Chopard makes many beautiful watches, but none of them are more spectacular than the ones dubbed “L.U.C.” A nod to the brand’s founder, Louis-Ulysse Chopard the watches deserving of this designation showcase the efforts of a small group of elite artisans at Chopard’s Fleurier workshop. From the design and assembly of watch movements, to the careful finishing and polishing of individual pieces by hand, these designers, watchmakers, polishers and sculptors are responsible for some of the most spectacular creations in the world of horology.
Watches have been made under the Chopard brand since 1860, when Louis-Ulysse Chopard established his manufacture in Sonvilier, Switzerland, but that is only the beginning of the brand’s story. In 1996, under the leadership of the Scheufele family, Chopard returned to its roots by establishing a new state-of-the-art manufacture in Fleurier, in the Swiss Jura mountains. Purpose-built to house the team of artisans who create the brand’s most exceptional watch and jewellery pieces, this is where the L.U.C. collection comes to life.
While every L.U.C. creation is impressive, none is more so than the L.U.C. Full Strike, a minute-repeater launched in 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Fleurier manufacture. A minute-repeater is a watch that, in addition to displaying the time on its face, signals the hours, quarter hours and minutes on a series of tiny gongs, making it one of the most advanced complications in watchmaking.
The award-winning L.U.C. Full Strike is the result of almost 17,000 hours of development and two new patents, including gongs and watch glass machined from a single sapphire block. In addition, it is also marked with the prestigious Poinçon de Genève, or Geneva Seal, a superlatively exacting hallmark of quality given to only a handful of the world’s most prestigious watchmakers.
Composed of over 500 individual pieces, the L.U.C. Full Strike’s movement requires an exceptional degree of skill to assemble. “It takes at least ten years of experience for a gifted artisan to be able to craft a complex movement like this,” says Christophe, the watchmaker challenged with this task. As an artisan with almost two decades of experience at Chopard’s Fleurier workshop, however, he is uniquely qualified to execute it. “The biggest difficulty is assembling the crystals bearing the gongs,” he admits. “Assembling this mechanism made of hundreds of components is hard work that takes time and perseverance. It is only achievable by human hand.”
The end result, however, is worthwhile to anyone who is fortunate enough to experience the watch in person, see the hammers striking the gongs through its glass and hear the chimes created by the L.U.C. Full Strike’s unique acoustic design. “While these are timepieces that merely appear to indicate hours, minutes and seconds, the connoisseurs who acquire them know that the movement that makes time audible is in fact extremely complex,” says Christophe. “The minute repeater is the only complication that adds a whole new dimension to the timepiece: acoustics,” adds Chopard co-president Karl-Friederich Scheufele. “It’s a world apart. And when you first discover the beauty of the sound of the L.U.C. Full Strike, one cannot but marvel at such an amazing accomplishment.”