While it is commonly accepted that watches are mainly round – a shape guided by the way time is indicated by hands – exceptions exist. Shaped-watches are not that usual and if some tried, only a few endured. Mastering shapes is something complex, which requires a bit of talent. This year, Chopard is enlarging its L.U.C Collection (the high-end range of the brand) with a montre de forme or form-watch, based on the barrel idea… And indeed, behind this new Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru, there’s a certain wine inspiration – and overall a handsome watch.
There are a few things to know about Chopard. The brand was founded in 1860, in Sonvilier, by Louis-Ulysse Chopard and was originally known for making ladies’ watches and pocket watches. In 1963, the brand became the property of the Scheufele family (at that time managed by Karl Scheufele, a watchmaker from Pforzheim, Germany). This family have owned the company up to the present day, currently represented being Karl-Friedrich Scheufele and his sister, Caroline Scheufele (both being Co-Presidents).
Looking at Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, we can say he is a man of good tastes. You won’t be surprised to know that he is an avid watch collector and passionate about antique clocks. This passion led to the creation in 1996 of the L.U.C sub-brand (L.U.C standing for Louis-Ulysse Chopard), as a vision of what high-end watches by Chopard should be. This development also led to the creation of the Fleurier-based Chopard Manufacture, in order to create (some highly complex) in-house movements. This passion for historical pieces recently guided K.F. Scheufele to the revival of one of the greatest names of watchmaking, Ferdinand Berthoud (based on some pieces of his patiently built-up personal collection of mechanical clocks and watches).
Watches are not the only passion of Mister Scheufele. Indeed, he also has a strong passion for classic and vintage cars, which explains why he has taken part in the Mille Miglia rally since 1988 and, more recently in the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique (both sponsored by Chopard). And of course, this also explains the Mille Miglia collection by Chopard.
Last but not least, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is also a serious wine connoisseur, a passion from which emerged another business idea: “Le Caveau de Bacchus”. Under this name are three wine shops opened in Geneva, Lausanne and Gstaad. Together with his wife Christine, he also acquired the Chateau Monestier La Tour in January 2012, a wine estate in the region of Bergerac, France. And this latter passion is now the raison d’être for the watch you’re looking at today, the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru.
The Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru
The link with wine is actually not so difficult to see, especially since this watch has a tonneau-shaped case – and tonneau in French means barrel. Nice story, yet we now have to look at this Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru for what it is. This is not the first time we have a barrel-shaped watch in the L.U.C collection, which already includes the XP Tonneau. However, if the new Grand Cru watch does share some design elements with the latter, including its case, there are multiple evolutions to note, but more on that later.
The Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru comes with a barrel-shaped case made in 18k pink gold, which measures 38.5mm in width and 38.8mm in height (excluding the lugs). While many of the barrel-shaped watches have an elongated design, this Chopard is almost squared in proportions, which gives the overall watch a certain appeal and balance – and maybe a bit more presence on the wrist too, and some masculine appeal. The case is polished on flat surfaces, while the thin and rounded case-bands (the watch is quite thin at 7.74mm in thickness) are vertically brushed. Rare fact, the caseback and the crystal are slightly curved, in order to perfectly position on the wrist.
Another novelty concerns the dial, which is now made with high-gloss white lacquer looking like if it was porcelain, giving the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru a sort of antique, pocketwatch-like appeal. On this milky-white base, the large and bombé Roman numerals are transferred in black, with a few red accents, for the quarters on the small second sub-dial. The hands use the traditional fusée (rocket in French) shape of the L.U.C collection. This shape is rather daring at first but in fact blends perfectly in the overall design, by bringing a bit of eccentricity. Finally, a date is positioned at 6, and, for once, does not disturb too much the balance of the dial. This dial, while very classical at first, is more lively and detailed than it appears.
The piece de résistance of this watch is positioned on the back side. Here we find back here the well-known in-house, ultra-thin automatic movement with micro-rotor – which also equips the recently revealed XPS watches. Yet, there’s something special and clearly, highly desirable: it is shaped accordingly to the case and doesn’t stick to its usual round design. Shaped movements are rare and it is a real visual pleasure to see a tonneau-shaped version of the L.U.C 97 calibre.
Apart from its specific shape, the movement is similar to the versions we’ve seen in the past. It retains the double barrel architecture, with 65 hours of power reserve (respectable for such a thin movement – 3.30mm), the modern 4Hz frequency and the winding operated by an engraved 22k gold micro-rotor. In terms of decoration, the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is clearly on the high-end side… Just as a Grand Cru wine is classified, this new Chopard has a certified pedigree, as the movement bears the “Poinçon de Genève” and its accuracy has been controlled by the COSC (helped by the presence of a swan-neck regulator). The decoration reveals nicely executed bevelling, polishing, circular graining and Côtes de Genève.
The Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is overall a watch that combines elegance with discreet eccentricity, and a great pedigree, in terms of watchmaking savoir-faire. Of course, the tonneau-shaped case and the highly classical dial are two factors that won’t please everyone, yet it has to be tried on the wrist… Price: CHF 22,300 / EUR 21,970. More details on chopard.com.
Technical Specifications – Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru
- Case: 38.5mm x 38.8mm x 7.74mm – 18k pink gold tonneau-shaped case, polished and brushed – sapphire crystal on both faces – 30m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre L.U.C 97.01-L, in-house, Poinçon de Genève, COSC-certification – automatic winding via micro-rotor – 4Hz frequency – 65h power reserve – hours, minutes, small second, date
- Dial: White porcelain-type lacquered dial with black and red transfers
- Strap: Hand-sewn brown alligator leather strap with alligator leather lining – 18k pink gold pin buckle
- Reference: 162296-5001
- Price: CHF 22,300 / EUR 21,970