Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF

The Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF has received a makeover for 2019. It sports a new case formed of ‘Fairmined’ 18-carat white gold, paired with a gorgeous blue-grey dial. Consistent with previous versions of the watch, the crown, dial and movement are offset by 30 degrees, conferring an unusual aesthetic coupled with a prepossessing charm.

This detailed review of the Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF includes images, specification details and pricing.

Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF

If you task a child with drawing a picture, they will invariably draw a yellow circle with a smiling face and sun rays encircling its form. Furthermore, people will be depicted with round heads with sticklike torsos and houses will have four windows, a front door and a smoking chimney. The fact is, their artistic efforts are notably predictable.

In the world of watch design, a timepiece will often feature a date aperture at 3 o’clock with a crown positioned adjacent and a small seconds display at 6 o’clock. There is an inevitability to its composition.  

Likewise, cars often subscribe to a formulaic style. However, consider the iconic Porsche 911. It sets aside convention, positioning the boot to the front and the engine to the rear. Few cars can surpass its aesthetic prowess.

Similar to the Porsche 911, the Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF incorporates the usual elements of a timepiece but eschews accepted practice. The crown and small seconds are skewed, sitting in positions seldom inhabited. The resultant mien is fresh and thought provoking.

This is not the first time Chopard has adopted this approach. The Maison released a version of the Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF Fairmined in 2017 with a rich rose gold case and slate grey dial incorporating a swirled motif. At the time, I was impressed with its unconventional appearance.

This year, the brand has unveiled a new Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF, housed in an ethically certified ‘Fairmined’ 18-carat white gold case coupled with a refined blue-grey dial. However, ‘beauty is more than skin deep’, this timepiece is equipped with the Calibre L.U.C 96.26-L, a self-winding movement, incorporating a micro-rotor and certified by COSC and the Fleurier Quality Foundation. Its credentials are beyond reproach.

The dial

The Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF incorporates some of the elegant design elements for which the LUC brand is known. The Dauphine-fusée hour and minute hands are executed with a rhodium plated finish. The have a stepped profile, exuding grace while enunciating the prevailing time with veritable efficiency.

Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF

Each hour is marked with a faceted and tapered, triangular index. At noon, double triangular indexes proclaim the midnight hour. Subscribing to convention, the date is proclaimed at 3 o’clock. Upholding horological etiquette, the date is depicted on a blue-grey disc, matching the hue of the main dial epidermis.

Sitting between 7 and 8 o’clock, the asymmetric positioning of the small seconds display represents this model’s first idiosyncrasy. Conversely, the Dauphine-fusée seconds hand and snailed detail respectfully uphold watchmaking tradition.

Often watch dials feature a sunburst motif, typically emanating from the centre of the dial. However, some former LUC models have centred the motif on the brand’s nomenclature, conferring a subtle and tasteful deviation from the norm. In this instance, the sunburst pattern originates from the small seconds display.

The case

While the Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF renounces some conventions, it respects others. In particular, this watch does not engage in outlandish behaviour, choosing instead to employ tasteful tones and understated aesthetics. This retiring demeanour is manifest with the case design.

Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF

The case is formed of ‘Fairmined’ gold. This noble metal is ‘responsibly sourced from artisanal mining cooperatives, where both the environment and miners are treated correctly, and to which Chopard pays a premium to be reinvested in community projects.’ The Maison is the ‘main global purchaser’ of ‘Fairmined’ gold.

The case measures a modest 40mm in diameter and a slender 7.7mm in height. This watch does not overwhelm the wrist, nor does it flamboyantly proclaim the wearer’s wealth. Indeed, such crass conduct is not consistent with the refined manner of this noble timepiece.

Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF

Maintaining the ‘twist’ theme, the crown is located at 4 o’clock. While this is aesthetically interesting, it also mitigates the risk of the crown chafing the skin or impinging free movement. Perhaps more crowns should be positioned adjacent 4 o’clock. The brand’s ‘L.U.C’ nomen adorns the vertical flank of the crown.

The caseband subscribes to LUC tradition, featuring a muted vertical satin-brush. This treatment extends to the vertical surfaces between the lugs. All remaining surfaces are highly polished. The watch is supplied with a hand-sewn blue-grey alligator leather strap paired with an 18-carat white gold pin buckle.

An exhibition caseback provides views of the self-winding movement, the Calibre L.U.C 96.26-L.

The movement

Chopard’s L.U.C brand is synonymous with high-end watchmaking. The Calibre L.U.C 96.26-L reinforces this reputation.

The slender movement measures just 3.3mm in thickness. However, despite its compact dimensions it is packed with numerous attributes. The movement features a micro-rotor, formed of 22-carat gold. Only a small number of brands offer self-winding movements equipped with a diminutive rotor of this type. One benefit of a micro-rotor is that, unlike a conventional oscillating weight, it does not obscure the views of the bridges, wheels etc. More pertinently, the micro-rotor sits flush with adjacent bridges, mitigating the depth of the movement and, by default, the height of the watch.

Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF

The Calibre L.U.C 96.26-L features two barrels which collaborate to deliver 65 hours of autonomy. The balance oscillates to a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 29 jewels.

Furthermore, beyond its technical virtues, this movement is beautifully finished. The bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève and feature gleaming bevels. A sea of perlage resides beneath the micro-rotor. The bridges are engraved with golden text and the jewel and screw sinks are polished, evincing a brilliant appearance. Everything is distilled to a pure conclusion.

The Fleurier Quality Foundation

The Fleurier Quality Foundation (Fondation Qualité Fleurier) is a ‘haute horlogerie quality certification’. The stringent requirements and exhaustive tests are widely considered the most challenging within the watch industry.

Firstly, the watch head, excluding the strap or bracelet, must be ‘Manufactured 100% in Switzerland’. While many so-called Swiss watches contain a percentage of Chinese components, the exacting requirements of the FQF are unequivocal.

Thereafter, the ‘movement must have a finish of exclusive aesthetic quality’. This outlines the finish required for the movement and its decoration. The criteria encompasses the materials used, the means of execution i.e. mechanical or manual techniques are permissible but not ‘operations carried out in bulk’. In particular, the ‘decoration must be visible on the maximum thickness of the plate or on the visible part of the bridge, as well as in the main recesses. No visible burrs must be present and the functional zones of the steel parts must be polished. The shaped parts must be bevelled, polished, and where technically possible have lines drawn out with file strokes.’

A representative sample of watches are subject to the Chronofiable test. The sample size is determined by the number of models produced in a series. In the case of the Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF, a limited edition of 250 pieces, 20 watch heads need to be submitted for testing.

The Chronofiable test includes an ‘ageing cycle’, where ‘test cycles designed to measure the pull-and-push forces on the stem’ are carried out. On chronographs, this includes measuring the forces exerted on the pushbuttons. In addition, tests are conducted on the susceptibility to magnetic fields and shocks and, lastly, water resistance.

All watches are submitted for chronometer testing (COSC). These tests are performed in static conditions, over a 15 day period at different temperatures. The movement is not cased whilst being tested.

Finally, the watch, in its cased-up form, is subject to the Fleuritest. This involves placing the watch on a robotic simulator for a 24-hour test period. The machine is said to recreate the movements of a nycthemeral cycle. This is where the robot simulates the wearing of a watch where the individual partakes in a series of mild activity such as slowly walking as well as engaging in both ‘active and extremely active phases’. This simulation provides a real-world measurement of the watch’s precision. The watch ‘must fall within the range of 0 to +5 seconds per day’.

The fact that the Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF fulfils the exacting criteria of the Fondation Qualité Fleurier stands testament to its finish, robustness and precision.

Closing remarks

I have always had a profound respect for Chopard’s LUC brand. The exalted standards of its watches justly stand comparison with some of the most revered practitioners of haute horlogerie. Moreover, I also appreciate the brand’s unassuming character. One is drawn to LUC models because of their intrinsic excellence, sophistication and poise. They are the antithesis of ‘bling’, designed to admired by the wearer rather than foolishly flaunted in a misplaced effort to vaunt wealth.

The dial, with its off-centre sunburst motif, exhibits a charming grace. Each dial component is delicate and subtle. The skewed position of the small seconds display provides a distinctive look, brimming with style.

The 18-carat ‘Fairmined’ gold case has a neutral quality, allowing the dial to come to the fore. Measuring 40mm in diameter, with a case height of 7.7mm, the case does not overwhelm the wrist. Everything appears hushed and restrained. The siting of the crown at 4 o’clock is yet another delightful touch which proves attractive and practical.

At the heart of the Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF is a sublime movement. Technical virtue coexists with peerless finishing. Furthermore, the independent award of Fleurier Quality Foundation certification provides would-be owners with the necessary assurance that their watch has satisfied an extremely stringent set of criteria.

The Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF subscribes to the design philosophy of the Maison while repositioning some elements with an endearing twist. Chopard has viewed a watch from a different perspective, abandoned protocol and conceived a wholly original design. This philosophy will resonate with the owners of the Porsche 911, a car which tore up the rule book for the delectation of petrolheads. Based on this latest version of the LUC XPS Twist QF, I can easily imagine this Chopard timepiece successfully emulating the iconic status of said Swabian thoroughbred.

Further reading

https://www.chopard.com

Technical specifications

  • Model: Chopard LUC XPS Twist QF
  • Reference: 161945-1001
  • Case: 18-carat white gold; diameter 40mm; height 7.7mm; water resistance 3ATM (30 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and caseback
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date
  • Movement: Calibre L.U.C 96.26-Lself-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 29 jewels; power reserve 65 hours
  • Strap: Hand-sewn blue-grey alligator strap paired with an 18-carat white gold pin buckle
  • Price: £16,500 (RRP as at 11.3.2019)
  • Limited Edition: 250 pieces