Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru
The Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is a charming watch, featuring an impressive intellect and a well developed sense of style. Moreover, this watch behaves impeccably in all social settings. Angus Davies appraises this paragon of haute horlogerie and examines its elevated specification in detail.
As a young boy, I was told not to place my elbows on a dining table while eating. Likewise, when approaching a door, I was taught to hold it open for those standing in close proximity. Later, I would learn that when walking along a pavement with a lady, the man should always stand ‘on the outside’, closest to the road. I could provide many other examples of appropriate behaviour when in polite company, however, all of the aforementioned illustrations have one thing in common, they are manifestations of propriety. In polite society these accepted codes are often referred to as ‘etiquette’.
I am reminded of etiquette and decorum when looking at the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru. Its refined composition exhibits seemly behaviour. Its tonneau shape stands away from the ubiquitous round case, exhibiting a distinctive mien, however, it chooses not to boast or shout about its obvious differences. The decorum of this watch precludes showboating or crass self-promotion.
The Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is a watch of impeccable breeding, worthy of detailed appraisal.
The Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is endowed with a white porcelain-type dial. Its profile hugs the interior walls of the case, blending straight and curved lines to glorious affect. The hue of the dial exhibits a notable purity, imbuing the aesthetic with a sense of innocence.
Disciples of Chopard’s L.U.C brand are once again indulged with the firm’s much-loved dauphine-type hour and minute hands. These faceted hands pronounce the time with clear tone and exhibit much style.
Each hour is denoted with black Roman numerals, while the central area of the dial is framed with a chemin de fer. A small seconds display is positioned in the lower portion of the dial, enriched with snailed detail and red accents.
A date aperture straddles the small seconds display and the hour track. There are no additional functions to mar the dial’s simplicity of line. Everything is designed to converse with the wearer in a clear and measured tone.
Measuring 38.5mm x 38.8mm, the length and width are virtually identical and yet I still perceive that the watch has an elongated profile. Certainly this ‘form watch’ radiates a high quotient of elegance. One contributory reason for this horological deportment relates to the model’s slender torso, measuring a mere 7.74mm.
The case band features arcing contours adorned with vertical satin-brush. This acts as a foil for the gleaming bezel and case back, tempering any suggestion of conspicuous behaviour. Chopard could have saved a few Swiss francs by making the flanks of the case straight. Thankfully, the Maison chose not to countenance such penny-pinching and the resultant appearance of the case proves magnificent.
The horns subscribe to the well-proven house style, sharply pointing downwards, enticing the strap to encircle the wrist. The profile of the lugs confers a superb ergonomic relationship with the wrist which has to be experienced in order to fully appreciate. The top and underside of the lugs are highly polished to a gleaming conclusion, while the sides are embellished with vertical satin brush.
An exhibition case back affords views of the Calibre 97.01-L, the self-winding movement within. Consistent with the high-end positioning of the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru, the strap is exquisite, bestowing a sumptuous feel. It is formed of brown, hand-sewn alligator leather and enhanced with a luxurious lining.
Each exterior part of this watch reinforces the perception of mechanical propriety.
It is horological etiquette for a movement to emulate the shape of the case. Often lesser brands place a round movement in a tonneau case and hide it with a solid case back. Thankfully, Chopard does not subscribe to this practise and demonstrates notable rectitude at all times.
Unusually for a tonneau-shaped watch, the Calibre 97.01-L is self-winding. Chopard has equipped the movement with a 22-carat micro-rotor, embellished with radiating lines. The micro-rotor sits flush with the neighbouring bridges, preserving the movement’s slim waist.
Unlike a full-sized oscillating weight, the 22-carat micro-rotor does not restrict inquisitive eyes from viewing the finished movement. In fact, horophiles are indulged with a mechanical vista rich in exalted craftsmanship. The bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève motif and golden engraved text. Jewel and screw sinks are beautifully polished and the bridges feature glinting bevels. Upholding fine watchmaking practise, the mainplate is decorated with perlage, presented in two sizes.
Furthermore, the balance is fitted with a swan-neck regulator, providing a competent watchmaker with a simple means of adjusting the rate. The mobile stud holder and swan-neck have been mirror polished, a painstaking technique that requires both time and skill. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and is fitted with a Philips terminal curve. This latter detail, the preserve of the finest watches, ensures the hairspring breathes concentrically, aiding precision.
Chopard’s ‘Twin® technology’ refers to the twin stacked barrels employed within the movement. Despite the movement measuring just 3.3mm in height, these twin barrels are capable of powering the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru for an impressive 65 hours. Furthermore, by using two barrels instead of one, the escapement will receive a more consistent supply of torque, aiding precision.
Indeed, precision is a key attribute of this watch. The Calibre 97.01-L is certified by COSC as a ‘Chronometer’, a term which is proclaimed on the model’s dial.
Appraising the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru with a loupe, its refined execution is clear to see. The watch has fulfilled the requirements of the Poinçon de Genève, an onerous standard which specifies the types of finishing to be used and the specification of parts such as the mobile stud holder and even the jewels. Furthermore, the watch must pass an array of quality tests in order to bear the mark of the Geneva Seal. The certification criteria is lengthy, precluding a quick summary in a few mere sentences. Needless to say, only the finest watches are capable of meeting the requirements of this accreditation body.
The Genevan Maison selected the term ‘Grand Cru’ when naming this watch and it seems a most apt. The term, normally used for fine wine, refers to the most superior grade or highest rank within its appellation. As I hope I have been able to convey, the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru represents the pinnacle of watchmaking, making it worthy of the description ‘haute horlogerie’.
Each element of this watch has been refined to the nth degree. There are no impurities to sully its flavour, everything is refined and pure.
Indeed, it is difficult to resist the intoxicating charms of the Calibre 97.01-L. It is beautifully finished, features a micro-rotor, making it ideal for daily wear, and encompasses technical refinements such as a swan-neck regulator, Philips terminal curve and Twin® technology. Moreover, the excellence of this watch has been independently validated by COSC and the Poinçon de Genève Office.
Personally, despite this watch’s aforementioned attributes, it is the way it conducts itself upon the wrist which engenders affection. This watch imparts the time with a gentle voice, sits quietly beneath the cuff of a classically styled shirt and hides its beautiful movement except when the wearer removes the timepiece from their wrist. Quite simply, the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is like a chivalrous gentleman who always knows how to behave in any situation.
- Model: Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru
- Reference: 162296-5001
- Case: 18-carat rose gold; dimensions 38.5mm x 38.8mm; height 7.74mm; water resistance 3ATM (30 metres) sapphire crystal to front and exhibition case back
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date
- Movement: Calibre 97.01-L; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 29 jewels; power reserve 65 hours.
- Strap: Brown, hand-sewn alligator leather with matching stitching and lined in a contrasting shade of brown alligator leather. The strap is paired with an 18-carat rose gold pin buckle.
- Price: *** – see Aurélie