20th March 2019
L.U.C Perpetual T Spirit of the Dragon and the Pearl
The finest techniques within a showcase entrusted to Chopard’s Mains d’art (Artistic Hands): the L.U.C Perpetual T Spirit of the Dragon and the Pearl is this years’s revelation. Inspired by China’s founding myths, the dragon motif is shown prominently on the hand-engraved case middle. At this level of extravagant and passionate luxury, this ‘piece unique’ creation can only be enjoyed by one true aesthete. “The true cost of luxury is the choice that it affords.”
Origins of China
The dragon is a key creature embedded into the founding myths of ancient China’s founding dynasties with tales of five-clawed dragons serving the emperor in the quest for the Sacred Pearl of Wisdom and Knowledge. This was the inspiration that Chopard has portrayed through its L.U.C Perpetual T Spirit of the Dragon and the Pearl timepiece, like a sacred pearl.
Engraved in-house the 43mm diameter 18-carat rose gold case exhibits fine line engraving technique that highlights two dragons on the case middle and space between the lugs, chasing after the sacred pearl depicted on the crown. This allegory represents two Tian Long dragons, creatures of the sky and symbols of the soul’s elevation to a state of pure consciousness. The contemplative gentleman owner will appreciate this masterpiece produced by 200 hours of meticulous work.
The 353-part mechanical hand-wound L.U.C 02.15-L movement is well tried and tested to provide the tourbillon and perpetual calendar complications with 9 days of power reserve (although only 8 days is indicated on back).
It is listed as ‘Price on Application’ but AlphaLuxe estimate is around $260,000.
L.U.C XP 35 mm Esprit de Fleurier Peony
Each year, Chopard creates a timepiece dedicated to the peony: L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony. For this new eight-piece limited edition, Chopard called upon its Mains d’art (artistic hands).
The peony is a favourite flower of Chopard co-president Caroline Scheufele and also a most popular flower in China. Considered the queen of flowers, symbolising wealth and honour, it was also associated with the imperial family. During the Tang dynasty (618 – 907), peonies flourished in the palace gardens. They tell of a story that the Empress Wu Zetian (624-705) was walking in the Imperial Garden of Chang’an (capital of the Tang Empire), when she saw the garden looking bare and ordered all the flowers to open up to greet her. The next day, the lilies answered the call, as did the honeysuckle and jasmine. All the flowers obeyed the Empress except the peonies, which never bloom on demand. Humiliated, the Empress drove them out of her garden for the offence and exiled them to Luoyang, where it is said that the most beautiful peonies in the world are grown.
The dial features a bouquet of peonies on a purple dial as a camaieu painting of pink to purple hues, contrasting with the tender green leaves. The customary shading is replaced by light to render the depth of the petals. Chopard’s Mains d’art (artistic hands) highlighted details with hand-cut white mother-of-pearl appliques instead. An 18-carat rose gold butterfly is attracted to the heart of a flower.
The L.U.C Calibre 96.23-L movement – designed and produced by Chopard Manufacture – is entirely decorated with floral engraving that is perfectly mastered by Chopard artisans.
Inspired by the engraved movement of an 1870 carriage watch, Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele revived the rare craft of Fleurier style engraving. In the decoration workshops, a woman with truly golden hands offered to teach herself this subtle art, which she now masters perfectly. It is to her that we owe the delicate engraved peonies adorning the movement of this new L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony timepiece.
The diamonds set on the bezel and case middle provide the crowning touch to this miniature work of art and highlight the work of each craftsman. This exceptional watch is issued in an eight-piece limited edition and will be sold exclusively in Chopard boutiques.
It is listed as ‘Price on Application’ but AlphaLuxe estimate is around $100,000.
L.U.C XP $8,810
Last year, the L.U.C XP with brushed silver dial and blue cashmere strap took aficionados by storm to garner much praise. We don’t really know why it did the horological version of “Gone Viral” but Chopard are doing it again.
This year’s novelty is a new L.U.C XP stainless steel timepiece (Ref. 168592-3002), highlighting purity of design that characterises the L.U.C. collection.
The Gents’ L.U.C XP is far more affordable than the ladies’ model above!
Its natural, casual elegance is evoked by the texture of its blue dial, the virgin wool of its strap, the brilliance of its hour-markers, along with its extra-flat shape, likened to the tradition of Savile Row tailors.
Chopard marketers envisage for the contemporary gentleman, L.U.C XP is like a blue cashmere flannel suit, worn with a Sea Island cotton shirt and an Ancient Madder tie: a modern classic for men of taste. In case, you’re wondering “ancient madder’ refers to a type of dyeing technique with a vegetable dye.
L.U.C XP case is 40mm in diameter and only 7.2mm high, that houses an ultra-thin L.U.C Calibre 96.53-L tungsten micro-rotor, automatic-winding movement finished in accordance with the high standards of Chopard Manufacture.
L.U.C Quattro $25,800
Finally, I kept this watch for last because my first Chopard watch was the original L.U.C Quattro, formerly known as the L.U.C 1.98.
Reprising last year’s re-designed L.U.C Quattro, this elegant, ultra-thin watch has a new pared-down dial, in keeping with current fashion. The 2019 L.U.C Quattro novelty is in a 43mm diameter, white gold case with a grey-green vertical satin-brushed dial relieved by rhodium-plated hour-markers and Arabic numerals. L.U.C Quattro is issued in a 50-piece limited series, fitted with a matt brown double-sided alligator leather strap. Yes! A double-sided strap is resistant to perspiration on the underside.
The case middle is satin-brushed, its bezel polished and its back finely hand-engraved. All the meticulous attention required by the ‘Poinçon de Genève’ (Geneva Seal) quality hallmark has been lavished on this model featuring a subdial displaying both small seconds and the date at 6 o’clock, exactly opposite the 12 o’clock power-reserve indicator graduated from 1 to 9 Days.
In case you were wondering how quattro mainspring barrels are linked as a double stack of twin barrels, here is a diagram explaining the patented mechanism that achieves 9 days of power reserve.
Chopard says this 50-piece limited model is intended for gentlemen well-acquainted with watchmaking secrets and capable of recognising the inherent L.U.C fine craftsmanship. I can well believe it because I don’t see many other people with the same watch when I wear my L.U.C Quattro…
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Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web magazine. He was former 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).