October 13, 2016
by James Stacey
In 2016, Chopard is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its manufacture in Fleurier, and while the list of anniversary pieces will extend before the end of the year (wink-wink), today in London the brand launched a new L.U.C GMT and the piece that we are looking at now: the Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One.
First things first: yes, they’re making a version in steel – that’s the one you see directly above. In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of their manufacture in Fleurier, the Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One is Chopard’s first world-time watch and it’s something of a stunner. Based around a very wearable case size of 42mm, the new Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One manages to mix the more decorative and ornate philosophies of L.U.C with Chopard’s proven ability to make a wearable and accessible everyday watch.
On a personal note, it’s relieving to see how, as years go by, Chopard is not giving up one bit of its own DNA and proudly “spicy” design choices. Quality of execution in recent years has allowed L.U.C to punch a few tiers above its price segment (and hit hard), but the designs you will never mistake for something from the more established brands.
Available in three versions spanning steel, rose gold and platinum (that’s how you see them from 1st through 3rd in the images just above). The steel and platinum versions are most easily differentiated by their dial coloring – and the platinum’s remarkable heft, as this dense precious metal pulls on the wrist like nothing else. The platinum Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One features what Chopard calls a Blue-Grey dial (that is actually more like “aqua,” a vivid and vibrant metallic green, than anything else) with white accents, while the steel version has a more leisurely black dial with orange luminous accents. All versions measure a welcome 42mm across and 12.1mm thick, with sapphire crystals front and back, and a 50m water resistance.
World time watches, like GMTs, come in all shapes and sizes, from passive iterations like Seiko’s now vintage 6117-6400 to partial complications like that of the Nomos Zurich Weltzeit, and true world timers (which show all major time zones at all times) like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time (hands-on here).
The Chopard L.U.C time Traveler One is a true world timer, using a rotating 24-hour ring to co-ordinate the time in all of the cities on the ring encircling the dial. Local time and date (a welcome feature nicely interpreted, here indicated by an arrow-pointer on the inner dial) is set by the crown at 2, while the city disc is synchronized with the crown at 4. Once set, the wearer need only glance for their city and read the corresponding hour number from the 24-hour display and the minutes from the minute hand.
When you take the new Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One in the hand and pull the globe-marked crown at 4 out to its setting position and turn it, you’ll be surprised to hear a very heavy and satisfying click as the bi-color 24-hour disc jumps in one-hour increments. You can tell that this is not an off-the-shelf solution but something that they did take their time to get it just so. Kudos for small details like this.
The Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One uses a new Chopard in-house-made automatic movement, the calibre 01.05-L. It is based on their 01 calibre that was modified to better accommodate this new function. Visible through a display case back, this 4Hz movement is COSC-certified and offers a weekend-beating 60-hour power reserve.
I love a world timer, so it’s hard for me to fight the appeal of a steel world timer from Chopard, especially one with a judicious use of orange luminous paint. In fact, the steel Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One borrows some aesthetic elements from Chopard’s gone but not forgotten Pro One Diver. While my tastes would lean towards the steel version, all three versions have a distinct appeal. The bluey-green color of the dial on the platinum version is strange and wonderful and the silver and blue coloring of the rose gold version is also modern and even a bit youthful (for a gold watch, that is).
For their first world timer, Chopard looks to have a winner on their hands, as the 42mm sizing should be quite popular for most wrists, and the option of a steel version suggests that Chopard would like people to buy and wear the Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One like an everyday watch. The case shape is classical without being overly vintage-inspired, pulling queues from twin crown models of the Sixties.
The case sides are brushed while the bezel and lug tops are polished to add just a hint of ornamentation that looks nicely matched by Chopard’s selection of a simple alligator leather strap. One thing to note is that the lugs are rather long and, hands-on, the double crown layout adds more visual “weight” – cumulatively these factors make the Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One wear a bit larger the 42mm size would suggest.
The Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One will start at US$12,800 in steel, US$22,500 for the rose gold, and finally US$35,200 for the platinum version. While Chopard is definitely late to the world timer game, the the Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One certainly looks like it has what it takes to contend with the competition and bring new eyes to the L.U.C lineup. chopard.com