With the L.U.C Full Strike, Chopard Watches’ high-end collection welcomes a minute repeater, a complication never explored by the brand, and launched as the crowning point of the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the Chopard Manufacture. We’ve seen some tourbillons, some perpetual calendars with chronograph, super slim and eco-friendly watches previously, but never a striking watch. At first glance you could easily imagine that this is just another minute repeater, nicely-designed and superbly finished but nothing really spectacular (relatively speaking of course, a minute repeater is always a little spectacular…). However, this Chopard L.U.C Full Strike features something entirely new and innovative, which makes it different from any other minute repeater we’ve seen before.
As a watch from Chopard’s high-end collection – and we all know that these are pretty good watches, to say the least – you can safely assume the L.U.C Full Strike will be quite a watch. The thought of having Chopard’s expertise dedicated to one of the most complex mechanisms in watchmaking is an exciting one to say the least. A 42.5mm (diameter) x 11.5mm (thickness) case in Fairmined rose gold, a complex movement, exquisite finishing, and an elegant, yet technical look… The Chopard L.U.C Full Strike is a visually and horogically appealing watch. There’s no doubt about it.
Though, that’s not what should tickle your interest here. Something much more fascinating is hidden right at the heart of this watch, a unique feature that improves the volume and the quality of the sound produced by the minute repeater mechanism – and with such a watch, that’s the main thing we are looking for: a crystal clear and highly audible sound. “Crystal clear” being the key term here – but more on that later. The Chopard L.U.C Full Strike is a partially open-worked watch that exposes much of its inner-workings to the wearer and nearby observers. The dial, or what’s left of it, consists primarily of a partial hour ring to read the time – yes, besides being a minute repeater, it is a watch, so not only must you be able to hear the time but also to read it…
There are also two central hands, one small second sub-dial at 6 and one power reserve indicator between 2 and 3 o’clock. That’s all, and that’s enough. However, one element is a bit more complex: the power reserve. Because the mechanism to run the minute repeater requires a lot of energy, the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike is equipped with two barrels: one for the time and one for the striking mechanism. Both are equipped with a slipping spring, as used in self-winding movements, in order to ensure that winding operations are not impeded by an overwound spring. If you are familiar with the concept of a minute repeater (and if not, please read this technical article), you might have noticed something unusual here. In a normal repeater watch, the energy is provided by a winding lever, usually found on the caseband (which serves as both a energy generator and an activator for the striking). In this case, the energy is stored in a barrel wound by the crown – and this is why the repeater is actuated by an elegant and discreet pusher in the crown.
Furthermore, the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike is equipped with a special system for indicating the twin power reserves, composed of two co-axially fitted hands. The first gilded one indicates the movement power reserve, while the other blue one indicates the number of chimes that can be activated. The latter indication is not there for information purposes only, since it also serves as a basis for one of the many security systems protecting the watch. The striking mechanism power reserve is coupled with a semi-toothed wheel. When the reserve drops too low, it deactivates the minute repeater chime, thus ensuring that the watch cannot sound fully, due to the lack of energy.
Talking about mechanics, the movement, comprising no less than 533 parts, is finished with great attention to detail, and bears the Hallmark of Geneva. Bridges and main-plate, in German silver, are finished with Geneva stripes and are hand beveled and polished, with internal angles. The parts that compose the striking mechanism are visible on the front side and, again, finishing is impressive. The two hammers are in steel, black polished and beveled. The movement runs at 4Hz and boasts 60 hours of power reserve. Finally, it is chronometer certified by the COSC.
So, what is unique about this watch? Why is it different from any other minute repeater we’ve seen before? This movement in fact required 17,000 Hours of research and development and comes with 3 patents. Let’s see in detail why we dared to call it the Minute Repeater Reinvented:
- Energy management – As we’ve seen, the energy for the striking mechanism is stored in a barrel, and not generated by the actuation of a trigger – just like in a Grande Sonnerie watch. The crown serves to wind the movement in one direction, and its striking mechanism in the other. It also allows a pusher construction which is more discreet.
- Silent and fast mechanism – with an almost inaudible strike governor (which usually emits a humming sound). While components used for the striking mechanism sometimes make a clicking sound at the end of the tune, the L.U.C Full Strike does no such thing. A new architecture of the movement allows for the avoidance of silences between the hours being struck, the quarters being struck and the minutes being struck. A chime is generally punctuated by long silences. Not here. The structure of calibre L.U.C 08.01-L enables it to skip these silences automatically. Its hours, quarters and minutes gear trains are superimposed and mutually drive each other. When one has completed its task, it automatically triggers the next, maintaining a constant cadence.
- Unique Sapphire Crystal Gongs (!!!) – Traditionally, minute repeater gongs are made of steel or gold segments which vibrate when struck, formed around the movement in a circle and fine tuned by watchmakers to achieve the desired note. The L.U.C Full Strike is unique in that it is equipped with sapphire gongs. Moreover, Chopard has decided to create a gong module and not separate gongs, as is typically done. The gongs and watch glass are in fact machined together from a single sapphire block. The gongs are tuned to two notes: C and F.
The result is a sound that is reportedly full-bodied and truly crystal-clear – look on social media, some videos of the watch are already published (see here, on the official account of Chopard) and, really, it sounds superb. Precise, rich and fast. Impressive.
Overall, we can only applaud Chopard for this watch: superbly designed, highly technical, and with the addition of ultra-innovative sapphire gongs, leading to a result that is truly impressive. It is really pleasing to say the least. Such beauty has a price though: 265,000 Swiss Francs, limited to 20 pieces. chopard.com.
Specifications of the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike
- Case: 42.5mm x 11.55mm – Fairmined 18k Rose Gold, polished and brushed surfaces – Sapphire crystal on both sides
- Movement: Calibre L.U.C 08.01-L, in-house produced – COSC certified / Hallmark of Geneva – manual wind – 60h power reserve – 4Hz frequency – hours, minutes, seconds, double power reserve, minute repeater with unique and patented sapphire crystal gongs, integrated in the top sapphire
- Strap: hand-sewn double-sided alligator leather with 18k Rose Gold pin-buckle