To many, Chopard is predominantly seen as a jewelry house and not really thought of as a serious horological manufacture. This perception has solid reasons, including some questionable watch designs in the past and their focus on high-end watchmaking, which has presented certain challenges. However, after you've finished reading this, you'll understand why the Chopard L.U.C. 1860 defies these preconceptions and holds a highly esteemed position among enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
The example we have here today is far from your ordinary L.U.C. 1860. However, before we get into it, I believe it is important for us to grasp some historical context in relation to the L.U.C. 1860. The 1990s marked a period of recovery, as companies remained cautious following the devastating impact of the quartz crisis in the 1980s. Consequently, most watch brands adopted a conservative approach during this era. They relied on movements that had been in use for decades, often sourced from suppliers like Valjoux, Lemania, and ETA. With only a few exceptions, this was simply not a time for bold experimentation.
Relative to this, Chopard was striving to establish itself as a reputable watchmaking brand, embarking on this journey in 1993 with the collaboration of independent watchmaker Michel Parmigiani. This partnership demonstrated their commitment to this endeavour. Notably, it wasn't until 1996 that they deemed themselves ready to introduce their prestigious watchmaking line, known as the manufacture L.U.C.
The example you see here today is actually a much later variant derived from the original L.U.C. 1860 – this is the Hour Glass Limited Edition with a beautiful champagne gold dial, limited to only 10 pieces worldwide and made discreetly for their most exclusive clients. Because this is a later variant, there are several remarkable features that make this variant stand out. The most notable among them is the in-house, self-winding Cal. 96.01-L, initially known as the Cal. 1.96 (Chopard later revised their movement naming convention, making it the Cal. 96.01-L). With just a single glance, even someone without any watch-related knowledge or expertise can appreciate its extraordinary beauty. Chopard's dedication to craftsmanship is clearly evident in this caliber as it ranks among the most exquisitely finished movements of its time. It boasts a stunning 22-carat gold micro-rotor with a billowing guilloché pattern, substantial hand bevelling throughout and deep Côtes de Genève engraving all over. Such meticulous finishing led Philippe Dufour to place Chopard second only to A. Lange & Söhne in terms of quality during that period.
Not only was the Cal. 96.01-L masterfully decorated; it also showcased Chopard’s impressive technical prowess. Featuring a 65-hour power reserve generated by two stacked mainspring barrels, it also incorporated a Breguet overcoil hairspring and a swan neck regulator, all of which contributed to its precision and power dispersion. When looking for a comparable movement, the closest match would be the ever-so-reliable Patek Philippe Cal. 240. While the latter holds historical significance and is undoubtedly impressive, a side-by-side comparison leaves no doubt about the superior choice. As an added bonus, this Chopard is not only Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) certified but also bears the prestigious Poinçon de Genève (Geneva Seal).
Flipping the watch back over onto its dial side, you will notice that there is a strong resemblance to a certain world-renowned Philippe Dufour Simplicity. This is because the dial was actually produced by Metelem, the same Swiss dial manufacturer Dufour used. The beautiful hand engine-turned dial is stepped and features a champagne gold tone, gold indexes, and a beautiful central guilloché pattern that reflects light beautifully.
I genuinely believe that the L.U.C. 1860 is one of the most underrated and overlooked watches out there, perhaps because from photos it just looks like an ordinary dress watch. However, its flawless 37mm dimensions and exceptional proportions truly create a sophisticated timepiece. What makes this watch even more exceptional is its rarity, with just 10 examples ever produced, and this example possibly being the only one currently available for sale on the market today.
It has been an absolute delight to handle this exquisite work of wearable art and now offer it on our website.