When you say Chopard and chronograph, you certainly have in mind the Mille Miglia or the Superfast collections, sporty and race-oriented luxury watches – but not high-end, haute horlogerie pieces. What Chopard launched this year at Baselworld 2016 is a tiny bit different – to say the least. The brand came to the international watch fair with a pure complex watch, an in-house, traditionally built chronograph movement combined with a perpetual calendar function and all of that certified by the Hallmark of Geneva – and because times are about fair trade production, it also happens to be maid in Fairmined gold. Here is the new and high-end Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono.
The new Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono is a real connoisseur piece and such combination of complications, in such a high-end, refined execution is rather rare. Think in-house, traditional column-wheel chronograph combined to a perpetual calendar with a haute-horlogerie manufacturing… What are the potential candidates? Of course, there’s the icon, the Lange & Sohne Datograph Perpetual. There’s another icon, the Patek Philippe Ref. 5270. The latest could be the Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Chronograph Perpetual Calendar. Not the worst watches to consider if you have over 100,000 Euros to spend. Well, there’s now a new contender in the battle, in the name of the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono – and it has some serious arguments to fight against the others: in-house movement, column-wheel / vertical clutch chronograph, Hallmark of Geneva, perpetual calendar with big date, superb and original design, decent price tag (relatively speaking) and it even respects fair trade rules.
As you can see, the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono has some arguments. In terms of design (and this remains of course completely subjective), it brings a certain uniqueness and modernity, compared to three very classical competitors. The case, made in Fairmined 18k white gold (coming from Peru, Bolivia or Columbia-based mining cooperatives – and the first time Chopard uses Fairmined white gold), shows a nice execution with flat surfaces polished and brushed flanks. The originality comes from the direction of the brushing, which is vertical and not horizontal like most of the watches. The case however remains large, at 45mm x 15.06mm – a thickness enhanced by the straight shape of the casebands. Some will find it too large (compared to the 42mm of the Patek or the 41mm of the Lange) and some will appreciate a more modern and sportier look.
The dial of the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono also differentiates from the crowd via its look and its layout. The background of the dial is ruthenium plated (so dark grey) with a sun ray, hand-guilloché pattern, starting from the center of the Chopard logo. The indexes, applied on the dial, are modern and sculptural Roman numeral. The originality of this piece comes from the layout and shape of the sub-dials. The indications displayed are: time on the central axis, small second and moon-phase at 6, large date at 12, chronograph second on the central axis. Until now, easy. Then come the two other sub-dials. At 3, you’ll find the 30-minute counter, with in its centre the indication of the day of the week and attached on the top the indication of the leap year. At 9, you’ll have the 12-hour counter with in its centre the month and attached on top the day / night indicator.
This “fancy” look is due by the choice of Choaprd not to cut the track and to make them going around all the indications. A strange choice maybe but something that creates a very distinctive look – which in the end remains rather easy to read. Of course, as always in such combination of a chronograph and a perpetual calendar, the dial looks complex and rather clustered. But here it has some appeal and remains different from all the other brands.
In the tradition of the Chopard L.U.C Collection, the movement of the Perpetual Chrono is superbly executed and comes with interesting features. When looked from the back, it is a traditional, manual-winding movement, operated with a column-wheel (noblesse oblige…). However, this entirely in-house movement is a modern one, as you can see from the shape of the bridges and chronograph levers. It also features a vertical clutch (which guarantee a instant start of the chronograph second hand without jump…) and a flyback feature. It ticks at a modern frequency (4Hz) and boasts 60 hours of power reserve. The perpetual calendar module is added on the top and the moon-phase indicator is precise for the coming 122 years.
In terms of finishing, first note that the movement of the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono is certified by the Hallmark of Geneva. Thus, it is real haute-horlogerie and a proper chronometer that you’ll invest in. The bridges and main-plate are manufactured in untreated German Silver (which gives this distinctive warm colour to the movement). bridges and wheels are chamfered by hand, main-plate is circular grained, steel parts are also beveled and grained… It is very pleasant to look at.
Considering the functions it features, considering its high-end finishing and the look of the watch, Chopard did quite a good job and could potentially have an interesting alternative to the 3 watches we mentioned earlier (Patek, Lange & Vacheron). The Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono is definitely a bold watch, with its large case and its unique dial (some will love, some won’t…) but Chopard doest have to be ashamed of the level of execution and the technology. This even truer when considering the price – 83,730 Euros – when the others are all positioned over 120,000 Euros. Not bad, right. Limited Edition of 20 pieces. Also available in Fairmined 18k pink gold. More details on Chopard.com.