Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin
The Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin perpetuates the company’s reputation for making elegant paragons of haute horlogerie. This particular model combines a flying tourbillon, a hand-guilloché dial and an automatic movement equipped with a 22-carat gold micro-rotor. Angus Davies, no stranger to L.U.C ownership himself, explores this sublime timepiece in minute detail.
The tourbillon – a brief introduction
In the late 18th century, the watchmaking genius Abraham-Louis Breguet identified that gravity had an adverse influence on the regulating organ of a pocket watch. His solution to this problem was the tourbillon (patented in 1801). This system places the whole of the escapement within a revolving cage. As the cage rotates 360°, any momentary gains / losses in rate are negated, conferring superior precision.
Today, the tourbillon escapement is fitted to an array of high-end wristwatches where cost is of little consequence and excellence is of paramount importance.
The tourbillon – the buyer’s motives
Watches equipped with a tourbillon escapement are often the preserve of an esoteric world, termed ‘haute horlogerie’. Prospective purchasers with a discerning temperament, appreciate that only a watchmaker possessing time-served skills and incredible patience is capable of bringing such sublime watches to fruition.
The flying tourbillon – an unhindered view
Some tourbillons are blessed with a prepossessing beauty and personally, I have succumbed to their abundant charms. In particular, I have appreciated the flawless finishing found on some upper tourbillon bridges. The finest examples are endowed with tapered, mirror polished surfaces that gleam with an almost blinding brilliance.
However, given a choice I would always favour a model equipped with a flying tourbillon. This type of watch harnesses all of the benefits of Breguet’s invention but eschews an upper tourbillon bridge. Invented by the German watchmaker, Alfred Helwig, the flying tourbillon provides an unhindered view of the cage and escapement rotating. It bestows an intoxicating pleasure few horological voyeurs are able to resist.
The Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin – introduction
L.U.C are the initials of Louis-Ulysse Chopard, the founder of the eponymous luxury marque, founded in 1860. Today, the company is successfully managed by its present owners, the Scheufele family.
A Chopard watch marked with the letters L.U.C is the embodiment of horological excellence. Indeed, those three special letters have become a byword for incredible watches, encompassing technical virtuosity and aesthetic brilliance.
At Baselworld 2019, the Genevan firm unveiled the new Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin. This paragon of fine watchmaking combines a flying tourbillon, hand-guilloché gold dial, slender 40mm case and a myriad of additional qualities which cannot be conveyed in just a few sentences. Indeed, I can already declare, this peerless watch deserves detailed and protracted discussion.
All L.U.C models radiate with luxury, style and propriety. The Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin proves no exception, reassuring the brand’s disciples that all is well with their beloved Maison. The solid gold dial is suffused with a shade of grey ruthenium, achieved using galvanic treatment. This particular dial colour is dark, providing wonderful contrast with the warm tones of the neighbouring 18-carat rose gold case.
In common with several other L.U.C models, this watch features Dauphine fusée-type hour and minute hands. In this instance, the hands are gilded, once again evincing golden hues that raise the ambient temperature just a couple of degrees.
The hours are represented with applied, facetted indexes, save for noon where Arabic numerals are employed. The snailed hour track is encircled by a crisp chemin-de-fer, aiding read-off and delineating the periphery of the dial.
Each aspect of the dial that I have mentioned up to this point is exquisite, however, the two most remarkable features have not yet been discussed.
Firstly, the central area of the dial, described by the brand as the ‘central medallion’, is adorned with an exceptional honeycomb motif. This geometric pattern has been created using a traditional hand-guilloché method. This is not the first time that Chopard has embellished a watch dial with this pattern, the L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer edition of 2017 had a similar motif on its dial. However, go back further into the annals of Chopard and you will discover that the first logo used by Louis-Ulysee Chopard included a depiction of a beehive.
Secondly, a large aperture in the lower portion of the dial reveals the tourbillon carriage in its entirety. Nothing impairs the view of the balance oscillating or spoils the spectacle of the escape wheel and anchor deep in conversation. The edge of the aperture, the tourbillon ring, is gilded with 18-carat rose gold, enriching the spectacle of the whirlwind’s theatrical performance.
The Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin executes its duties with incredible efficiency. Everything is simple to interpret and there is a welcome absence of ambiguity. However, the appeal of this dial is not merely functional, but also extends to its seemly composition and the hypnotic motion of the whirlwind. Quite simply, this dial is magnificent.
