In the last week before the watch and jewellery fest that is Baselworld on 21 – 26 March 2019, we’ve already had a sneak peek of Chopard’s L.U.C XPS Twist QF extra-flat chronometer.
Today, we take a gander at both ends of the spectrum of luxury from Chopard with a couple of gents’ novelties. Don’t you feel a frisson of frivalous excitement at the term ‘novelties’? The Swiss French just know how to titillate by calling their new products: “novelties”.
L.U.C Flying T Twin $118,500
At the top end is the proud assertion: “The First Chopard Flying Tourbillon”.
Immediately, we’re already gazing into the future as that tag-line implies that there are others in future?
It is the fascinating ‘L.U.C Flying T Twin’ timepiece. Merely reading “Fying T Twin” sets off romantic images from the golden age of aviation, automotive and horological engineering. An age when speed records were broken and gentlemen adventurers trekked the globe. The L.U.C naming system is quite straightforward today and just does what it says on the label. Back in their early years, they underestimated their own prolific productivity and soon the numerical naming system ran out of discriminatory power viz. L.U.C 1.96, L.U.C 1.98, L.U.C 3.97 models etc.
Now, it’s more straightforward. L.U.C stands for Louis Ulysse Chopard, the founder of the company, that is reserved for their highest grade collection. ‘Flying T’ stands for the first flying tourbillon movement by Chopard. ‘Twin’ refers to the patented twin-barrel mainsprings that allow a long power reserve of 65 hours.
The World of L.U.C
It is easy to see why one is drawn into the L.U.C world of engineering endeavour as it fits with the character of the Scheufele family and particularly, co-President Mr Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, that they make progress in measured increments.
First, there was a micro-rotor automatic movement for thin, elegant dress watches in 1996. An 8-day running manual wind movement followed for power hungry complications like perpetual calendars. Then, a robust central rotor automatic engine gave extra torque and reliability needed for sporty watches like chronographs and world timers. Somewhere in that chronology, they even slipped in a tourbillon, Equation of Time complication, pocket watch movement, flyback chronograph and finally, a minute repeater. Not just any minute repeater but the best in the world, that won the top prize at Grand Prix d’Horlogerie Geneva 2017.
Chopard revealed its first movement (calibre) equipped with a flying tourbillon. In watchmaking, the French term ‘tourbillon’ (whirlwind) is a mechanism invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801 to compensate for the effects of gravity on the balance wheel of a watch escapement. Originally, pocket watches were held in a vertical position in waistcoat pockets and much affected by gravity on their big balance wheels. By mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage, the effect of gravity is “averaged out” over the whole mechanism. Although that effect is maximal in the vertical position and modern wristwatches not so affected, the cachet and prestige of a tourbillon is still desirable.
The usual tourbillon cage is supported by a bridge (or cock) at both the top and bottom but a flying tourbillon is cantilevered as it is supported only on one side (usually the bottom) to allow a full view of the cage. The first flying tourbillon was designed by Alfred Helwig (instructor at the German School of Watchmaking) in 1920.
Chopard proves their microengineering prowess with this flying tourbillon development. It’s like turning up in a boxing ring with one arm tied behind your back! Apart from the kudos because they can, the advantage of a flying tourbillon is the full vista afforded without an obscuring bridge, no matter how beautifully decorated that such bridges are.
Beauty to Behold
Leaving the technique aside, let’s admire the aesthetics. We are amazed by the correct proportions and an ultra-thin case crafted from ethically certified “Fairmined” rose gold. When you consider the extra flat case, you realise that complicated does not have to mean chunky. The case at 7.2mm height is as thin as the L.U.C XPS extra-flat watches despite the addition of a tourbillon complication.
We can admire the hand engraved gold dial that has been galvanised. The dial features the bee hive motif that is a signature of Chopard as the founder descended from bee-keepers. Aside from the nostalgia of the brand’s history, the hexagonal motif is most elegant and attractive.
