Temptation Thursday by Escapement: Hands-On with the Chopard L.U.C. Regulator

In this week’s Temptation Thursday, Angus Davies of online watch magazine Escapement gets up close and personal with the Chopard L.U.C. Regulator, a timepiece launched by the brand at this year’s Baselworld watch fair.

Conforming to standards

Throughout my early adult life, I sought to conform and be a “regular guy.” On reaching 40, I became resigned to the fact that, despite the influence of societal norms, I would always be a tad eccentric, exhibiting a notably extrovert character.

Today, aged 47, I celebrate my uniqueness. My personality frequently walks on virgin snow and my mind works at a different cadence from that of the “average person.” As my brain whirrs away at a dizzying rate, I experience racing thoughts. However, I no longer consider my obsessive traits as a weakness. Indeed, obsessive-compulsive disorder is no longer a stigma I try to hide; it is, in fact, a useful tool in carrying out my role as a watch journalist.

I admire those who seek perfection with a near-religious zeal. Those professionals who expend a disproportionate amount of time obsessing over the minutest of details, some of which are barely noticeable to a “regular guy,” are my heroes. It is this attention to minutiae that I recognize in some of the finest examples of watchmaking, a quality that augments my affection for haute horlogerie still further.

One watch brand that always entices me to its door, courtesy of refined aesthetics and mechanical magnificence, is Chopard.

Chopard offers a variety of timepieces that appeal to me on various levels. Recently, I have had the pleasure of “hands-on” encounters with the Mille Miglia 2014 Race Edition, the G.P.M.H Chronograph, the Superfast, and, most recently, a Mille Miglia GTS Chrono in 18k rose gold.

Chopard Mille Miglia Chronograph - rose gold

These models proffer a plethora of attributes and yet, compared with many watches I come across, they remain remarkably affordable. There is no doubt about it: I am a self-confessed fan of Chopard L.U.C, the ultimate expression of Chopard’s watchmaking talent. It is these timepieces that make my palms become sweaty and my pupils dilate.

Remember, as I pointed out in my column last week, I am an addict, and few brands can usurp a Chopard L.U.C when it comes to tempting me to open my wallet and embrace the notion of acquisition.

The seduction process continued at Baselworld 2015…

At Baselworld 2015, the brand successfully ensnared my heart yet again, not merely with one L.U.C model, but three, all prompting words of undying love to leave my lips.

The Chopard L.U.C Quattro has been a staple of the brand’s collection for some time, but this year was released with a stunning blue dial, paired with a platinum case. This model, reference 161926-9001, is already destined for a life residing at Angus Towers, such is its profound beauty. I merely have to employ sufficient cunning to facilitate acquisition.

The Chopard L.U.C 1963 Tourbillon, which I came across at this year’s Baselworld, was yet another model that engendered horological lust on my part, coquettishly nuzzling my wrist with affectionate aplomb. I must stress now — take care near Chopard L.U.C timepieces, for they can seduce the unsuspecting bystander quicker than you can say, “Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson.” The Dauphine fusée hour and minute hands subscribe to the design language employed on many, but not all, L.U.C models. Positioned in the southerly portion of the white grand feu enamel dial is a freely disclosed tourbillon carriage, visible via an exquisitely polished tourbillon bridge. I will return to this beautiful timepiece later in the year after I have experienced a longer courtship.

Last year, Chopard presented two L.U.C 1963 models, both sporting very elegant dials equipped with crisp, black Roman numerals.

The L.U.C 1963 featured an hour and minutes display, together with small seconds, unusually positioned adjacent to 9 o’clock. The beautiful timepiece was offered in a limited series of 50 pieces in platinum and 50 pieces in 18k rose gold, produced to celebrate Chopard’s 50 years of ownership by the Scheufele family.

Chopard LUC 1963

The second model, the L.U.C 1963 Chronograph, was one of my favorite watches of 2014. The various indications presented on the dial clearly communicate with the wearer. Two chronograph registers, positioned at 3 and 9 o’clock, share the same dimensions and virtually identical styling, bestowing a welcome degree of symmetry and cohesion to proceedings. Moreover, pressing the capstan-like push-pieces rewards the wearer with one of the smoothest actions I have ever experienced. Lastly, gazing through the exhibition caseback and quaffing the copious quantities of peerless finissage is an enjoyable experience for any discerning purist.

However, I must stop for a moment, because as I type this article, I have caught myself becoming lost in a moment of horological drooling and failing to focus on the task in hand, namely discussing the latest watch that has tempted me to part with my dwindling purse.

The Chopard L.U.C Regulator – dial design

The Chopard L.U.C Regulator can trace its origins to the the late 19th century, when high-precision regulator clocks were used as a reference for the adjustment of other clocks and watches. In order to aid interpretation, the hours, minutes and seconds were presented in isolation on different parts of the dial. Typically, regulator watches often feature a sole minute hand on the dial, a characteristic seen on this latest model from Chopard.

