crown. It enables the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire to chime the most complex and energy-intensive time of day (or night) – namely 12 hours and 59 minutes – up to 12 times. This exceptional autonomy is due to several factors. It benefits from the contribution of a patented clutch-lever mechanism that ensures that the strikework going train is blocked, to avoid losing power reserve during the information capture that controls the minute repeater.
This autonomy is moreover also the result of Chopard Manufacture’s experience in multiple barrels. The founding movement of the L.U.C collection – L.U.C Calibre 96.01-L launched in 1997 – actually already featured Chopard Twin Technology, whose two superimposed barrels deliver long-lasting and reliable force. Since it has an autonomous energy source, the strikework systematically respects the defined rhythm, whatever the time that is chimed and however many times it chimes.
Keen to preserve the user-friendliness of the minute repeater and to make its operation as secure as possible, Chopard Manufacture has introduced a number of innovative systems. Thus, if the barrel no longer has sufficient force to power the minute repeater, a safety mechanism blocks its release. In addition, Chopard has filed and been granted a patent for a new strikework-activation device. As soon as it is activated, the pusher is disengaged, thereby making it impossible to disturb the running of the minute repeater or to damage it.
In 2019, Chopard Manufacture introduced its first self-winding flying tourbillon movement, the L.U.C 96.24-L. This chronometer-certified calibre measuring just 3.30 mm thick – equipped with L.U.C Twin Technology based on two stacked barrels and high-precision functions including a stop-seconds function – powers the new L.U.C Flying T Twin timepiece.
This exclusive 8-piece limited-edition, 42 mm-diameter model is made of ethical 18-carat white gold and skilfully set with baguette-cut sapphires. The technical and aesthetic prowess of this exceptional timepiece is acknowledged by the prestigious ‘Poinçon de Genève’ quality hallmark.
The L.U.C 96.24-L movement is equipped with a stop-seconds function enabling accurate time-setting, a rare feature on a tourbillon mechanism. This precision is certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute.
Thanks to its two stacked barrels – indicated in the watch name by the term “Twin” in reference to Chopard Twin technology –, the movement guarantees 65 hours of power reserve, and its automatic winding is ensured by a 22-carat gold micro-rotor whose density contributes to the mechanism’s overall slimness. The calibre of the L.U.C Flying T Twin visible through a transparent caseback.
Embodying a fruitful encounter between watchmaking and jewellery professions, the L.U.C Flying T Twin timepiece testifies to the mastery of the gemsetting art cultivated within Chopard’s workshops. The artisans of the Manufacture have patiently paved the case, bezel, crown and dial made of ethical 18-carat gold with hundreds of baguette-cut sapphires. In addition to the gemsetting work, the dial underwent a unique stone selection process designed to create a colour gradient fanning out from the centre. Setting the entire watch required a total of 106 hours of meticulous work on each timepiece.
A large-diameter opening at 6 o’clock offers a view right through the movement. The lightness of the flying tourbillon is thus used to create an effect of transparency and depth, while the small seconds display appears above the tourbillon carriage. The case of this new L.U.C Flying T Twin series is fitted with a hand-sewn blue alligator leather strap lined with brown alligator leather that sets the perfect finishing touch.