As a self confessed watch nut I am very fortunate to be able to indulge in this fairly expensive hobby through reasonable financial means and an understanding wife. Having frequented on line forums for many years now I have come across many other like minded people who are also fortunate to be in this position. However, I am in the extremely fortunate position to be handed brand new high end timepieces on a regular basis for me to wear and inspect at my own leisure at home. This is as a result of writing articles such as the one you are reading now for the generous soles at Andrew Michaels Jewellers.
I often get to wax lyrical about quality of fit and finish and the expensive and exotic material used for some of the watches within my possession. I have reviewed watches that are incredibly robust, or beautifully finished, or very aesthetically pleasing. However, I have never had the pleasure in the past to draw upon the ultimate adjective for a luxury item. That pinnacle of superlatives being “exquisite”. This changed the instance I had the pleasure of handling and trying on Chopards LUC Twist last year.
I had been aware of Chopard’s aspirations, mainly driven by their Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, to build on their lofty position as ‘manufacture’, which they achieved in 1996. The most prestigious tribute a Genevan manufacture can be granted is the Geneva Seal. Chopard achieved this with the Calibre 1.96 which resides within the stunning case of the L.U.C. Twist. Those associated with me will easily attest to the fact that I am not renowned for spontaneous displays of emotion. Even still I could not help but declare my undying love for this simply gorgeous, and exquisite, timepiece upon first setting eyes upon its face and rear.
To fill in a few gaps in the above heartfelt testimonial I shall explain that the Geneva Seal is the official seal of the city of Geneva.
For a movement to be admitted for the Geneva Seal the following three requirements must be fulfilled:
1 The mechanical movements of watches constructed in accordance with the best practices of the watch industry and whose construction is in conformity with the directions given to the controller to set the minimum level required for good workmanship are punched.
2 It is required that the assembly and adjustment are carried out in the canton of Geneva. The guarantee of work carried out is attested by a signed form by the submitter or manufacturers. This form must accompany the movements presented for inspection.
3 Movements carrying the punch of Geneva must be numbered.
Information sourced from Wikipedia
Once this admittance is granted the movement must adhere to the following 12 rules of manufacture and finishing.
1 The good workmanship of all the parts of the caliber, including those of the additional mechanisms, must be in conformity with the requirements of the office of voluntary inspection of the watches from Geneva. Steel parts must have polished angles and their visible surfaces smoothed down. Screw heads must be polished, with their slots and rims chamfered.
2 The entire movement must be jewelled with ruby jewels set in polished holes, including the going train and escape wheel. On the bridge side, the jewels must be olive-drilled with polished sinks. The jewel of the center wheel on the main plate is not required.
3 The hairspring should be pinned in a grooved plate with a stud having a rounded collar and cap. Mobile studs are permitted.
4 Split or fitted indexes are allowed with a holding system except in extra-thin calibers where the holding system is not required.
5 regulating systems with balance with radius of variable gyration are allowed insofar as they meet the conditions of article 3, subparagraph 1.
6 The wheels of the going train must be chamfered above and below and have a polished sink. In wheels 0.15 mm thick or less, a single chamfer is allowed on the bridge side.
7 In wheel assemblies, the pivot shanks and the faces of the pinion leaves must be polished.
8 The escape wheel has to be light, not more than 0.16 mm thick in large calibers and 0.13 mm in calibers under 18mm, and its locking-faces must be polished.
9 The angle traversed by the pallet lever is to be limited by fixed banking walls and not pins or studs.
10 Shock protected movements are accepted.
11 The ratchet and crown wheels must be finished in accordance with registered patterns.
12 Wire springs are not allowed.
Details sourced from Wikipedia.
These extraordinary, almost obsessive, requirements of the watchmaker result in the most aesthetically appealing, perfectly finished and technically reliable movements available from the city most renowned for its highest of high end watch manufacturers. This level of finish is so demanding only a handful of manufactures have movements that are stamped with the Geneva Seal.
As expected, this extra level of employment on the watch does not come cheap because the very few watchmakers with the skill to produce this work satisfactorily will be paid highly for their unique hand skills.
The L.U.C. in the title of all of the manufacture timepieces from Chopard refer to the founder of the company, Louis-Ulysse Chopard. Manufacture obviously relating to the fact that these movements are conceived and built entirely by Chopard. Contrary to most people’s awareness of Chopard they started out in watch making and not jewellery. Louis-Ulysse created his first pocket watches in Sontvillier in 1860. These timepieces quickly gained a strong world-wide reputation for accuracy and reliability. Chopard, as a company, continued to be a family run establishment until 1963 when the Scheufele family bought and ran this high end jewellery and watch manufacturer. The Schuefele’s remain the owners and Presidents of the company.
