Chopard is famous for jewelry, watches and accessories such as fragrances, writing instruments and sunglasses. Women particularly like Chopard’s Happy Diamonds – watches and jewelry with diamonds that “dance” freely between two panes of transparent sapphire. But not everyone is aware that Chopard has been a full-fledged watch manufacture since 1996. Chopard’s outstanding watchmakers have mastered nearly every horological task from simple movements to grand complications.
In 1963, the Scheufele family from Pforzheim, Germany, took over the Geneva-based manufacturer, which had been founded in 1860, and expanded it into an internationally successful brand with its own boutiques. Caroline Scheufele is currently responsible for women’s watches and jewelry, while her brother and co-president, Karl-Friedrich, takes care of men’s watches and the manufacturing of movements in Fleurier, Switzerland.
Two buildings, each dedicated to its own specific function, stand in Fleurier in the Canton of Neuchatel. The Chopard Manufacture produces the fine L.U.C calibers, which bear the initials of the cmpany’s founder Louis-Ulysse Chopard and are manually decorated according to the traditional rules oh haute horlogerie. Across from that building stands the Fleurier Ebauches factory, where Chopard manufactures its own movements for the brand’s somewhat less costly collections, such as the Classic Racing, the new Alpine Eagle and the Happy Sport ladies watches. Here manufacturing relies more on machines than on handcrafts-manship, and less manual work is required for the embellishments.
Watchmakers at Chopard’s headquarters also devote their skills to in-house calibers: L.U.C movements that bear the Geneva Seal are assembled, regulated and escased in Geneva, thus complying with the strict requirements of this prestigious quality seal. These rigorous stipulations include polished and beveled heads on the screws, and polished chamfers around the rims of the goles that accommodate the jewels in the plates and bridges. Furthermore, the movement must not show any traces left from the machining process. Although no every Chopard movement bears the Geneva Seal, these strict specifications nonetheless show the high level of quality that L.U.C movements uphold.
Chopard’s first movement of its own, which was developed and built in 1996, was Caliber L.U.C 96. It is equipped with a microrotor, itd balance oscillates at the modern frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, and its two barrels provide 65 hours of power reserve. This long-lasting running autonomy is achieved by the brand’s “Twin Technilogy”, which superimposes one barrel directly atop its counterpart. With an overall height of just 3.3 mm, this movement is also suitable for very slim and elegant watches like the L.U.C XP and the L.U.C XPS. The letters “XP” in these names stand for extra flat, the final “S” indicates the presence of a seconds hand.
Caliber L.U.C. 96 remains an important pillar in Chopard’s portfolio of manufacture calibers. It is built with or without small seconds, with date display or moon-phase display, and with outsize date display, Chopard’s also uses this movement as the basis for grand complications, such as perpetual calendar with outsize date or a tourbillon.
The Chopard manufacture tool Twin Technology another step further: the L.U.C Quattro with Caliber 98 is equipped with two double-decker barrels – a total of four mainsprings. This quartet enables the hand-wound watch with power-reserve display and hand-type date display to amass a nine-day power reserve.
The L.U.C Triple Certification Tourbillon with Caliber L.U.C 02-13-L is also based on the Quattro movement and runs for nine consecutive days. As its name states, it has earned three certifications: in addition to the COSC chronometer certificate and the Geneva Seal, it also bears the Qualite Fleurier seal. Created by Chopard, Parmigiani, Bovet and Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, the Qualite Fleurier seal specifies aesthetic criteria, insists that the development and all steps in production must take place in Switzerland, and tests the durability of the entire watch. These test focus principally on the winding shaft, shock resistance, water resistance and the protection against magnetic fields. Finally, the examiners monitor the accuracy of the encased movement. Its deviation from perfect timekeeping must not exceed 5 seconds per day during a long-term simulation of natural movements.
From a simple two-handed watch , through a chronograph, tourbillon and perpetual cal-endar, to an innovative minute repeater, Chopard has mastered the entire spectrum of manufacture watchmaking. In addition, the brand offers watches with richly decorated L.U.C calibers, some of which boast the most prestigious quality seals, as well as sportier models with more affordably priced Fleurier Ebauches movements, for the affluent collector and the newsomer alike.
Chopard’s first movement of its own was developed and built in 1996.
A tonneau-shaped movement from Chopard attracted lots of attention in 2001. The L.U.C 98.01-L with micromotor, 65-hour power reserve and Geneva Seal still ticks today inside the white-gold L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru men’s watch, which is decorated with baguette diamonds.