This extremely refined 50-piece limited series designed for contemporary gentlemen connoisseurs of Fine Watchmaking is certified by the “Poinçon de Genève” quality hallmark.
L.U.C Flying T Twin
50-piece limited edition in ethically certified “Fairmined” rose gold
18-carat rose gold
Total diameter 40 mm
Thickness 7.20 mm
Water resistance 30 metres
18-carat rose gold crown with L.U.C logo 5.00 mm
Vertical satin-brushed case middle and
Polished bezel and back
Glareproofed sapphire crystal
Exhibition back fitted with a transparent sapphire crystal pane.
Mechanical self-winding L.U.C 96.24-L
Number of components 190
Total diameter 27.40 mm
Thickness 3.30 mm
Number of jewels 25
Frequency 25,200 vph (3.5 Hz)
Power reserve 65 hours
Flying tourbillon performing one rotation per minute
Two barrels – Twin® technology
Winding via an engraved 22-carat gold micro-rotor
Bridges adorned with Côtes de Genève pattern
Balance-spring with flat terminal curve
‘Poinçon de Genève’ quality hallmark
Chopard Mille Miglia 2019 Race Edition $7,390
A hint of Dolce Vita for the contemporary gentleman
For more than 30 years, Chopard has partnered with the Mille Miglia race, “la corsa più bella del mondo” (the most beautiful race in the world), which is raced over a 1,000 miles (1,600 km) route from Brescia to Rome and back.
This unique alliance in the world of classic motorsport, which reflects Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s passion for classic cars, is proven again with the Mille Miglia 2019 Race Edition. Each year, we play the guessing game about the look of the next race edition watch. This annual commomorative watch became available to Chopard aficionados since 1997, when they started using mechanical self-winding movements for all Mille Miglia models and also marketed limited edition annual models. Prior to that, only competitors and guests had access to Mille Miglia Race watches between 1988 – 1996.
This year’s edition is a distinctive, sturdy and accurate chronograph befitting contemporary gentlemen and imbued with the inimitable vintage spirit for stylish and speed-loving drivers.
The 44mm diameter stainless steel case is water resistant to 100m rating and houses the 28,800 vph, mechanical, self-winding, chronograph movement with 12H elapsed time counters. Through the glareproofed sapphire crystal with magnified date window, within the polished stainless steel bezel with black aluminium tachymeter scale inlay, we can see the dial. The case back is stamped with the Mille Miglia logo and a blackened PVD-treated checquered flag motif tells you there are 1000 pieces in the steel edition.
Dial and hands:
The snailed pattern, grey dial with ruthenium-coloured dial was galvanised and a varnished black and grey inner bezel ring with a white transfer for markers.
Hours and minutes counters at 6 and 12 o’clock respectively are also snailed and black galvanised. The Mille Miglia arrow-shaped appliques are painted with Super-LumiNova® for luminescence. Legibility is provided by the facetted rhodium-plated hours and minutes hands for time keeping and the chronograph hands rhodium-plated with red tips.
Strap and buckle:
Cognac-coloured calf leather strap with tone-on-tone stitching is decorated with perforations inspired by driving gloves. The black rubber lining was inspired by 1960s Dunlop racing tyres to provide comfortable fit and “moisture resistance”; it’s hot work driving hard. The deployant stainless steel folding clasp is polished.
Ref. 168571-3004 – in stainless steel with a cognac-coloured calf leather and black rubber strap – 1,000-piece limited edition
Hint: If you want a little more luxury and exclusivity, there usually is a smaller number of limited edition 18K rose gold Mille Miglia 2019 Race watches.
No doubt, Chopard is saving some big blockbuster novelties for the Baselworld 2019 show but the three watch novelties already revealed can easily form the basis of a respectable personal collection for any discerning and stylish gentleman:
- The L.U.C XPS Twist QF as a dress watch for formal functions.
- The L.U.C T Twin for complicated elegance and Wow factor!
- The Chopard Mille Miglia 2019 Race Edition as a sportive timepiece when letting your hair down.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web magazine. He was former CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).