November 13, 2017
by Ariel Adams
A staple of the Chopard L.U.C collection, the Chopard L.U.C Lunar One perpetual calendar, has been an underdog hero for high-end watch collectors since the model’s debut over a decade ago. Today, I review a newer limited edition version of the L.U.C Lunar One (reference 161927-9001) in a 950 platinum case with a trendy blue dial. It’s a very Chopard product, showcasing a lot of what the brand does best, and at a price which, comparatively speaking, is very decent.
A few years ago, I visited Chopard’s manufacture facility in Fleurier where they produce L.U.C collection watches. While all Chopard watches are technically speaking luxury products, the L.U.C collection is where collectors really put their attention given the movements. Most L.U.C watches are more traditional in their style, but with a healthy dose of (tasteful) masculinity as evidenced by the proportions, sizes, and strong presence of the watches overall.
Each L.U.C movement is produced in-house by Chopard, and includes finishing (decoration to the metal parts) which in my opinion rivals those which are considered the very best in the industry. A close look at the in-house made caliber L.U.C 96.13-L automatic movement through the rear of the case reveals careful attention, beautiful classic lines, excellent surface treatments, and a focus on practical utility that we watch lovers seek in timepieces we actually wear.
The only legitimate complaint I feel merits the presentation of the movement is that it only seems to take up 60% or so of the caseback. It is typical for picky watch collectors to have cases sized around the movement (in this case the case is 43mm wide and the movement is 33mm wide), as opposed to movements put into cases which are larger than necessary. This is a tricky discussion point because at the end of the day, Chopard (along with pretty much any other watch company), doesn’t want to be limited in how they size cases based on the movement sizes. With that said, there is a special appeal in viewing a sapphire crystal display caseback on the rear of the watch that takes up almost the entire space – as opposed to situations where the case size and movement don’t necessarily seem to match. Again, this is a small point that allowed me to simply discuss the subject. I really don’t think anyone is going to avoid buying this otherwise good watch because of the movement to case size ratio.
A discussion of the Chopard L.U.C 96.13-L mechanical movement should begin with the fact that it is both COSC Chronometer certified for accuracy, as well as certified with the Geneva Seal (Poinçon de Genève). The former is a more basic certification of movement performance and accuracy, whereas the Seal of Geneva is a bit more complicated in what it claims about a watch. In its most modern form, the Seal of Geneva at the same time attests to the fact that a movement was produced in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland, abides by particular decoration standards, and also conforms to certain performance standards. In a lot of ways, having COSC certification in addition to the Geneva Seal is a bit redundant. Though with both, Chopard gets to add extra bragging rights to each piece, while printing “Chronometer” on the Lunar One’s dial.
I would have loved for the movement to have Chopard’s “Quattro” system of four stacked mainspring barrels – that offers up to eight days of power reserve. I’m not sure if Chopard plans to update its core perpetual calendar movement in the future with more power reserve, but the L.U.C 96.13-L isn’t lacking. It has two stacked mainspring barrels which offer 65 hours of power reserve. Of course, the movement is also an automatic with a solid 22k gold micro-rotor.
Chopard recently released a similar looking watch in the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono (hands-on here in the same platinum/blue dial combination). The Perpetual Chrono adds a 12 hour chronograph to the perpetual calendar set of complications – though it is based on an entirely different movement, and unlike the L.U.C Lunar One, which is an automatic, the Perpetual Chrono is manually wound. If you are dying for a chronograph/calendar combo, then the choice for you will be obvious – though as a more practical daily wearer, I like the Lunar One a bit more.
Not only is the Lunar One free from the sub-dial “ears” (an aesthetic thing) which aren’t popular with all people on the Perpetual Chrono’s dial, it is also cheaper by about $40,000 (when comparing platinum models). The L.U.C Perpetual Chrono is also a larger watch coming in a 45mm wide case, versus the Lunar One’s still big (for a dress watch) 43mm wide size. Speaking of size, the Lunar One isn’t a small watch, and given the wide lugs, wears large for a 43mm wide watch. That’s not a bad thing, and I know of many people who like traditional watches in this particular size. With that said, given that watch lovers are very particular about the sizes they like, if you are interested in a more modestly-sized dress watch, then look for perpetual calendar watches elsewhere (there are arguably many).
Returning to the discussion of the movement, the automatic L.U.C 96.13-L operates at 4Hz (28,800bph), has 65 hours of power reserve, and is produced from 355 parts. In addition to time, complications include a perpetual calendar as well as a 122 year accurate moon phase indicator. The calendar system indicates the date (via big date display window), month, day of the week, leap year, and 24 hour (day/night) indicator. The overall layout of the dial is logical, and about as busy as you can get without it feeling overly cluttered. My only issue with the dial is that while some of the sub-dial hands are easy to see, others are not. For example, two of the sub-dials have a stubbier, lume-filled hand which is easy to spot. At the same time, those same dials also have a thinner, polished hand that doesn’t benefit from having a contrasting color. These thinner hands easily disappear given the lack of effective contrast, and make it challenging to see the day of the week and the month if you want to read them at a glance.
Legibility isn’t an issue with the most important hands, which are those for the hours and minutes. Beautifully perfect in size, the hour and minute hands further benefit from having luminous material, which contrasts well with the glossier tones of other dial elements.
Over the rich, metallic blue face are applied 18k white gold Roman numeral hour markers. Chopard designed these elements cleverly, as they are rounded in only one direction. That means they play with the light, but not so much as to cause reflective blur. I will, however, request that moving forward Chopard opt to coat the sapphire crystal over the dial with AR-coating on both sides (not just the underside as is done here).