To mark the 25th anniversary of its L.U.C collection, Chopard has created a peerless transparent timepiece, as well as revolutionising the minute repeater for the second time in five years. In addition to the gongs of the L.U.C 08.01-L chronometer-certified calibre, the entire case, crown and dial of this new L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire model are cut from blocks of sapphire. Measuring 42.5 mm in diameter and totally transparent, it offers a 360-degree view of a movement with exceptional finishes. This entire horological prodigy bears the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark, a first for a non-metallic timepiece. Endorsed by virtuoso brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, its acoustic richness achieves an exceptional level of quality, while perfect homogeneity makes it an unparalleled timepiece combining a stunning conceptual challenge with supremely accomplished execution.
With the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire, the L.U.C collection takes a further step into the crystal age. In 2016, the first L.U.C Full Strike model heralded a new watchmaking paradigm, a novel way of generating and propagating the sound of a minute repeater. By using solid sapphire gongs and having the sapphire crystal serve as a resonator, as well as by making these two components into a single monobloc entity, Chopard Manufacture broke the glass ceiling. The result is incomparable tonal richness and acoustic intensity, qualities that previously earned the first L.U.C Full Strike model in rose gold the ultimate “Aiguille d’Or” award at the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
A SAPHIRE HEART
The L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire timepiece is the first minute repeater watch whose case is made entirely of corundum crystal, better known as sapphire. By merging container and content, musical expression and transparency, Chopard has created a veritable horological musical instrument. Thanks to the homogeneity of the material – which is present throughout the sound propagation chain – this five-piece limited series gets the very best from sapphire.
Above and beyond its aesthetic prowess, the choice of lab-created sapphire is justified by its technical properties: derived from synthetic corundum, this material is one of the most resistant to scratches and has an estimated hardness of nine on the Mohs scale, almost as hard as diamond. Moreover, although producing a sapphire case entails considerable machining difficulties, it has the advantage of remaining unalterable over time.
A SAPHIRE BODY
The 42.5 mm diameter case is 11.55 mm thick, with well-balanced proportions identical to previous versions of the L.U.C Full Strike, and which contribute to the characteristic elegance of the L.U.C collection. The bezel, caseband, crown, case-back and rear glass are all made of sapphire crystal. This rare model, whose absolute transparency enables the wearer to become one with the timepiece, has been created by specialised artisans mastering all the requirements of sapphire technology, from powder to finished component. The manufacturing process follows strict sustainable development rules, from the energy consumed in the production of corundum crystal through to transport.
In addition, the dial too is made of sapphire. Its distinctively cut shape enhances the indication elements essential for reading. Absolute transparency can in fact have the effect of blurring the view and Chopard has remedied this by creating a railway-type minutes track engraved on the sapphire crystal and painted. It complements a chapter ring punctuated with rhodium-plated herringbone-shaped applied hour-markers, and black transferred counterparts. The sapphire ring is interrupted by three elements. The first is the off-centre seconds counter. The second is an applied white gold plate bearing the “L.U.CHOPARD” logo. The third is the concentric power-reserve indicator in which two hands respectively indicate the energy remaining in the barrel that drives the movement as well as in the other powering the minute repeater.
The L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire is the first non-metallic timepiece to bear the prestigious Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark, covering both the design and finishing of the movement and the case. In addition, the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire watch inherits the latest advances with which the L.U.C 08.01-L movement is endowed. Its patented resonant sapphire structure is complemented by several innovative technical systems, four of which are patented.
In a minute repeater mechanism, the energy required by the strikework is provided each time the winding lever is activated. Here, the energy comes from a separate, dedicated barrel wound directly by the crown. It enables the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire to chime the most complex and energy-intensive time of day (or night) – namely 12 hours and 59 minutes – up to 12 times. This exceptional autonomy is due to several factors. It benefits from the contribution of a patented clutch-lever mechanism that ensures that the strikework going train is blocked, to avoid losing power reserve during the information capture that controls the minute repeater.
This autonomy is moreover also the result of Chopard Manufacture’s experience in multiple barrels. The founding movement of the L.U.C collection – L.U.C Calibre 96.01-L launched 25 years ago – in fact already featured Chopard Twin technology, whose two superimposed barrels deliver long-lasting and reliable force. Since it has an autonomous energy source, the strikework systematically respects the defined rhythm, whatever the time that is chimed and however many times it chimes.
Keen to preserve the user-friendliness of the minute repeater and to make its operation as secure as possible, Chopard Manufacture has introduced a number of innovative systems. Thus, if the barrel no longer has sufficient force to power the minute repeater, a safety mechanism blocks its release. In addition, Chopard has filed a patent for a new strikework-activation device. As soon as it is activated, the pusher is disengaged, thereby making it impossible to disturb the running of the minute repeater or to damage it.
So as to optimise and perpetuate the acoustic richness of the monobloc sapphire crystal/gong system derived from the L.U.C Full Strike, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele has initiated a new approach. In 2018, while attending a concert given by violinist Renaud Capuçon, he realised that a minute repeater watch should be designed as a musical instrument and should deliver something more – namely emotion.
Renaud Capuçon is a virtuoso of his time as well as a specialist in acoustics and sound – just like his brother, cellist Gautier Capuçon. Both play instruments that are several hundred years old and which embody a perfection and uniqueness that have stood the test of time. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele decided to call upon the two soloists to join forces with Professor Romain Boulandet – head of the Applied Acoustics Laboratory at Geneva’s HEPIA engineering school – whose work in an anechoic chamber perfectly isolated from noise pollution has demonstrated that the sound of Chopard’s minute repeater is powerful, harmonious and crystal clear.
Together, these experts have combined their skill and knowledge to conduct an analysis that goes beyond the purely measurable criteria of acoustics to enter another dimension: that of sound as perceived by the listener. The L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire timepiece benefits from their analysis and their contribution, both scientific and emotional. Thanks to Chopard’s unalterable sapphire gongs, the sound of the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire is unchanging, stemming from the orchestration of complementary talents: Karl-Friedrich Scheufele for watchmaking precision; Renaud and Gautier Capuçon for artistic and emotional endorsement; and Romain Boulandet for scientific expertise.
A BLEND OF HERITAGE AND MODERNITY: 25 YEARS OF THE L.U.C COLLECTION
Since 1996, Chopard Manufacture has been reflecting the inspired vision of the Maison’s Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. Twenty-five years after presenting its first movement, the Manufacture has acquired a degree of maturity enabling it to provide a range encompassing the entire spectrum of horological complications – all in-house crafted through an alliance of tradition and innovation.
From movement development to adjustment and quality control, along with finished product design, the stamping and machining of cases as well as movement components, engraving and traditional hand-crafted finishes, gemsetting, surface treatments, polishing and assembly: its workshops in Geneva and Fleurier enable Chopard to master the entire production process involved in each creation composing the L.U.C collection. The work of experienced artisans, these timepieces with their simple and pure design express a high degree of mechanical sophistication.