Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Edition - MacroMonday
There is a strong sense of romanticism when you talk about a timepiece from the L.U.C collection. That’s the correct way to write the name of this collection (there are two full stops after the L and the C, three letters that are the initials of the founders’ name; Louis Ulysse Chopard). This is Chopard’s iconic collection as a timepiece manufacturer, the turning point when the brand became a manufacturer of mechanic movements to then expand its new nature to other more sporty collections. It was a difficult move, mainly because Chopard is famous for crafting jewels as well so it was even harder for the brand to be successful as a manufacturer of watches devoted to fine connoisseurs.
The year 2016 was extremely important for Chopard, it marked the brand’s 20 years as a true manufacture and the release of an impressive amount of watches. The latest Mille Miglia, with its wonderful caliber, has immediately made all the brand’s past production look tired and aged and it was the first Chopard reviewed on Horbiter after the 2016 Basel event , the GMT One and the Time Traveller One, recently introduced by Matteo, and a long series of exceptionally complicated watches that started off with the Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Edition and finished with the ultra complicated timepieces that perfectly describe the high level of quality that the Swiss brand has reached when it comes to designing big complications. Before the end of the year, we will cover all of these items on Horbiter’s pages. The Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Edition celebrates the first 20 years of the manufacturer as said, only 250 pieces of this timepiece will be released and its name also includes Chopard’s foundation year.
From an aesthetic point of view, this is a three hands with a strong attitude, a classic one that aims to highlight the richness of the gold-made case and the value of the made-in-Chopard horlogerie items. To be more precise, a Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Edition is neither as “sober” as a Girard-Perregaux 1966 nor as overly decorated as a Breguet Classique, it is, ideally, something in between these two timepieces. Choices are not dictated by those understatement rules that are quite in fashion at the moment but rather by the richness concepts that are typical of the Swiss classic horlogerie school and are interpreted in a personal manner. The dial is simple and so is the inner complication, what is not simple is the crafting, you only need to look at the gold applied indices and their elaborated shape to realize that.
If you zoom in the dial, you will see that the whole central part is decorated with a guilloché motif that is rather complex and entirely hand-made. Indices, counters and the big 12 crafted using Arabic numbers are a clear reference to the “dauphine” design that has been revisited using Chopard’s style language. Whoever is familiar with this brand and the L.U.C collection, will agree that a L.U.C is easily identifiable and this particular L.U.C, despite the rather un-complicated looks, has an easily identifiable style. This was definitely one of the main objectives of the manufacturer, who tried to communicate its personal design to the outside style so that this timepiece could be spotted at first sight among the thousands of references that have flooded the market.
First, you identify a timepiece, and then you can evaluate its general characteristics that allow you to technically distinguish it from the rest. The term “Chronometer” that appears on the dial is not only reminding us of the COSC-certification held by this timepiece as a stand-alone-feature but it should be seen as article number 7 of the official rules that regulate the awarding of the “Seal of Geneva”. As you can see in this picture, the seal is slightly out of focus because the photographer aimed the focus of their objective to the “col-de-cygne” (swan neck) regulating system, the symbol of the Seal is engraved on one of the bridges of the L.U.C 96.01-L; a tangible proof of the high level of crafting and manufacturing that this caliber can boast and that the majority of the competitors’ calibers within the same range cannot boast. Even if you are not familiar with the Seal, you will realize that the manufacturing level of this caliber is on a complete different level than that of an industrial caliber; it is a hand-made caliber that has been crafted abiding by specific aesthetic and technical requirements, and that has undergone final inspections by a third body.
What is not regulated by the certificate is the result of Chopard’s choices, among which is the decision to adopt a micro-rotor that makes all the purists – like me – agree by making the looks, the thickness, the movement feeling, and the timepiece itself closer to the requirements of those manual winding watches from the past. On the other hand, there is also who sees this automatic winding system as a choice that doesn’t allow any coming backs or sense of nostalgia. The final result is a 40mm case that is only 7.2mm thick. It is an authentic feast for the eyes; Cotes de Genéve decorations on the bridges and well visible and polished bevels, a “col-de-cygne” adjusting system as stated above, a 22-carat-gold micro-rotor with fine decorations.
This caliber represents, from an aesthetic and technical point of view the best you can wish for (it is equipped with two winding barrels that guarantee up to 65 hours of power reserve). In my opinion, one step ahead this, there is only the very same architecture interpreted through manual winding. The case might appear simple but is quite satisfying nevertheless; the bezel is thick and polished, the lugs are thin, elongated and with a prominent gap that breaks the circular geometry of the case. Last but not least there are other features that show the excellent level of crafting of this timepiece; the brushing on the case-side and the crown where a bass-relief of the L.U.C logo has been engraved as if it were indicating a brand within the brand. Priced at 19.950 euro, the Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Edition is the umpteenth milestone from a great watchmaker and a very strong competitor in the field of "haute-horlogerie".
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)
Gaetano C @Horbiter