Despite its obvious complexity, the Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin measures a restrained 40mm in diameter and, even more remarkably, a mere 7.2mm in height. One of the reasons for this watch’s diminutive torso relates to the fitment of a micro-rotor ( a detail I will return to later).
Chopard has also employed some of the tried and tested L.U.C design codes which have attracted a loyal band of fans, myself included. While highly polished 18-carat rose gold abounds, the caseband features a muted vertical brush, tempering the overtness of the adjacent gleaming surfaces. Every element coalesces wonderfully.
Previously, I described the case as 18-carat rose gold, however, this was somewhat remiss on my part. The case is formed of 18-carat ethically certified ‘Fairmined’ rose gold. To my knowledge, Chopard is the only brand using this type of gold. It has signed agreements with a number of small scale mines for the supply of this noble metal. As part of this arrangement, the luxury brand has agreed to provide training, new processing plant and social and environmental support for the betterment of these communities. By paying a premium over the market price for gold, Chopard ensures miners enjoy better wages and improved working conditions. This approach shows a friendlier side to capitalism and a more sustainable form of luxury.
The rear of the case is fitted with a large pane of sapphire crystal affording views of the self-winding movement.
The Calibre 96.24-L is another in-house creation from the luxury marque. Aficionados of the L.U.C. brand will notice this particular movement bears a close resemblance to the Maison’s inaugural movement, the Calibre 96.01-L (formerly the Calibre 1.96). The Calibre 96.24-L is an evolution of its older sibling and harnesses all of its peerless finishing.
The movement features a one-minute Tourbillon which includes a hand affixed to the carriage, indicating the running seconds on the dial-side of the tourbillon aperture.
A micro-rotor proffers the convenience of a conventional automatic movement while at the same time sitting flush with the adjacent bridges, mitigating the height of the case. There are only a few brands offering movements endowed with a micro-rotor as such miniaturisation presents technical challenges which need to be surmounted. The Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 was the first L.U.C model. This was released in 1997 and equipped with a micro-rotor. Over the years that have followed the Swiss company has produced several movements equipped with a micro-rotor, reaffirming the brand’s expertise in this field.
Chopard’s patented Twin Technology, comprising of two stacked barrels, delivers a prodigious power reserve of 65 hours.
The 22-carat gold micro-rotor is retained with a gleaming screw and features a sumptuous pattern comprised of radiating lines emanating outwards. The bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève motif and golden engraved text. Moreover, the bridges feature polished jewel and screw sinks and sport sublime anglage. The baseplate is decorated with perlage and the wheels are circular grained. Considering the incredible horological rectitude manifest, it is not surprising that this watch bears the ‘Poinçon de Genève’. In addition, the model is also a certified chronometer (COSC). The credentials of the Calibre 96.24-L are beyond reproach.
One of my favourite aspects of this movement relates to the minimal bridges, granting excellent views of the train, escapement and carriage when viewed from the rear of the watch.
Lastly, the movement is equipped with a variable inertia balance with masselottes affixed to the spokes of the balance wheel. A further specification highlight which augments precision.
The specification of this watch proffers much day-to-day practicality. The dial is highly legible, the case dimensions make it suitable for most would-be wearers, the micro-rotor offers convenience and, finally, the movement delivers chronometer certified precision.
Beyond these aforementioned benefits, the Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin is blessed with a gorgeous hand-guilloché dial, becoming tones and an exquisitely finished movement. These details provide an alluring spectacle which is difficult to resist.
However, the pièce de résistance is the flying tourbillon. While upholding the benefits of Breguet’s original invention, I adore the vision of the whirlwind, exposed in all of its naked glory. There are no hidden secrets, its beauty is revealed in full. The animated spectacle of seeing the balance wheel oscillating to and fro, the hairspring breathe with life, the pallet lever and escape wheel in conversation and, finally, the carriage rotating to an andante beat is breathtaking. Quite simply, I am smitten.
- Model: Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin
- Reference: 161978-5001
- Case: 18-carat ethically certified ‘Fairmined’ rose gold; diameter 40mm; height 7.20mm; sapphire crystal to the front and sapphire caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds on tourbillon
- Movement: L.U.C 96.24-L; automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve 65 hours
- Strap: Hand-sewn plant-dyed matt black alligator strap with cognac-coloured alligator leather lining. Presented with a 18-carat rose gold pin buckle
- Price: Price on Application
- Limited Edition: 50 pieces