Review: The Limited Edition Chopard L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph in Lucent Steel

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The L.U.C collection is home to Chopard’s finest, most sophisticated timepieces. It is where the brand’s high watchmaking capabilities are in full swing. The prototypical L.U.C watch is immaculately crafted and often associated with dressy elegance. The casual, sporty stuff is typically reserved for the likes of the Mille Miglia and Alpine Eagle, Chopard’s racing-inspired and sports watch collections, respectively. That said, once in a blue moon, you do get an L.U.C release that is more relaxed and modern in design. One extreme example is the L.U.C Skull One and its DLC-coated, bead-blasted case, calfskin strap, and skull motif. Evidently, Chopard have no qualms spicing up its supposedly formal haute horlogerie wing.

Chopard L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph

Last year, Chopard introduced a new chronograph timepiece for the L.U.C collection that oozes flair and charisma. In addition to the finesse expected of L.U.C timepieces, the watch in question can also be described as sporty, casual, and neo-vintage in design. Yes, we’re talking about the green-dialed L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph, currently the only chronograph-only timepiece in the L.U.C collection.

The Case, Dial, and Hands

The case of the L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph is rendered in Chopard’s proprietary steel alloy: Lucent Steel. Known for its superior hardness, luminosity and dermo-compatability over other steels, Lucent Steel is the perfect case material for a casual chronograph like the L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph. Accentuating the sportiness of the watch are two pump pushers on the flank of the case, as well as its 42 mm diameter and 14.55 mm thickness. The short, downturned lugs help ensure that the watch doesn’t wear larger than it looks. The alternating polished and brushed satin finish of the case is easy on the eyes and adds to the sporty elegance of the L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph.

Chopard’s Lucent Steel shines like white gold while being much more durable than conventional stainless steel.

Arguably the most eye-catching part of the watch has to be the dial. Executed in green, the dial is adorned with a sunburst pattern emanating from the ‘L.U. CHOPARD’ logo. And almost as prominent as the green dial is the lack of a date display which will undoubtedly win many purist hearts. While the date complication is immensely practical, dial purity is often sacrificed in its wake. No such problem here on the L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph and, as a result, the dial is satisfyingly balanced and clean. Like many simple chronograph watches, two chronograph counters – one for the hours and one for the minutes – are placed at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions, respectively. A third sub-dial that displays the running seconds dwells at 6 o’clock. What really completes the balance of the dial are the minutes/chronograph seconds markers. Four in the top half and four in the bottom half of the dial, the double digited markers graduate from 05 to 60. This, of course, was designed to be reminiscent of a car dashboard rev counter. Indicating the time in hours and minutes are Chopard’s signature dauphine fusee hands. Meanwhile, the small seconds, chronograph minutes and chronograph hours are indicated by classic dauphine hands.

Completing the look of the L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph is a light brown calfskin strap, bridle-stitched with green thread to match the dial. All the elements combined, the watch exudes a neo-vintage vibe that is immensely charming.

The sub-dials are recessed for greater definition.

The Movement

Driving the L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph is the 283-part, 38-jewel Calibre L.U.C 03.07-L. The Calibre L.U.C 03.07-L is a descendant of the L.U.C 03.03-L, which was the first chronograph movement to be produced within the maison’s workshops. The most obvious differences between the two movements are the lack of date and winding rotor in the former. The L.U.C 03.07-L also has flyback functionality, activated via the pump pusher at 4 o’clock. There is also the nifty zero-reset function that triggers when the crown is pulled out, enabling precise synchronisation with a reference time. The movement has a respectable 60 hours of power reserve and operates at a modern 4 Hz frequency. As indicated by the inscription beneath the L.U. CHOPARD logo on the dial, the Calibre L.U.C 03.07-L is COSC chronometre-certified.

The Calibre L.U.C 03.07-L as seen through the sapphire crystal case back.

The finissage of the Calibre L.U.C 03.07-L is no less nuanced than its mechanics. Rhodium-plated bridges, yokes, levers and column wheel stand out against the gilded backdrop. A myriad of techniqes is employed to adorn every level of the movement: perlage for the base plate, straight-graining for the chronograph components, and Geneva waves for the nickel silver bridges. The edges of these bridges have been beveled and polished to a sheen. Numerous sharp outward angles – and a singular inward angle – can be seen, which is a good sign that a movement has been afforded plenty of love by its watchmaker(s). It is perhaps unsurprising then that the movement is stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva, which encompasses not just movement finishing, but also overall functionality and build quality of the watch.

The Competitive Landscape

The chronograph market is as competitive as it gets, so brands are compelled to make certain that their offerings stand out in the right way. With the L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph, Chopard have approached this conundrum by going the neo-vintage route. By wedding the best of both worlds, the brand is likely to appeal to the widest range of customers, at least in theory. To Chopard’s credit, the L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph does appear competitive. The assertive aesthetics of the watch, backed by fine craftsmanship and watchmaking, is a potent combination. It also helps that the watch is limited to only 25 pieces and fairly priced, at USD32,300.

The watch is perfectly proportioned and sits securely on the average wrist.

Evidently, Chopard aren’t the only ones leveraging the draw of neo-vintage aesthetics for their chronographs. In 2022, Patek Philippe unveiled the Ref. 5172G-010, a salmon-dialed beauty with an incredibly nuanced case. Highlights of the timepiece include the fluted pump pushers, the tiered Art Deco lugs, anthracite syringe hands, and the old-school font for all the scales, not to mention the surprisingly advanced Calibre CH 29-535 PS. Crafted in white gold, the Ref. 5172G-010 was priced at CHF68,000 on its debut.

Patek Philippe Chronograph Ref. 5172G-010

Another option not to be missed is the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100. While its trendy bronze alloy case and liberal use of fauxtina suggest a contemporary watch, everything else screams vintage, from the box crystal and onion crown to the historical Minerva and Montblanc logos. Even the 46 mm diameter of the case is consistent with Minerva pilot’s watches of old. Like every Minerva chronograph watch, the best part is always the movement and this one – hidden behind a hunter case back – is no different. Limited to 100 pieces as its name suggests, the 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 was priced at around EUR30,000 when it was first presented three years ago.

Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100

Concluding Thoughts

While the current L.U.C collection does feature other chronograph watches, the 1963 Heritage Chronograph is the only one that isn’t combined with other complications like the perpetual calendar. Instead of playing it safe, Chopard have chosen to go all out on a charm offensive, a move which tends to polarise opinion. In other words, you’ll either love it or hate it. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, one thing remains a certainty, and that’s the craftsmanship of the piece. Given the competitive pricing and limited production of the watch, expect it to be snapped up real quickly.


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