Inspired by its founding father Louis-Ulysse Chopard, Chopard’s L.U.C collection houses an ever-growing number of the brand’s finest timepieces. The brand marked an important milestone last year by releasing its first ever fully in-house perpetual calendar chronograph, the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono. By no means was this a small feat as the fledgling L.U.C collection only came to being a little over 20 years ago in 1996. This year, Chopard gives its prized L.U.C Perpetual Chrono a refreshing makeover with a new dial and case material.
Baselworld 2017: Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono
The case of the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono measures a sizeable 45 mm in diameter and 15.06 mm in thickness. For the sake of comparison, the Patek Philippe equivalent (the Ref. 5270) is 41 mm in diameter and 12.4 mm thick. Even the teutonic A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual, which also has a ‘big date’ and a flyback function, comes in at a more manageable 41 mm by 13.5 mm. There is no hiding that the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono is large although its short lugs do help in improving “wearability”. It is worth noting however that the Chopard is intended to speak a different design language, one that is bolder and less conservative, to the Patek or Lange. It was never meant to be the traditional dress piece that could slide under a dress cuff.
As with the new 2017 L.U.C Lunar One, the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono now also comes in a case made of platinum. While the flanks are vertically satin-brushed, the bezel and the top of the lugs are polished, thereby creating a splendid contrast. Interestingly, the crown and the pushers are crafted from 18 carat white gold. While the crown featuring the L.U.C logo is entirely polished, the pushers are satin-brushed on top and polished only on the bevels.
The dial of the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono is made of solid gold and is adorned with a hand-guilloché sunburst motif that creates mesmerising optical effects emanating from the ‘big date’ display at 12 o’clock. Just like the Lunar One, the dial of the Perpetual Chrono is blue, which is the colour chosen for the manufacturer’s platinum limited series. The layout of the sub-dials, which display the calendar indications and chronograph counters, are arranged with the intent to optimise legibility. As such, the day/night and leap year indicators are offset from their respective sub-dials. The downside to this is that the chronograph hours and minutes track are warped, making it slightly difficult to take readings. To help distinguish the chronograph displays from the calendar and time displays on the dial, red-tipped hands are used only for the chronograph functions – an appealing yet purposeful touch, in our opinion. The relative busyness of the sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock is strongly contrasted by the romantic orbital moon phase display that dwells within the small-seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. Chopard cuts no corners with the precision of L.U.C moon phase displays, a mere one-day deviation in 122 years in this case, fitting for a perpetual calendar timepiece.
Powering the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono is the in-house developed and manufactured Calibre 03.10-L. The 452-part, 42-jewelled movement has a commendable power reserve of 60 hours while operating at a modern 4 Hz beat rate. The Calibre 03.10-L is built around a column wheel that controls all chronograph operations, including the flyback function. Via a vertical coupling clutch, it ensures smooth yet firm activation of the timing-related components. While the chronograph parts (including the column wheel) can be viewed from the sapphire crystal case back, the perpetual calendar works are hidden under the dial, as is almost always the case with perpetual calendar chronographs. As impressive as the movement is, it is no good if its chronometric precision is significantly affected by the high number of complications running in the background. Indeed, Chopard has not neglected the chronometric precision of the Calibre 03.10-L as it is certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). Furthermore, the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono also bears the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva which in part ensures that the movement is finished to superlative standards.
Various traditional finishing techniques are evident from the case back including: Côtes de Genève of top of bridges, black polishing on screw heads and bevels, and perlage on the baseplate. These techniques require the steady hands of expert finniseurs to be executed, and especially so when the movement is rendered in nickel silver. While nickel silver is beautiful and more corrosion resistant to brass, it is also intolerant of scratches and hence very difficult to work with. Any mistake made in executing the Côtes de Genève motif, circular-graining, satin-brushing and polishing on the movement is irretrievable.
The 2017 Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono is made in a limited run of 20 pieces, just like its grey-dialled, white gold predecessor from 2016. The watch comes with a hand-sewn matt blue alligator leather strap that has brown alligator leather lining, and is matched with a platinum pin buckle.