The L.U.C. Twist is so called because the crown and sub-seconds dial are marginally offset to their normal positions of 3 O’clock and 6 O’clock, respectively. This is due to the fact that Chopard found that the micro-winding rotor was most efficient in the position that this would place it in relation to the wearer’s wrist. Not convinced? Well, just think that the crown is now in a more comfortable position and the dial is now more interesting and less generic.
Fast forward a year or so and a good friend of mine, David Gilmour, was looking to buy himself a nice dress watch. My friend David has an impressive collection of sports watches and wanted to add something that he would wear when dressed up to go out. Something that was fit for this very purpose only. Something special that would reflect his frame of mind when he was allowed to remove the fuss and nonsense of his everyday working life and simply was allowed to be.
After my first introduction to the Chopard Twist, mentioned above, I graphically remonstrated with David that this was one of the best value for money dress watches out there, when consideration was given to materials, hand finishing and design. Sadly, like me, David could not justify to himself or his wife that he could spend over £10,000 on the LUC Twist, which would effectively be just a “going out” watch. Fortunately, for him Chopard have created the L.U.C. Classic in Stainless Steel, which is a lot less than half of the price but still demands the adjective, exquisite.
David agreed with me that the L.U.C. movements are all desirable and, actually, do offer good value for money when compared with similar manufactures. He immediately knew that he had found what he was searching for when he got to try on the L.U.C. Classic he has kindly lent me to feature here.
So, let’s have a look at some of the exquisite details of the Chopard L.U.C. Classic:
The first appealing attribute of the LUC Classic that strikes you is the beautiful dial:
There is an intrinsic cleverness about the design of the silver dial. It is at once simple and highly detailed. It is simple in a classic way which allows for the time and date to be read at ease. Everything is in its place and there is nothing superfluous. The cleverness is in the way each component compliments the others. There are a lot of individual components that have been afforded high levels of attention. This dial will remain tasteful forever. Fashion has nothing to do with it and never will. Classic by name, etc, etc.
The individual details include applied silver numerals at 12 O’clock, 9 O’clock and 3 O’clock.
The chapter ring has applied indices, as well as the numerals above, and is brushed which contrasts wonderfully with the sunburst finish of the inner dial. The light refracts differently of each at any time with the result that you end up with three silvered effects when you include the highly polished case.
The seconds sub-dial is very slightly oblique. This allows the date to be a legible size and yet not overwhelm the subdial. Yet again another finish is applied to the silver subdial, providing its own hue. It is set into the main dial to give a nice depth.
The hands are highly polished and allow the time to be read easily at all angles. They are substantial without looking like plated ladder rungs. There is no luminosity material applied but this would detract from the overall classic look in my opinion and it’s unlikely you would wear this watch in situations where you are desperate to know the time when it is pitch black.
The leather strap has a substantial buckle that is detailed with a raised Chopard. It offers an attractive way of giving security for the strap.
The crown has the LUC motif which hints at the reason why this watch is not simply beautiful on the face of it.
This is because upon turning the watch over you are rewarded with the LUC manufacture movement. This 3.96 movement uses the base calibre of the 1.96 movement with the Geneva Seal as discussed above. Put simply this is the very same double barrel, micro-rotor movement as the 1.96 but without the final finishing details that are required to achieve the Geneva Seal.
A requisite of all dress watches is that it has to be comfortable and unobtrusive. The diameter of the LUC Classic is 39.5mm which allows it to be legible at a glance (not that you wouldn’t want to stare) and is in no way overbearing on the wrist. It will happily sit beneath a shirt cuff.
In conclusion, what we have here with the Chopard LUC Classic is a luxurious watch that will appeal to those looking for something that is purely indulgent. It provides something stunning to look at both from the front and the rear. This is due to the attention to detail and superb finishing applied to the dial and the clever beautifully finished movement that provides 65 hours of power reserve within its double barrels and maintained by the 22K microrotor. It is a timepiece that will continue to look fresh and provide accurate timekeeping for as long as the owner wishes. The Chopard LUC Classic is a subtle wrist watch, in today’s levels of uber-designed behemoths, to any onlooker but an object of pure desire and indulgence for the owner. Truly exquisite.
I can offer no greater testimonial than my wife’s, who declared that the Chopard LUC Classic was the most beautiful and stylish watch I had ever been lent for review. These are strong words indeed as my wife is notorious for being finicky. In fact she turned down many an advance from potential suitors before clapping eyes on me.
My sincerest gratitude goes to David for lending me his Chopard LUC Classic for this review.
All words and pictures by Richard Atkins (unless otherwise stated). Please ask if you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article.