At Baselworld 2014, Chopard scored altruistic points with the release of a dashing Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon QF timepiece crafted from Fairmined Gold. It also happens to be among a growing collection of watches with the Qualite Fleurier seal applied to it. The Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon is the first timepiece to use this type of gold, which is meant to be a more socially conscious gold in regard to how it was mined. In terms of its general properties, the gold is much like any other gold; however, the way in which it is mined has the potential for sustainable development in parts of South America.
Chopard has taken a great interest in this cause as part of its "The Journey to Sustainable Luxury" agenda. The Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon QF is a testament to the companies commitment–but what does it mean to the end consumer?
Fairmined gold is gold extracted by artisanal or small scale farmers which have adhered to Fairmined standards. These standards ensure the gold is mined by responsible certified miners and their families, who follow strict requirements for social development, environmental protection, labor conditions and economic development in their mining communities.
Chopard teamed up with the Columbian-based NGO ALM (Alliance for Responsible Mining). ALM sets and enforces the standards for artisanal mining in this area. Chopard is furthering this endeavor by supporting the Coodmilla Corporation. The Coodmilla Corporation, established by former employees of a US-owned mine located in the Nariño Region of Columbia, is in the process of attaining a Fairmined Certification. The mine was shuttered in 1977; however, former employees obtained mining titles, and with Chopard's help, will receive the Fairmined Certification.
Once the Fairmined standards are achieved, Chopard intends to buy a fair amount of gold from this and other corporations. The Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon Qualite Fleurier timepiece publicizes this endeavor as well as contributes to the cause.
Without the ethical profundity of the gold itself, the timepiece does exceptionally well on aesthetics and movement alone. I personally love the combination of the rose gold case and bezel against the dark gray dial for numerous reasons. The dark dial accentuates the exquisite rose gold hue of the surrounding bezel and underlying case. In addition, the readability is enhanced, as contrasting hands and indices are immediately perceptible. I also find a darker background reduces the cluttered look of a dial, as empty space between numerals, hands, complications and indicators seem more prominent.
In terms of dial construction, the placement of empty space between these factors are as important as the factors themselves. For example, on the 43mm dial of the Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon QF, the 12 o'clock numeral is omitted and in its stead is the 9 day power reserve indicator. The power reserve indicator is only slightly larger than the placement of the 12 o'clock roman numeral, leaving an empty area beneath the indicator and above the hands, aside from the unobtrusive-yet-discernible lettering of the collection title and certifications, thus maintaining the clarity of a clutter-free dial.
The tourbillon, caged beneath a small seconds sub dial, commands the lower portion of the dial adding the intriguing motion of Abraham Louis Breguet's mechanical mechanism beneath a stolid bridge. Originally designed to counteract the gravitational effects on the movement of a pocket watch, the current attraction of the tourbillon is not in its original function proposed by Breguet, but rather as a recognized feat of horological expertise. The assembly of a tourbillon is quite complex, as the balance and escapement is placed within a cage performing one revolution per minute.
In light of the fact that first impressions are made in one tenth of a second, the Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon does exceptionally well. Upon the wrist, the timepiece is the epitome of elegance. The darker dial creates a formidable presence softened by the warm glow of the rose gold bezel. The bold hand-applied roman numerals, minute track and Dauphine hands, signature of Chopards L.U.C. Classic 1937 Design, enable precise and swift perception.
Although this timepiece is essentially not very different from the other models in the L.U.C collection, other than the use of the Fairmmined Gold and the Qualite Fleurier Certification, it does have a combination of some of Chopard's best qualities.
The timepiece is powered via a hand wound L.U.C. 02.13-L1 movement. To achieve a power reserve of this stamina as well as a constant regularity of rate, Chopard incorporated its award-winning patented Quattro technology. This technology, unveiled in 2000, is aided by four stacked and series-coupled barrels ensuring no less than 216 hours of operating autonomy. The power reserve ensures the movement will drive the central hour and minute hands, the power reserve indicator at 12 o'clock, and the small seconds hand above a tourbillon at 6 o'clock for 9 days with persistent precision.