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Review: Twisted Beauty – The Chopard L.U.C XPS Twist QF

by Frank Chuo on October 21, 2019

Maison Chopard, founded in 1860 by Louis-Ulysse Chopard, is historically known as a manufacturer of quality timepieces. Eventually evolving into makers of fine jewellery as well, it wasn’t until the introduction of the first L.U.C timepiece that Chopard’s reputation as a serious watchmaker was reinvigorated. Chopard’s L.U.C movements brought it much recognition and acclaim from the watch community and continue to define the manufacturer’s highest level of watchmaking. One of the most elegant timepieces in the L.U.C collection has been the L.U.C XPS Twist QF, first introduced in 2017 in pink gold. This year at Baselworld, Chopard presented a new variation to the model that sees the use of a different case material, colour palette, and dial surface finish. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on the new L.U.C XPS Twist QF in white gold.

The Case, Dial, and Hands

The case of the new L.U.C XPS Twist is crafted in 18k white, ethically-certified “Fairmined” gold. At 40 mm in diameter, the watch is neither too big for the traditionalist nor too small for the modernist. Its 7.7 mm thickness is perfect for a dress watch, ensuring that it slides under even the tightest of dress cuffs. The case features contrasting surface finishes, with the bezel and top of the lugs polished, and the flanks satin finished. The signature design elements of the L.U.C XPS Twist are its offset crown and seconds sub-dial. The former is located at the 4 o’clock position on the case flank, the latter, at the 7 o’clock position on the dial.

By offsetting the movement by an angle of 30 degrees, both the crown and the sub-dial are also offset by 30 degrees.

This controlled eccentricity allows the L.U.C XPS Twist to stand out from its fellow dress watches. To further accentuate the play on asymmetry, the surface of the dial is adorned with a circular brushed finish that emanates from the seconds sub-dial, rather than the true center of the dial. Indicating the time are Chopard’s signature dauphine hands. The only complication that the watch has is the date, which is tastefully and discreetly displayed at the 3 o’clock position. Also worth mentioning is that the blueish grey hue of the dial pairs beautifully with the stealthiness of the white gold case. As a finishing touch, the watch is matched with a matte blue-grey alligator leather strap with cognac coloured alligator leather lining.

The way the dial and the metallic elements on it interact with light is nothing short of hypnotising.

The Movement

Driving the L.U.C XPS Twist is the 29-jewel, 172-part Calibre L.U.C 96.26-L. The movement is a variation on the Calibre 96.01-L – the first movement by modern day Chopard and for the L.U.C collection – offset by 30 degrees. Like the original movement, the Calibre L.U.C 96.26-L is a slim 3.3 mm in height, allowing it to be housed in a thin case. The self-winding movement boasts a respectable power reserve of 65 hours – thanks to twin stacked barrels based on the brand’s patented Twin technology – and operates at an ‘in-between’ 3.5 Hz beat rate.

The Calibre L.U.C 96.26-L as seen through the sapphire crystal case back.

Certified by the Fleurier Quality Foundation, the Calibre L.U.C 96.26-L has undergone a battery of stringent tests that would cause most high-end manufacturers to wince. Parts of the certification process involve attaining COSC Chronometer certification, being 100% Swiss manufactured, and having finissage worthy of haute horlogerie. Indeed, the Calibre L.U.C 96.26-L is excellently finished, with even Geneva waves across the bridges, polished screw heads, polished chamfers, and tight perlage visible through the sapphire crystal case back.

The movement showcases an impressive array of finishing techniques including chamfering, polishing, angling, circular and straight graining, and engraving, among other techniques.

The Competitive Landscape

Dress watches are a dime and a dozen, but the L.U.C XPS Twist manages to distinguish itself with its fine craftsmanship and unorthodox design. The watch is also equipped with an incredible movement and adorned with high finishing. At SGD27,400 or CHF19,800, the watch offers great bang for buck.

The L.U.C XPS Twist is the prototypical modern dress watch – elegant with a contemporary twist.

Asymmetrical designs were once a rarity and considered blasphemous. That was until the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 came along. Greeted with bewilderment when the watch debuted in 1994, the Lange 1 has since become an icon, a household name in high horology. The Lange 1 is known for its asymmetrical yet harmonious dial design. Much like the L.U.C XPS Twist, it has a date display. But in addition, there is also a power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock (since the watch is manually wound). Apart from its off-centre dial design, the Lange 1 is also famous for it’s gorgeous movement. It is hard to beat the level of movement finishing afforded to the L.U.C XPS Twist, but the Lange 1 bests it convincingly. This higher level of finissage (and the additional power reserve complication) does come at a price, though. The watch retails for EUR32,300 today which, after all things considered, is a fairly reasonable price for what it offers.

lange1-rgsd-carrier
The A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1. A formerly quirky timepiece turned legend.

An 8 minute walk from the Lange factory in Glashütte takes you to the doorstep of Grossmann Uhren GmbH, home of ultra-high end brand Moritz Grossmann. As it would appear, the Germans have a thing asymmetrical designs. The Moritz Grossmann TEFNUT Twist was first presented in 2017 and somewhat resembles the L.U.C XPS Twist; it, too, has a crown at the 4 o’clock position, and a seconds sub-dial at the 7 o’clock position. The key difference between the two watches (apart from the presence or lack of the date function) is in the method of winding. The L.U.C XPS Twist is self-winding but can also be hand-wound via the crown. The TEFNUT Twist, on the other hand, is wound via the lug at 6 o’clock. This lug, which doubles as a winding stem, winds the watch when the strap is twisted 90 degrees; a backstop ratchet even allows for bidirectional winding. The TEFNUT Twist, much like the watches from neighbour Lange, is finished to exceptional standards – especially the movement. Priced at around EUR30,000, the TEFNUT Twist offers the very best of craftsmanship and a truly novel winding system.

The TEFNUT Twist by Moritz Grossmann.

Final Thoughts

The L.U.C XPS Twist figuratively and literally features a twist. Its asymmetrical design ‘quirk’ makes the watch that much more interesting than a classic dress piece. Chopard – through its flagship L.U.C line and the latest XPS Twist – continues to show the watch industry how it’s done. Multiple certifications of quality, high finishing, and not obscenely priced – there isn’t much more one can ask of the Chopard L.U.C watch.

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