September 19, 2015
by Ariel Adams
Regulator watches are popular, but they aren’t typically my style or taste. I love the story of their purpose and history, but I tend to find regulator-style dials to be difficult to read and often not particularly attractive. That isn’t always the case, however, and there are always wonderful exceptions to people’s general preferences. So with that said, if I had to choose a regulator watch, it would very easily be the Chopard L.U.C Regulator timepiece which debuted new for 2015 at Baselworld. It combines a lot of the attractive elements of a Chopard L.U.C with a new regulator-style design that, in my opinion, the brand finally got right. I first wrote about the 2015 Chopard L.U.C Regulator here.
Even though this particular reference 161971-5001 Chopard L.U.C Regulator watch is new, there have been prior Chopard L.U.C Regulator watches, and the new version uses an existing movement. The amazing thing for me is just how much better the entire watch is with this new dial style. I’ve included an image in this article of just one previous version of the Chopard L.U.C Regulator so that you can see what I am talking about.
If anything, the 2015 Chopard L.U.C Regulator watch is a testament to just how important good watch dial design is. Chopard has been really upping their game lately, and while not every watch they have been coming out with is for me, I can easily say that thanks to their upgraded designs, I want more than half of the timepieces they currently produce – especially among their higher-end L.U.C collection.
L.U.C watches are produced in their own dedicated watchmaking facility in Switzerland and represent the most exclusive timepieces that Chopard produces. aBlogtoWatch has visited this facility and the work is very impressive. What I most like is how Chopard combines traditional design elements with a very distinct sense of brand identity. When you see a Chopard L.U.C watch you know exactly what it is. Much of this is thanks to the original hands that Chopard used for this collection.
Regulator-style watch dials are typified by having a different dial for the hours, minutes, and seconds. Normally, the main dial is used to indicate the minutes and subdials are used for the hours and seconds. This comes from historic “regulator” clocks which were intended to be very precise clocks used to set other clocks. You’ve probably noticed that there are additional subdials on the Chopard L.U.C Regulator – and that is because Chopard ups the ante here of what their Regulator watch does.
The dial has a large central minutes hand with subdials for the hours and seconds, but also a power reserve indicator, as well as a 24-hour-format GMT hand for a second time zone. You also have a window for the date. Right there alone, you have a regulator style display with much more functionality than most normal regulator style watches.
With a mostly monochromatic dial, the Chopard L.U.C Regulator is wonderfully legible, but also symmetrical! The large minutes hand is in 18k rose gold to match the case material and color. One of the issues with older Chopard L.U.C Regulators was the lack of dial harmony, as well as symmetry.
The watch case is 43mm wide and a scant 9.78mm thick. The finishing on the case mixes polished and brushed surfaces to give it a high-end, but also modern look. Another of the issues with older L.U.C watches was their use of all-polished cases. Because the movement is manually wound, the case is able to be relatively thin, but is only water resistant to 30 meters. I am sure Chopard could get 50-100 meters out of these cases with little effort.
Viewing the movement through the rear of the case is a pleasure, given the decorative finishing. Though, I always chuckle when I see the “dog bone” style L.U.C logo which exists on the movement as well as the caseback. You might also notice the Seal of Geneva emblem on the case and movement. Most, if not all, current Chopard L.U.C watches offer the prestigious Seal of Geneva which is an important designator of where the movement was made, how well it is finished, and how well it performs when actually cased. COSC Chronometer certification, for example, tests just the movement outside of the case. But just to be sure, Chopard also sends the movement inside of the Chopard L.U.C Regulator to COSC for certification as well.
The movement in this watch is the in-house made Chopard caliber L.U.C 98.02-L. It is manually wound, but it has Chopard’s “Quattro” system which is two stacked mainspring barrels that offer 8 days of power reserve (216) hours. The movement also operates at a modern 4Hz and is produced from 240 parts. If I could give just one point of praise to L.U.C movements it is that they both look very nice and are designed to perform very well. I like to think of them as “beautiful workhorses.”
A lot of people are going to like the Chopard L.U.C Regulator watch merely because the dial looks both balance and “complicated.” With five hands and a lot going on, watches like this really strike a chord with our inner gadget nerds. It is just difficult to find complicated watch dials that also have a sense of elegance to them. You might disagree with me on the beauty of the Chopard L.U.C Regulator, but you can’t deny how relatively clean and effective the dial is.
Attached to the watch is a very nice brown alligator strap with a light alligator lining. The texture and gloss of the alligator helps round out the attractive high-end and masculine feel of the collection. Another thing I feel about Chopard L.U.C watches is that they offer a dressy design but also one that feels strong and a bit macho. That isn’t for everyone, but I happen to quite like it.
Chopard L.U.C collection watches aren’t cheap, but they tend to be a good value compared to some of the competition. I do feel as though most of the time you are getting about your money’s worth with a Chopard L.U.C timepiece as opposed to most of the competitive products from other established brands that almost always feel overpriced to some degree. Price for the Chopard L.U.C Regulator ref. 161971-5001 in 18k rose gold is $33,530. chopard.com