The L.U.C collection, as we know it today, is the fruit of Manufacture Chopard’s longstanding endeavors in fine watchmaking. Its existence began in 1996 with the introduction of the L.U.C 1860, a time-and-date-only watch that many deemed to be a magnum opus of classical watch design. The seminal timepiece was driven by the Geneva Seal and COSC-certified Calibre 96.01-L, the first movement created by the manufacture after its founding, and a movement that would later serve as a blueprint for future L.U.C calibres.
Review: Chopard L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25
This year, the acclaimed L.U.C line celebrates its 25th birthday. For this occasion, Chopard has prepared a worthy anniversary timepiece that is the culmination of the manufacture’s watchmaking know-how: the L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25.
Entirely in-house manufactured, the Quattro Spirit 25 is the brand’s first watch with the jumping hours function. But there’s more to the piece than a jumping hours display. Here, we bring you the low-down and our thoughts on the new Chopard L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The case of the of the L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 measures a contemporary 40 mm in diameter and 10.3 mm in height. Chopard has been using 100% ethical Fairmined gold for years now in all its jewelry and watches, and the gold used in the Quattro Spirit 25 is no exception. Its ethical 18-carat rose gold case features distinctly rounded shapes inspired by the hunter-type cases of the pocket watches once designed by Louis-Ulysse Chopard, the brand’s founder. While the flanks are given a vertical satin finish, the rest of the case – including the lugs, crown and bezel – are polished, resulting in a striking yet pleasing contrast.
But as praiseworthy as the case is, nothing beats the visage of this watch. First, the dial: pristine and luscious. The pure white dial is entirely produced in-house by Manufacture Chopard’s enameling artisan. Crafted on an 18-carat rose gold base, the grand feu enameled dial is fired several times at extreme temperatures of up to 820 degrees Celsius. It is then lightly polished to give it a gently domed appearance that creates unique light interactions. Using black enamels, the artisan then uses the same process to reproduce the “L.U.CHOPARD” logo along with the railway-track circle and Arabic numerals indicating the minutes. Indeed, the entire dial is enamel, not merely ink printed onto white enamel.
The main talking point of the dial is, of course, the ‘hybridised’ way that it tells time. While the minutes are indicated the conventional way by means of a dauphine hand, the hours are displayed on a disc through an aperture at 6 o’clock. The rose gold aperture frame serves to accentuate the sobriety of the large black Arabic numerals.
As a time-telling device, the Quattro Spirit 25 fulfils its duty to the tee. The black-on-white colour scheme of its dial means that it is exceptionally legible. The fact that there is only one hand and one aperture display on the dial means that there is neither clutter nor distraction. As an anniversary piece, it also ticks the right boxes. While the jumping hour functionality is nothing new in watchmaking, it is uncommon enough that when you do see it, it still fascinates you. Moreover, it is also a Chopard first. The novelty of the jumping hour in the L.U.C collection, combined with the beauty of an enamel dial, makes the Quattro Spirit 25 a worthy and fitting celebratory timepiece.
Driving the Quattro Spirit 25 is the 240-part, 42-jewel Calibre L.U.C 98.06-L. The movement is one of few with jumping hours (a power-hungry technical complication) to offer up to eight days of power reserve.
Thanks to the four stacked and series-coupled barrels based on Chopard’s Quattro technology, the L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 maintains a reserve above 190 hours despite the amount of energy required for the rotation of the hours disc. The movement is manually wound and operates at a modern 4 Hz frequency. It is also equipped with a swan neck regulator (found on the balance bridge) for fine adjustment and and a hairspring with a Phillips terminal curve that controls the oscillation of the balance.
The fine craftsmanship devoted to the L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 has earned it the Hallmark of Geneva. It guarantees not only the quality, precision and reliability of the movement and the watch as a whole, but also ensures that the assembly was carried out in the canton of Geneva. The high level of finishing afforded to the calibre L.U.C 98.06-L plays a significant role as well. Looking through the sapphire crystal case back, one will find movement bridges entirely adorned with Geneva waves, edges that a immaculately bevelled and polished, engravings filled with gold and screw heads mirror polished to a blinding sheen.
The Competitive Landscape
The Quattro Spirit 25 as a whole makes for a meaningful anniversary piece. It showcases the absolute quality watchmaking that has always been signature to the L.U.C collection. To be entirely in-house manufactured, from case and dial to movement, is a rarity even today and goes to reiterate what Manufacture Chopard is capable of. And importantly, it features elements that make the watch memorable, like the atypical time display, and the fully enameled dial. You’d be hard pressed to find a jumping hour timepiece at this calibre. The L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 is made in a limited edition of 100 pieces and is priced at SGD61,700.
If the Quattro Spirit 25 doesn’t stand out enough for you, an excellent alternative would be none other than the Bovet Amadeo Fleurier Virtuoso V. Much like its Chopard counterpart, the Virtuoso V only tells the time and does so with a minute hand plus jumping hour display. The key differences here are that the minutes are retrograde and the hour display is slightly larger. The dial on the Virtuoso V is also guilloched and blue lacquered. Rendered in red gold, the case is noticeably larger as well at 43.5 x 15.7 mm. The proprietary Amadeo case allows the wearer to easily go from wristwatch to pocket watch or table clock, without any specialised tool or knowledge. With a substantial power reserve of five days, the Virtuoso V in red gold is priced in the ballpark of SGD100,000.
Yet another alternative to the Quattro Spirit 25 that must be considered is the IWC Tribute to Pallweber “150 Years”. The jubilee watch has not only a jumping hours display, but also jumping minutes – a rare combination in the mechanical watchmaking world. The main downside of the Tribute to Pallweber, in our opinion, is its unwieldy 45 mm case. The reason for such a large case is likely to maximise the size – and therefore legibility – of the time display. Case sizing notwithstanding, the Tribute to Pallweber is an immensely charming watch in terms of design and mechanics, and a fitting tribute timepiece to Austrian watchmaker Josef Pallweber. The watch was also designed with relative “value for money” in mind, with the stainless steel version of the watch priced under USD25,000.
The Quattro Spirit 25 is one of the more atypical L.U.C timepieces to be released in recent years, which makes it an ideal anniversary piece. Of course, the watch is more than just the novelty of its jumping hours functionality; it is backed by solid design, impeccable craftsmanship and expert watchmaking, all of which are conducted in-house.
With the Quattro Spirit 25, Chopard continues to remind us that it is more than just a high jewelry brand, that it is also a force to be reckoned with in high-end watchmaking.
Photographed in the Chopard offices in Singapore. Hasselblad H3D-39 with HC 4/120 and HC 2.8/80 with H28 extension tube. Profoto strobes.