In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the L.U.C collection, Chopard is presenting a top-notch minute repeater. Limited to five pieces, the grand complication is exceptional in many respects and marks a number of firsts in the world of high-end watches.
First of all, the haute-horlogerie timepiece makes its appearance in a case made entirely of sapphire crystal. Not only the body, but also the crown, the case back, the lugs, and the dial of the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire are crafted from this very hard, scratch-resistant and durable material, which, due to its transparency, shows off the beauty of the underlying mechanism from all sides. Moreover, the uniformity of the mineral positively affects the sound quality.
Furthermore, the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire is the first wristwatch in a non-metallic case to be awarded the prestigious Geneva Seal. On top of that, the hand-wound L.U.C 08.01-L caliber, which combines no less than 533 components and offers a power reserve of 60 hours, also bears a COSC-chronometer certificate.
As in the L.U.C Full Strike presented in 2016 and awarded with the Aiguille d’Or of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève one year later, the minute repeater uses solid sapphire gongs and a sapphire crystal as a resonance body. This resonance structure is complemented in the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire by further innovations, of which four are patented. In a minute repeater mechanism, the energy required by the strikework is provided each time the winding lever is activated. Here, the energy comes from a separate, dedicated barrel wound directly by the crown.
It enables the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire to chime the most complex and energy-intensive time of day (or night) – namely 12 hours and 59 minutes – up to 12 times. This exceptional autonomy is due to several factors. It benefits from the contribution of a patented clutch-lever mechanism that ensures that the strikework going train is blocked to avoid losing power reserve during the information capture that controls the minute repeater.
This autonomy is also the result of Chopard Manufacture’s experience in the use of multiple barrels. The founding movement of the L.U.C collection – L.U.C Calibre 96.01-L, launched 25 years ago – already featured the Chopard Twin technology, whose two superimposed barrels deliver long-lasting and reliable force delivery. For it has an autonomous energy source, the strikework systematically respects the defined rhythm, whatever the time that is chimed and however many times it chimes.
Keen to preserve the user-friendliness of the minute repeater and to make its operation as secure as possible, the Chopard Manufacture has developped a number of innovative systems. For example, if the barrel no longer has sufficient force to power the minute repeater, a safety mechanism blocks its release. In addition, Chopard has filed a patent for a new strikework-activation device. As soon as it is activated, the pusher is disengaged, thereby making it impossible to disturb the running of the minute repeater or to damage it.
In order to perfect the sound quality of the sapphire crystal mainspring, Chopard’s Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele worked together with the famous French artist brothers Renaud Capuçon (violinist) and Gautier Capuçon (cellist), as well as Professor Romain Boulandet, head of the Applied Acoustics Laboratory at Geneva’s HEPIA engineering school. Their tests, carried out in an anechoic chamber perfectly isolated from any external noise, proved that the sound of the minute repetition is pure, powerful, harmonious and crystal clear.
Even though the inner workings of the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire are the star of the show, the dial also deserves attention. Likewise crafted from sapphire, it highlights the top-notch finishing quality of the skeletonized movement. The peripheral railway-type minutes track in black is complemented by a chapter ring with rhodium-plated applied hour-markers. At 3 o’clock, Chopard integrated a concentric power-reserve indicator in which two hands indicate the remaining energy of the movement and the strikework respectively.
The 42.5mm diameter case is 11.55mm thick, with well-balanced proportions identical to previous versions of the L.U.C Full Strike. Pricing is marked at CHF 450,000, or about $482,000 when converted to USD.
To learn more, visit Chopard, here.