The word Chopard conjures up images of exquisite bejewelled watches and jewellery. Embellished with some the finest gemstones of the world, their collection soon became a rage amongst the brand’s followers. However, not many know that the company also had a watch making tradition that dated right back to the days of the founding father, Louis-Ulysse Chopard. It was this tradition that led co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele to attempt to rediscover this heritage. To be recognised as a Manufacture is a challenging and stringent process. But, it was to be done….and done exceptionally well!
The Chopard Manufacture opened in Fleurier in 1996. It became clear that they weren’t merely interested in making watches, but inventing them. Production was in full swing and the very first movement had to be one that would offer a high level of complexity and challenge; and so a movement equipped with a self-winding micro-rotor was produced. This offered two key advantages: firstly, the possibility of admiring all the intricacies and finishings of the movement and secondly, this type of oscillating weight also made it possible to create an ultra-thin version of the mechanism. This was the genesis of L.U.C 1.96 (named after the company’s founder Louis-Ulysse Chopard).
Chopard took up the stringent challenge of certification standards head-on. Given the rising competition in the world of watches, certifications are not just limited to simply checking the accuracy of time-keeping but also to assessing every feature of the watch, namely the calibre of the watch, the accuracy, power reserve, finishing and the looks of the watch too. Chopard thus adhered to the requirements of COSC certification (applied exclusively to the chronometric precision of a movement) as well as Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark, which guaranteed the excellence of movement finishing. In fact, it was also one of the manufactures behind the creation of the Fleurier Quality Foundation that testifies to the quality
of the movement as well as that of the finished watch. It is not surprising that Chopard has submitted the largest number of timepieces to the scrutiny of the Fleurier Quality Foundation – more than 1,000 watches representing eight different models!
THE BEGINNING OF AN ERA…
In 1996, the L.U.C Calibre 96.01-L, featuring bidirectional automatic winding via a 22-carat micro-rotor, a small seconds display at 6 o’clock and a 65-hour power reserve marked the beginning of the golden era. It also equipped the very first L.U.C model: the L.U.C 1860.
In 2000, Chopard presented the L.U.C 98.01-L “Quattro” calibre in the L.U.C Quattro watch. No less than four energystoring barrels and a total of 1.88 metres of springs endowed this 205-part hand-wound movement with a sensational autonomy of nine days.
In 2003, the Manufacture’s first tourbillon was launched. L.U.C Calibre 02.01-L, with its 29 millimetre diameter, 6 millimetre thickness and 224 components, equipped with a high-performing technical innovation: the variable-inertia “Variner” four-spoke balance wheel with four integrated
inertia blocks, teamed with a balance-spring featuring a Phillips end curve; as well as the four-barrel “Quattro” technology. L.U.C Calibre 96.13-L introduced in 2005 featured a perpetual calendar requiring no manual correction until 2100, as well as an “orbital moon-phase indicator”. In 2006 the manufacture presented an acoustic version of time with the first striking calibre in the L.U.C collection. By means of a sophisticated mechanism, the 300-part L.U.C Calibre 96.14-L of the L.U.C Strike One independently chimes the number of hours on a gong with a
The year 2007 heralded the L.U.C Chrono One watch, selfwinding L.U.C Calibre 03.02-L – equipped with a column wheel and flyback function – called for around 16,000 hours of intense R&D conducted by a 25-strong team. Its key innovations include a resetting lever with supple hammers, automatic winding with a patented gearing device, as well as a sophisticated secondsreset mechanism.
In 2010 the L.U.C Calibre 05.01-L was created to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of Chopard. This movement united within its case all the main technical elements developed by the Manufacture to date along with new horological complications. Subsequently, in 2011, Chopard brilliantly demonstrated the full scope of its mastery in the realm of certified precision by presenting the L.U.C Triple Certification Tourbillon. The L.U.C 01.06-L movement in 2012 demonstrated that a high frequency does not necessarily adversely influence the power reserve of a model. Next in line was the L.U.C Calibre 06.01-L equipping its L.U.C Louis-Ulysse – The Tribute watch.
Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s long-term aim is for the entire L.U.C collection to be made in ethical gold. The dream has taken wings with the the L.U.C Tourbilon QF Fairmined in 2014. For this, gold has been extracted in a responsible manner and the miners receive a fair price for their work along with contribution to training, social well-being and environmental protection. The brand is firmly and surely on the journey to sustainable luxury.