While it is commonly accepted that watches are mainly round – a shape guided by the manner in which time is indicated by hands – exceptions exist. Formed watches are not unreasonably usual and if some attempted, only a couple endured. Dominating shapes is something complex, which requires a touch of talent. This year, Chopard is enlarging its L.U.C Collection (the very good quality scope of the brand) with a montre de forme or structure watch, in light of the barrel idea… And for sure, behind this new Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru, there’s a certain wine motivation – and overall a attractive watch.
There are a couple of things to think about Chopard. The brand was founded in 1860, in Sonvilier, by Louis-Ulysse Chopard and was originally known for making ladies’ watches and pocket watches. In 1963, the brand became the property of the Scheufele family (at that time oversaw by Karl Scheufele, a watchmaker from Pforzheim, Germany). This family have claimed the company up to the current day, currently addressed being Karl-Friedrich Scheufele and his sister, Caroline Scheufele (both being Co-Presidents).
Looking at Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, we can say he is a man of good tastes. You won’t be surprised to realize that he is an ardent watch collector and enthusiastic about antique clocks. This energy led to the creation in 1996 of the L.U.C sub-brand (L.U.C representing Louis-Ulysse Chopard), as a dream of what very good quality watches by Chopard should be. This development also led to the creation of the Fleurier-based Chopard Manufacture, to create (some highly complex) in-house developments. This energy for historical pieces recently guided K.F. Scheufele to the revival of perhaps the best name of watchmaking, Ferdinand Berthoud (based on certain pieces of his patiently built-up personal collection of mechanical clocks and watches).
Watches are not by any means the only enthusiasm of Mister Scheufele. In fact, he also has a strong passion for classic and vintage cars, which explains why he has participated in the Mille Miglia rally since 1988 and, all the more recently in the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique (both supported by Chopard). Furthermore, of course, this also explains the Mille Miglia collection by Chopard.
Last but not least, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is also a serious wine connoisseur, a enthusiasm from which arose another business thought: “Le Caveau de Bacchus”. Under this name are three wine shops opened in Geneva, Lausanne and Gstaad. Along with his better half Christine, he also acquired the Chateau Monestier La Tour in January 2012, a wine domain in the locale of Bergerac, France. What’s more, this latter energy is presently the raison d’être for the watch you’re looking at today, the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru.
The Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru
The link with wine is actually not so difficult to see, especially since this watch has a tonneau-formed case – and tonneau in French methods barrel. Nice story, yet we presently need to look at this Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru for what it is. This isn’t the first occasion when we have a barrel-formed watch in the L.U.C collection, which already includes the XP Tonneau . Notwithstanding, if the new Grand Cru watch imparts some plan elements to the latter, including its case, there are multiple evolutions to note, but more on that later.
The Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru comes with a barrel-molded case made in 18k pink gold, which measures 38.5mm in width and 38.8mm in tallness (excluding the lugs). While a large number of the barrel-molded watches have an elongated plan, this Chopard is almost squared in extents, which gives the overall watch a certain appeal and balance – and possibly a smidgen more presence on the wrist as well, and some masculine appeal. The case is polished on flat surfaces, while the slight and rounded case-groups (the watch is quite slender at 7.74mm in thickness) are vertically brushed. Uncommon fact, the caseback and the crystal are slightly curved, to perfectly position on the wrist.
Another novelty concerns the dial, which is presently made with reflexive white lacquer looking like in the event that it was porcelain, giving the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru such an antique, pocketwatch-like appeal. On this milky-white base, the large and bombé Roman numerals are moved in black, with a couple of red accents, for the quarters on the small second sub-dial. The hands use the traditional fusée (rocket in French) state of the L.U.C collection. This shape is fairly challenging from the start but in fact blends perfectly in the overall plan, by bringing a touch of eccentricity. Finally, a date is situated at 6, and, for once, doesn’t disturb an excess of the balance of the dial. This dial, while classical from the start, is more lively and detailed than it appears.
The piece de résistance of this watch is situated on the back side. Here we find back here the well-known in-house, ultra-meager automatic development with micro-rotor – which also equips the recently revealed XPS watches . However, there’s something special and clearly, highly desirable: it is formed accordingly to the case and doesn’t stick to its usual round plan. Molded developments are uncommon and it is a real visual pleasure to see a tonneau-formed rendition of the L.U.C 97 calibre.
Apart from its specific shape, the development is similar to the forms we’ve found previously. It holds the double barrel architecture, with 65 hours of force save (respectable for such a meager development – 3.30mm), the cutting edge 4Hz frequency and the twisting worked by an engraved 22k gold micro-rotor. As far as decoration, the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is clearly on the top of the line side… Just as a Grand Cru wine is classified, this new Chopard has a certified family, as the development bears the “Poinçon de Genève” and its accuracy has been controlled by the COSC (helped by the presence of a swan-neck regulator). The decoration reveals nicely executed bevelling, polishing, circular graining and Côtes de Genève.
The Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is overall a watch that combines elegance with discreet eccentricity, and an incredible family, regarding watchmaking savoir-faire. Of course, the tonneau-formed case and the highly classical dial are two factors that won’t please everybody, yet it must be taken a stab at the wrist… Price: CHF 22,300/EUR 21,970. More details on chopard.com .
Technical Specifications – Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru
- Case: 38.5mm x 38.8mm x 7.74mm – 18k pink gold tonneau-formed case, polished and brushed – sapphire crystal on the two faces – 30m water resistant
- Movement: Caliber L.U.C 97.01-L, in-house, Poinçon de Genève, COSC-certification – automatic winding by means of micro-rotor – 4Hz frequency – 65h force hold – hours, minutes, small second, date
- Dial: White porcelain-type lacquered dial with black and red transfers
- Reference: 162296-5001
- Price: CHF 22,300/EUR 21,970