Chopard revised it’s tonneau (barrel-shaped) chronometer watch with pronounced curves, and made in the same way as an exceptional wine but utilising the finest watchmaking skills.
L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru
Usually, watch movements are round in shape even when used inside “shaped” cases be they square, rectangular, oval or tonneau. However, that would not be the Chopard way at the high end of the market. The movement is also shaped to fit perfectly like a bespoke suit; the inner lining is as well appointed as the silk cloth on the outside.
Equipped with the only tonneau shaped, micro-rotor winding, automatic movement, the ultra-flat, curvaceous and exceedingly elegant L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is a vision to behold.
As a nod to the pocket watches created by founder, Louis-Ulysse Chopard, the watch design captivates the eye, mind and heart of the observer.
Just as a Grand Cru wine is classified and certified, the watch’s excellent provenance is attested by the “Poinçon de Genève” quality hallmark (Geneva Seal). Unique in many respects, the L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is intended for distinguished men who collect both great wines and exceptional pieces: the ultimate modern Epicurean.
The first L.U.C Tonneau watch was introduced in 2001 and the new L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is true to its predecessor as the only tonneau shape watch with a shaped automatic movement and micro-rotor.
There was even a Chopard tonneau watch for H.R.H. The Prince of Wales’s charity.
Chopard presents a fresh interpretation in that signature Heritage line. The L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru pays tribute to the historical pocket watches of the Maison founded by Louis-Ulysse Chopard in 1860. It is suffused with authentic emotionally charged design motifs.
Hence, the pure white porcelain-style dial with black Roman numerals. The minute track follows the central part of the dial and a small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock creates an equilibrium. With the Poinçon de Genève (Geneva Seal) certification, this chronometer exhibits respect for the fine craftsmanship and the traditional watchmaking practised at the Geneva-based Manufacture.
With this heritage, Chopard used the highly distinctive shape of oak barrels from the forests of Bertrange, Jupille and Tronçais, which transform great vintages into exceptional wines. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is an avid connoisseur and collector of wine to the extent that he and his wife, Christine, bought a few vineyards.
One such is Chateau Monestier la Tour that is gradually being transformed into a ‘Biodynamique’ or Eco-friendly vineyard.
There is an adage amongst watch collectors that “You do not buy the Watch but the Man selling it.”
To this end, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is seen to pay as much care and attention to his watches as the wine he makes. Unlike most millionnaire vineyard owners, he tried his hand at harvesting the grapes and is the first to admit that it is very hard work; he had the blisters to prove it!
The Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru comes with a barrel-shaped case made in 18k pink gold, which measures 38.5mm in width and 38.8mm in height (excluding the lugs). The tonneau is a traditional shape of watch case that requires particular mastery. Part rectangle and part circle; the L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is less formal than the former but every bit as gentle as the latter.
While most tonneau-shaped watches have an elongated design, this Chopard is almost squared in proportions. The maximum width of the case is almost equal to its length, thus ensuring an ample dial. Although striving for masculine sensuality, the meticulous care lavished on the design ensures that the L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is attractive to ladies as well. The case is polished on flat surfaces, while the thin and rounded case-bands (the watch is quite thin at 7.74mm in thickness) are vertically brushed.
The caseback and crystal of the L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru are curved, although the case is ultra-thin with a maximum thickness close to that of the L.U.C XPS extra-flat models. The curves provide comfort on-the-wrist.
L.U.C 97.01-L calibre: a worldwide exclusivity
The slenderness of the watch begins inside the tonneau case, which houses the 3.3 mm thick calibre 97.01-L. It is one of the rare “form” movements to be housed in a “form” case. It is adorned with the most advanced finishing performed in the Manufacture: the bevelling, polishing, circular graining and Côtes de Genève (Geneva Stripes) meet the high demands of the Poinçon de Genève criteria.
Automatic winding is accomplished by an engraved 22-carat gold micro-rotor, driving two stacked barrels based on Chopard’s patented Twin® technology. Together, they guarantee 65 hours of running time and supply sufficiently constant energy to enable calibre 97.01-L to achieve chronometer-worthy precision.
In accordance with the rule instituted by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, all the 97.01-L calibres equipping the L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru have been certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).
L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru ref.162296-5001
Price: CHF 22,300 / EUR 21,970 / USD 25,090
This is the rejuvenation of the classic L.U.C tonneau watch. After laying in the shadow of its more salubrious brethren, maybe it is now the Time of the Tonneau?
The question to ask yourself, my good gentlemen:
Are you a distinguished man who collects both great wines and exceptional timepieces?
“Do you know someone who falls into this category?”
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He was also CEO of 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 travelogue ‘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).