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Chopard stays focused on technical timekeeping at Watches and Wonders

The Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XP TT.

With a special edition Mille Miglia to commemorate a 36-year friendship, an ultra-thin Alpine Eagle, and much more, there’s a lot to take in from the Fleurier watchmaker.

Smack in the middle of the fair, we were called one evening to head out of Geneva and over to neighbouring Nyon, where the Scheufele family had a farm. The evening’s purpose was to celebrate the racing career of Jacky Ickx, one of the world’s greatest living motorsport racers, as well as the friendship between him and the family. At the same time, Chopard also released the seventh series of Mille Miglia watches, which began 25 years ago.

The Mille Miglia collection is, of course, dedicated to the vintage car race, and the Scheufeles, as well as Ickx, are regular participants and sponsors of the event. The latest version is the Classic Chronograph JX7, which has a glass box crystal and a midnight blue dial that mirrors the colour of Ickx’s Le Mans racing helmet.

Motorsport legend Jacky Ickx, seen here with the Chopard Mille Miglia JX7 Chronograph with one of his winning automobiles.
Motorsport legend Jacky Ickx, seen here with the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph JX7 in Lucent steel and Ethical gold with one of his winning automobiles.

The Le Mans helmet is a particularly notable one – it was the first full-face helmet ever worn during the race by Ickx, who considered existing options unsafe. With twin windows that were enhanced by white stripes, it was monikered the ‘owl’. This is, of course, replicated on the watch dial’s counters, which display the small seconds, 12-hour and 30-minute totalisers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, respectively. On the date disc, which is displayed between 4 and 5 o’clock, the dates ‘6’ and ‘24’ are in red to commemorate Ickx’s six victories in the 24-hour race.

The Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph JX7 in Lucent steel, shown here with the helmet that inspired it.
The Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph JX7 in Lucent steel, shown here with the helmet that inspired it.

The helmet design is also replicated on the sapphire crystal that protects the caseback, through which you can see Chopard’s COSC-certified self-winding chronograph, which has a reserve of 54 hours of power. The 40.5mm sized case is available in Lucent steel, or Lucent steel with Ethical gold, and is paired with a Dunlop pattern rubber strap that’s iconic of the collection. Both are limited editions, the steel up to 250 pieces, and the steel-and-gold in a numbered edition of 50.

The caseback of the watch bears a print of Ickx's helmet.
The caseback of the watch bears a print of Ickx’s helmet.

Poetic Watchmaking 

The L.U.C collection has always been dedicated to gentlepersons, and it’s never more evident than this year. Even with its technical models, it’s retained an elegance that is guaranteed to be everlasting. Forget about 20 years; these will look good a century from now.

The Chopard L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 in Ethical gold with Grand Feu enamel dial.
The Chopard L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 in Ethical gold with Grand Feu enamel dial.

Where to start? The Quattro Spirit 25 is probably our favourite this year, featuring Chopard’s L.U.C 98.06-L jumping hour movement that adds the four-barrel technology to deliver an impressive power reserve of eight days. Rarely have we seen or heard of a wristwatch with a jump hour function that can run for so long, though we have seen similar in pocket watches in the past. What’s more impressive is that the performance of the timekeeper is consistent throughout the entire span of its power reserve, guaranteed by the Poinçon de Genève.

The stunning L.U.C 98.06-L calibre delivers a whopping eight days of power.
The stunning L.U.C 98.06-L calibre delivers a whopping eight days of power.

The Seal, of course, also certifies the incredible craftsmanship of the watch, which has a 40mm Ethical white gold case and dial. The dial is then hand-painted with a deep black enamel and fired up at Grand Feu temperatures over and over to achieve the glossy, rich black tone of the dial. A minute track in white enamel with Arabic numerals is framed around the jumping hour window at 6 o’clock, framed in white gold. A single minute hand is used; the power reserve rests on the back of the movement, visible through the exhibition caseback.

The Chopard L.U.C Qualité Fleurier in Lucent steel.
The Chopard L.U.C Qualité Fleurier in Lucent steel.

L.U.Cs Galore 

Chopard is one of the few watchmakers that offer multiple certifications in one watch, and the L.U.C Qualité Fleurier from this year gives two notable performance certificates – the Qualité Fleurier (QF) that’s established together with Bovet and Vaucher, as well as COSC accuracy. The watch’s design stems from the first QF watch from 2005, with a silvered sector-style dial on a 39mm Lucent steel case.

The self-winding, ultra-thin L.U.C 96.09-L calibre drives the L.U.C Qualité Fleurier.
The self-winding, ultra-thin L.U.C 96.09-L calibre drives the L.U.C Qualité Fleurier.

What’s impressive is its slim profile at 8.92mm, thanks to the self-winding ultra-thin L.U.C 96.09-L movement within. The bidirectional winding rotor drives twin barrels that deliver a power reserve of 65 hours in a 3.30mm thin calibre. Seen through the caseback, it reminds us of beautiful pocket watch movements that Chopard himself made, which brought fame to the brand.

The Chopard L.U.C Full Strike in ceramised titanium.
The Chopard L.U.C Full Strike in ceramised titanium.

But the finest release from the L.U.C this year is the new Full Strike that’s housed in ceramised titanium, demonstrating the brand’s continued innovation in materials. The Full Strike offers an incredible and resounding chime for a minute repeater by using sapphire gongs and integrating them with the sapphire crystal of the watch to create greater resonance. This marks the first Full Strike in a ceramised titanium case, which forms via an electro-plasma process to oxidise the surface of the titanium material at extreme temperatures. This embeds the hardness and durability of high-tech ceramic within the titanium while retaining its lustre.

The caseback of the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike reveals the design of the gear train and hammers, as well as the barrels.
The caseback of the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike reveals the design of the gear train and hammers, as well as the barrels.

The 42.5mm case has a cool grey hue with a sandblasted finish and is paired with a mint green dial that’s similarly textured. Cutouts reveal the steel hammers, which are blackened through a PVD treatment. Across from it are two arced power reserve indications for the gear train and the minute repeater. If you recall, they have separate mainsprings, but both are wound directly via the crown. This is a stunning watch that will be limited to just 20 pieces globally.

The Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XP TT in full titanium.
The Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XP TT in full titanium.

Alpine Excellence 

The Alpine Eagle continues to expand, but our top pick this year would be the Alpine Eagle 41 XP TT, which is both ultra-thin and ultra-sexy. The watch houses the L.U.C 96.17-S and uses its mainplate as a dial, giving it an artfully exposed design that’s distinct from the Alpine Eagle’s dial finishing. The plate and bridges of this watch have been openworked to create a series of concentric arcs emanating from the centre of the dial. They are sandblasted and black rhodium-plated to contrast strikingly with the case, which is in grade 5 titanium and beautifully finished. At just 8mm thick, this is a really effortless watch to wear for formal or casual occasions or just because you feel like it.

There’s plenty more to cover in the coming weeks, but these are the watches that made the most impression on us from Chopard at Watches and Wonders. Which one caught your eye?

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Editor

Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.


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