Caliber L.U.C 01, which debuted in 2010, is more of a workhorse and far exceeds all other Chopard Manufacture movements in terms of the numbers ot watches produced L.U.C 01 features a central seconds hand, a central rotor, a 60-hour power reserve and an optional date window. Chopard developed it as a robust basic movement and also offers it in a slightly simpler non-L,U,C version from the Fleurier Ebauches factory. (Chopard currently pursues this two-track model policy with only two og its movements).
The caliber ticks with a world-time display under the designation L.U.C 01.05-L in the L.U.C Time Traveler One. In addition to powering one hand each for the hours, minutes and seconds, it also propels a date hand and a 24-hour ring. The latter corresponds to a city ring marked with reference points for the 24 standart full-hour time zone on Earth. Turning the upper crown repositions the hands and also causes the hour ring to move along with them, turning the lower crown switches the city ring to anu desired location, while the hour ring jumps along in single-hour increments.
Caliber L.U.C 01.01-L is also on duty inside the L.U.C 1937 in stainless steel. Its retail price of $8,790 makes it the least costly L.U.C model. The most affordable access into Chopard’s world of manufactory watches is provided by the non-L.U.C version of Caliber 01.01-C, which ticks inside the Mille Miglia GTS Automatic ($5,790). This movement also powers the new Alpine Eagle with integrated steel strap.
Sportiness is again the key feature in a second movement (Caliber 03), which is available either in a hand-decorated L.U.C version or in a machine-embellished version. The 03 is a chronograph caliber with flyback function, column wheel, vertical clutch, central rotor and 60-hour power reserve. It animates the Superfast Chrono as Caliber 03.05-M, while its elaborately decorated version (L.U.C 03.-3-L) powers is available either in a stainless-steel case or in a case made of titanium with a scratch-resistant coating called Titalyt.
In 2018, Fleurier Ebauches developed petite Caliber 09.01-C especially for the ladies watches in the Happy Sport collection. This developed meant that the 30-mm-diameter case of these feminine models could be equipped with a manufacture movement.
Chopard also offers very special manufacture watches for hard-to-please connoisseurs. These elite models begin with the aforementioned tourbillon, witch amasses a nine-day power reserve, continue with the L.U.C Perpetual T, which adds a perpetual calendar, and culminate in the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono tiwh Caliber L.U.C 03.10-L, which adds a perpetual calendar to the flyback chronograph.
In 2018, Chopard premiered the most complicated watch in the company’s history: the L.U.C All-in-one. The front side of the watch shows the time of day and also features a tourbillon and a perpetual calendar with an outsize date display. On the back there is day\night display, a sunrise and sunset indication, a display of the equation of time (the difference between actual solar time and official civil time) and an orbital astronomical moon-phase. This movement also amasses a long-lasting power reserve of seven days duration, which is also considered a complication. The caliber consists of 516 individual components.
A special position is occupied by the L.U.C Full Strike, an innovative minute repeater that Chopard introduced in 2016. It is powered by Caliber L.U.C 08.01-L, which contains 533 components, whus exceeding the number of parts in the L.U.C All-in-one. Several details were newly developed to optimize the sound of the chimes. For example, The gongs are made of sapphire crystal and form a unit with the crystal above the dial. This assures that the chimes resound very brightly and that their sound waves can propagate undisturbed from the inside of the watch to the outside.
Chopard also made sure that this watch produces no unwanted noises during and after the chimes. The strike governor is inaudible and no click can be heard when the mechanism switches into sleep mode. The necessary energy is provided via a single crown: turning it in one direction winds the timekeeping movement, turning it the other way winds the minute repeater. With its two barrels, Caliber 08.01-L builds up a 60-hour power reserve, the chiming mechanism can strike 12 times in a row without requiring fresh manual winding. The little button that triggers the audible repetition is integrated into the top of the crown. Chopard has installed various protective mechanisms to prevent the user from damaging the movement due to careless handling: for example, the crown is automatically decoupled from the movement while the chimes are striking so the user cannot damage the mechanisms by resetting the time display during this period.
From a simple two-handed watch, through a chronograph, tourbillon and perpetual calendar, to an innovative minute repeater, Chopard has mastered the entire spectrum of manufacture watchmaking. In addition, the brand offers watches with richly decorated L.U.C calibers, some of which boast the most prestigious quality seals, as well as sportier models with more affordably priced Fleurier Ebauches movements, for the affluent collector and the newcomer alike.