Hot from Baselworld 2017 comes the uber exclusive and extra-flat L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony timepiece. Ostensibly for ladies, I can see quite a few men also drawn by the allure of this Work of Art.
Since 2014, Chopard has presented a L.U.C XP watch each year, more recently they have been encased in artisanal excellence and craftsmanship: Fleurisanne Engraving. Actually, it is “craftswomanship” because the best current experts are ladies.
This watch is a flagship ladies’ model in the L.U.C collection by Chopard. It is exclusive in extremis because only 8 pieces a year in a limited edition is the entire production from its Fleurier-based Manufacture. The 35 mm diameter case allows a bouquet of delicate variations.
For 2017, Fleurisanne engraving appears on the dial and movement of the new L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony. The Peony is again the floral theme but glowing in two-tones of colour.
The L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony follows up on its older siblings: the L.U.C XPS 35mm Esprit de Fleurier and the L.U.C XP 35mm Esprit de Fleurier Peony launched in 2015 and 2016. It uses the design motifs and draws from their light and flowing lines.
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Flowers in Fleurier and China
Nestled in the Val-de-Travers, at the confluence of three rivers is the quiet village of Fleurier. Each Spring, those river banks are awash with the colours of wild flowers, that inspired the town’s name. It is also the birthplace of fine watchmaking craftsmanship with global clients as far away as 19th century China.
Apart from the technical complexity, reliability and precision of the movements, the Chinese Imperial Court was also impressed by the relief engraving of scrolling patterns and flowers, particularly the Peony, that has Chinese cultural significance.
Today, that favoured peony adorns both the face and heart of the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony.
Patience and Perfection
The artisan who crafts the eight L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony watches has no formal training because there is no School of Engraving. Yet, she has mastered the art of Fleurisanne engraving. Although no “learning” can succeed in “teaching” mastery of this delicate technique, Chopard has battled the threat of extinction of traditional engraving by providing in-house, hands-on training to perpetuate it.
Each L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony watch requires more than 6 weeks of work to engrave the dial and movement.
L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony dial is made of white gold with two levels of engraving. The double white gold dial is sculpted using a raised rather than a dug out technique (relief engraving), to create a striking contrast with the background. By removing the material surrounding the pattern, the artisan leaves a prominent surface that can then be engraved.
A finely grainy background is created by stippling dot-by-dot to provide a perfect frame for the polished peonies to stand out prominently on the upper dial. Their pistils are set with diamonds to further accentuate the desirability of the flower.
The dial reveals fascinating glimpses of the movement beneath that is also engraved with the Fleurisanne technique, and then gilded. This gilding process is performed after engraving and also requires a great deal of care and patience.
On the dial, just as on the bridges and even the platinum micro-rotor, the 3-D effect of the engraving is truly stunning. The artisanal exuberance extends onto the bezel and case sides that are entirely set with diamonds. “Game Set and Match!”
Movement Maketh the Watch
The movement of the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony has the patented Twin® technology, where two stacked coaxial barrels provide a long 65-hour power reserve. Fitting such a sophisticated self-winding movement within an extra-flat 7.70 mm case is only possible by an ingenious platinum micro-rotor that hides within the movement and does not add to the movement thickness.
It is all carried on an Anthracite brushed canvas strap with 18-carat rose gold pin buckle set with diamonds. Even here, Chopard does not spare the attention to detail.
What Price Luxury?
Ref. 131944-5002 is an 8-piece limited edition watch for Boutique Exclusivity.
You can buy into a slice of this luxury for only CHF 130,000 or USD 130,000
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on 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 travelog ‘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).