Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin ref. 168561-3003
The Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin ref. 168561-3003 is new for 2020. Presented in a 43mm stainless steel case, it features a ‘newly refined dial’. It is also joined by a second version, housed in an 18-carat rose gold case. Earlier this year, Angus Davies visited Chopard’s headquarters in Geneva to get ‘hands-on’ with the steel version.
The human face can say much without a single word being spoken. Some faces are plain, reveal little emotion and lack any accompanying soundtrack, possibly suggesting shyness. In some cases, a person’s eyes have a tendency to look away, often a sign they are peddling a falsehood.
In my opinion, the most desirable face is blessed with a subtle beauty, encompassing optimally positioned features. The non-verbal facial gestures are congruent with the words spoken and the face’s appearance contributes to the conversation, efficiently conveying meaning.
This description could be applied to the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin. Launched in 2016, it has a prepossessing beauty. The complexion of its dial is pure and blemish-free, save for its sun-kissed skin tone and a few judiciously placed beauty spots.
Image – Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin in stainless steel (168561-3001)
Earlier this year, I visited Chopard’s headquarters, on the outskirts of Geneva, and tried on a steel version of the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin. This model has recently received a tasteful facelift for 2020, something the brand describes as ‘a newly refined dial’.
The latest version is offered in two case options, 18-carat rose gold or stainless steel. During my time at Chopard HQ, I succumbed to the charms of the latter reference, attracted to its seductive blue dial hues and saintly silver-toned case. However, beyond the aesthetic allure of both versions, each option converses with lucid efficiency.
The Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin ref. 168561-3003 is decorated with a sunburst satin-brushed motif. Unlike many watches, the pattern doesn’t emanate from the centre of the dial but spreads outwards from the big date display. This upholds the well-loved L.U.C design language where often the satin-brushed pattern originates from the brand’s nomen.
While this is a new version of the L.U.C Perpetual Twin, with several refinements, the Maison has still retained some of the existing model’s popular elements. For example, the hours and minutes are conveyed with rhodium-plated Dauphine-type hands. The circular day and month displays continue to be framed with snailed tracks, chamfered rims and are labelled accordingly. The chemin de fer has been retained, delineating the dial area from the case.
I freely admit to liking the 2016 version of the L.U.C Perpetual Twin, however, this model feels even cleaner and notably fresh-faced. For example, the dial eschews the oversized Roman numerals of the former model, in favour of neat, rhodium-plated indexes. The indexes resemble arrow fletchings, guiding the eyes to the fulcrum of the dial.
Positioned below noon, two apertures reveal the prevailing date, employing large black numerals set against two white discs. The big date is technically more challenging to realise than a simple one disc display because the two discs have to collaborate mechanically to display the correct date without any annoying mishaps.
With a simple calendar watch, the wearer has to manually adjust the date on the first day of the month when the previous month contains less than 31 days.
An annual calendar obviates this requirement, identifying those months containing 30 days and advancing the date accordingly. However, an annual calendar requires human intervention on the 1st of March, as February always contains fewer than 30 days.
In terms of calendar displays, the ultimate complication is the perpetual calendar. This movement has the capacity to identify those months containing 28, 29, 30 and 31 days, advancing the date accordingly. Assuming the watch is kept wound, the date will not require manual adjustment until 2100. As its name implies, the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin ref. 168561-3003 features a perpetual calendar. It displays the date, the day, the month and incorporates a leap-year indicator.
Unlike some watches equipped with a perpetual calendar, the dial does not prove overwhelming. The design of this updated model cleverly uses colour and texture to frame the indications, thereby presenting information in a comprehensible form. For example, the day and month displays are blue in the middle and framed with a silver-toned track. This latter hue, contrasts with its surroundings, augmenting the readability of each function.
Another charming aspect of Chopard’s design language, beyond the sunburst motif’s unusual point of origin, is the style and position of the leap-year indicator which overlaps the month display. These soupçons of quirkiness make the styling of the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin ref. 168561-3003 even more endearing.
Surprisingly, despite the technical complexity of the movement within the L.U.C Perpetual Twin, the case dimensions prove modest. The model measures 43mm in diameter, while the movement’s slender torso ensures the case height is just 11.47mm.
While the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin ref. 168561-3003 possesses a modest temperament, the bezel and upper lug surfaces are highly polished. The case band features vertical satin-brush, upholding the tried and tested L.U.C design language. By juxtaposing both finishes, one counterbalances the other, contributing to the model’s elegant mien. The resultant appearance proves handsome and converses with onlookers with seemly tone and volume.
The case back, again highly polished, is retained with eight screws and features a widescreen pane of sapphire crystal, affording views of the movement within. The lugs are relatively short, sitting close to the body of the watch head. This trait, along with the lug’s sharply dipping profile, guides the strap downwards, mitigating the sense of scale and heightening the ergonomic relationship between the watch and its wearer.
At the heart of the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin ref. 168561-3003 is the Calibre L.U.C 96.22-L movement. One glance at the movement reveals a high level of finishing. The bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève motif and feature gleaming bevels. The jewel and screw sinks are highly polished, contrasting beautifully with neighbouring surfaces. Perlage, a series of overlapping circles, embellishes the main plate, upholding fine watchmaking practice.
This movement is equipped with a micro-rotor, a feature which is an integral part of the brand’s DNA. In 1996, Chopard equipped the inaugural L.U.C model, the L.U.C XPS 1860, with a 22-carat gold micro-rotor.
A micro-rotor has two benefits. Unlike a regular oscillating weight, a micro-rotor sits flush with neighbouring bridges, mitigating height. Furthermore, the absence of a full-size oscillating weight allows the wearer to see more of the movement and savour its exquisite execution. While some other brands make movements endowed with a micro-rotor there are not many firms possessing the necessary expertise.
Chopard has equipped the Calibre L.U.C 96.22-L with the Maison’s Twin Technology. Most watches feature one barrel containing one mainspring. This model has two barrels, each containing a mainspring. The movement will run autonomously for 65 hours, however, that is not the biggest benefit of having two barrels. With one large barrel, the force from the mainspring serving the escapement will markedly drop, causing the amplitude of the balance to diminish, impairing precision. By using two barrels, the force serving the escapement will remain consistent for longer, mitigating any adverse influence on the amplitude and, by default, maintaining accuracy.
The Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin ref. 168561-3003 is a chronometer, independently certified by COSC. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 29 jewels.
The 2016 version of the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin remains handsome. It has worn its years well and I suspect it will continue to do so. Indeed, one of the benefits of the brand’s L.U.C models is that they possess lasting eye-appeal. For example, the L.U.C XPS 1860 of 1996 can still turn heads with its arresting looks.
Chopard has not abandoned some of its tried and tested design elements. The Dauphine-type hour and minute hands, the vertical satin-brushed case band and the Calibre L.U.C 96.22-L are all employed on this latest model.
Where this luxury marque has made changes it has skilfully refined the dial’s appearance, heightening its overall aesthetic allure. The move to dart-shaped indexes, the blue dial hue and the silver-toned tracks framing the day and month displays, synergistically augment the dial’s attractiveness. However, beyond its bewitching looks, this dial converses with crisp tone, displays no distracting behaviour and communicates free of ambiguity. Indeed, this is a face I could easily grow accustomed to seeing more often.
- Model: Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin
- Reference: 168561-3003
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 43 mm; height 11.47 mm; sapphire crystal to front and exhibition case back
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; big date; day; month; leap-year indicator
- Movement: Calibre L.U.C 96.22-L; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 29 jewels; power reserve 42 hours; COSC certified chronometer
- Price: €24,600 (RRP as at 15.6.2020)