One Dauphine fusée hand imparts the minutes traversing the sunburst, satin-brushed, and silver toned dial. In common with several other L.U.C models, including the pulchritudinous LUC Tourbillon QF Fairmined, the fine lines of the sunbust motif don’t emanate, as you may expect, from the center of the dial, but radiate from the brand’s nomenclature. This may in itself sound inconsequential, but it grants a charming deviation from the usual, well-trodden path taken by other watch companies.

At 3 o’clock, the hours are imparted with one gilt hand interfacing with black, highly legible Arabic numerals. The smooth central area of the subdial is marked with the letters “HRS” and is framed with a snailed circlet marked with said numerals.

Chopard L.U.C. Regulator - front

Positioned between 4 and 5 o’clock is a date display, presenting the applicable numerals via a rectangular aperture, displayed in a portrait format.

A small seconds display is positioned adjacent 6 o’ clock and, at 9 o’clock, a further subdial indicates the prevailing hour at home. Both these subdials employ black, triangular hands which float above snailed detail, providing a point of differentiation from the hour display at 3 o’clock.

At noon, a power reserve indicator resides, showing the status of the four barrels housed within the movement that collaborate to provide an impressive 216-hour power reserve.

Despite the L.U.C Regulator displaying much information, everything appears optimally placed, judiciously scaled and eminently clear. At no stage does one element unduly vie for attention. All aspects of the dial harmoniously combine, communicating with the wearer in a succinct, symmetrical and stylish manner.

Chopard L.U.C. Regulator - side

The Chopard L.U.C Regulator – the case

In common with several other Chopard L.U.C models, the Regulator has a case diameter of 43 mm. Guy Bove, Product Development Director at Chopard, along with his talented team, have expended much time refining the ergonomics of each watch to ensure heightened wearer comfort, and this evidently shows. I have worn many watches over the years, but the case on this model, and that of its similarly sized siblings, confers an exceptionally agreeable wrist-feel.

This peerless wearer comfort is no accident. I have met Guy on numerous occasions and have come to recognize that he is unwilling to accept anything less than perfection. I employ the word “perfection” with due diligence, because it is a term that is too freely bandied about without due cause, but in this regard it is justified.

Take, for example, the highly polished bezel that encircles the dial — it is convex in profile at its uppermost point. This in itself may not sound unique, but near where it meets the caseband, it adopts a concave path. The resultant outcome is a delightful discourse with ambient light.

Chopard L.U.C. Regulator - wrist

Moving to the caseband, the vertical flanks are satin-brushed, deferentially augmenting the appeal of the adjacent highly polished surfaces. Every element of the L.U.C Regulator’s composition is the consequence of protracted consideration.

With much mechanical beauty housed within the case, the exhibition caseback seems very logical. The wearer is rewarded with a horological vista par excellence, where exalted finishing is very much in evidence.

Chopard L.U.C. Regulator - buckle

The Chopard L.U.C Regulator – the movement

The hand-wound manufacture movement, the L.U.C 98.02-L, is a sublime exemplar of high-end watchmaking and stands in comparison with the finest names within the rarefied world of haute horlogerie. Indeed, I genuinely feel that Chopard L.U.C does not attract the attention it duly deserves, and feel sad that the matchless timepieces bearing the initials of Louis-Ulysse Chopard are not more widely known.

The bridges are adorned with a côtes de Genève motif. However, this surface decoration should not be confused with the cursorily executed stripes found on some lesser watches. The Geneva stripes, in this instance, are produced to the highest order. Each stripe is clearly defined, remarkably smooth and devoid of any machining marks, distinguishing this watch as particularly special.

Chopard L.U.C. Regulator - back

Brilliantly gleaming anglage is further proof of the distilled movement creation. Jewel sinks are polished. The exposed wheels of the gear train are circular grained. Perfectly formed perlage graces the mainplate. The screws are highly polished with precise slots. The balance spring is secured by a sliding stud cap with a round head and neck. This splendid specification is evident to see and will appeal to any self-respecting purist.

The no-compromise creation of the movement is remarkable and, as a result of its flawless creation, the watch bears the Poinçon de Genève. This prestigious quality hallmark is also accompanied with COSC certification, conferring the L.U.C Regulator with official “chronometer” status.

Finally, the movement, as stated earlier, incorporates Quattro® technology, featuring four barrels arranged in two stacked sets. This specification detail helps deliver the amazing 216-hour power reserve, despite the uncased movement measuring only 4.9 mm in height.

Chopard L.U.C. Regulator - wrist

The Chopard L.U.C Regulator – closing remarks

This is a rare watch. I have repeatedly tried to expose a fault or an area that could be enhanced and have failed. Watches are seldom perfect. However, with the Chopard L.U.C Regulator, I am struggling to find any imperfection to mar the ownership experience.

On reflection, perhaps the name of the Chopard L.U.C Regulator is somewhat confusing because despite being a regulator, the watch could never be accused of being “regular.” Its comprehensive prowess distinguishes it as quite unique.

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  1. Love this watch, I just wish the bridges were smaller so more of the movement was exposed.

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