In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the L.U.C collection, Chopard unveiled a new version of its innovative minute repeater at Watches and Wonders 2022 that once again demonstrates the technical prowess of the manufacture. Part of an upcoming trio called The Sound of Eternity, an extraordinary collection of chiming watches, the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire pushes the boundaries of the sophisticated grand complication genre and marks some firsts in the realm of haute horlogerie. This collection of extraordinary chiming watches is the brainchild of Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, a great music lover and friend of famed tenor José Carreras. In order to improve the acoustics of the sapphire gongs introduced in the first Chopard L.U.C Full Strike model six years ago, Scheufele pulled out all the stops by working with two accomplished contemporary musicians and an acoustic expert. Limited to five pieces only, the crown-operated minute repeater is presented in a case entirely made of sapphire crystal. Not only the case itself has been crafted in the material, but also the crown, lugs, case back, and dial are made of this difficult-to-machine but very hard, scratch-resistant, and durable material. It was certainly worth the effort because the sapphire crystal fully reveals the beauty and sophistication of this complex timepiece from all sides and angles – a feast for the eyes and the ears!
Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire
At the heart of this minute repeater is hand-wound Caliber L.U.C 08.01-L, which comprises no fewer than 533 components and offers a power reserve of 60 hours. It is also notable that the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire is the first watch in a non-metal case that can pride itself on bearing the prestigious Geneva Seal and having earned an official C.O.S.C. chronometer certificate at the same time. This is a very rare combination, as the Seal of Geneva, which requires the highest finishing standard in the industry, is restricted to manufactures that are based in the canton of Geneva. However, this is not the first Chopard watch that carries both distinctions – in fact, this is true for a number of the brand’s haute horlogerie models.
Following the example of the magnificent L.U.C Full Strike, presented in 2016 and awarded with the Aiguille d’Or of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève one year later in 2017, the minute repeater mechanism of this watch employs solid sapphire crystal gongs and resonator, a combination that makes for a literally crystal-clear sound that is as strong and bold as it is beautiful. To further improve the acoustic richness of the sapphire crystal gong system, Chopard took an extraordinary approach initiated by co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele: the brand partnered with French violinist Renaud Capuçon, his brother, cellist Gautier Capuçon, and Professor Romain Boulandet, head of the Applied Acoustics Laboratory at Geneva’s HEPIA engineering school. This expert team conducted tests in an anechoic chamber entirely isolated from outside noise in order to optimize the exceptional intensity, clarity, and length of sound.
Showdown at 12:59
The magnificent chiming melody is especially exciting at 12:59, the longest time sequence, when the watch chimes 12 hours, three quarters, and 14 minutes. It is amazing that the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire performs this feat up to 12 times with just one barrel’s worth of energy. Like the previous editions, the energy for this performance is provided by a separate barrel and, thanks to this autonomous source, the strike work automatically respects the defined rhythm, whatever the time and however many times. If the barrel runs out of energy to power the minute repeater, a safety mechanism blocks its release.
In addition, Chopard has filed a patent for a new strike work activation device. As soon as this is activated the pusher is disengaged, thereby making it impossible to disturb or damage the mechanism. Even though the inner workings of the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire take center stage, the dial also deserves attention. Also crafted in sapphire crystal, it highlights the top-notch finishing of the skeletonized movement. The peripheral railroad minute track in black is complemented by a chapter ring with rhodium-plated herringbone-shaped applied hour markers.
At 3 o’clock, Chopard integrated a concentric power reserve indicator in which two hands indicate the remaining energy of the movement and the strike work respectively.