The Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer is close to being a perfect watch for me. It isn't the only watch I'd want to own, but as a dress-style watch - there is little else I could ask for when blending design, materials, artistic technique, and utility into a single timepiece. As a limited edition released for 2017, this is the Chopard L.U.C reference 161242-1001. Let's take a close look at what it is all about and why I like it.
Chopard's L.U.C collection of watches comes out of their higher-end facility in Switzerland. Not that "core" Chopard watches aren't high-end or really nice, but L.U.C products up the ante in terms of the movement quality as well as the inclusion of (occasional) hand-applied artistic techniques to the movement, dial, or case. In many ways, L.U.C are the most traditional in style timepieces that Chopard makes, and are exactly what many timepiece enthusiasts are looking for.
When it comes to important factors such as movement finishing and decoration (not to mention mechanical design), L.U.C can regularly compete with best the industry has to offer from brands such as Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Breguet, and Vacheron Constantin. L.U.C watches nevertheless tend to be a bit better priced, have more original designs, and feel a bit less as though they were designed by a committee (this latter statement is a bit of a generalization - but it does feel as though many Chopard L.U.C watches have distinct and individual personalities).
The Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer is a limited edition watch that builds on an existing L.U.C XPS model by adding some artistic embellishments. These embellishments don't really add utility value, but rather the type of emotional value that helps convince otherwise practical people like me and you to buy luxury timepieces in the first place.
According to Chopard, this reference 161242-1001 watch celebrates when "distinction meets discretion," and is the type of product that "harbours a wealth of secrets and symbols." So what exactly is there to discover in the Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer watch? For one, it is an homage to one of the first Chopard L.U.C watches from 1996, which was known as the L.U.C 1860.
Let's begin with the basics. The watch case is 40mm wide, 7.7mm thick, and water resistant to 30m. The case is produced in 18k white gold, and has a hunter-style case back. This is rather uncommon for a Chopard watch, and is one of the distinguishing factors of the watch (at least for the brand). The case back on the outside is decorated with hand-operated machine guilloche engraving, and the inside of the case back is further decorated with hand-engraved text and imagery. More on that shortly.
Hunter-style case backs are sometimes called "officer-style" ones - hence that part of the product's name. The motif on the inside of the cover is supposed to be Chopard's "historic" (from the 1990s) logo, along with a beehive. This latter part might be quizzical to many people, until you realize that in Fleurier where Chopard is, it isn't uncommon to have honey-making bees around. More so, according to Chopard, in the early days of the brand's thematic founder Louis-Ulysse Chopard (where "L.U.C" comes from) the movements were "all engraved, both on their movements and inside their cover, with a beehive surrounded by bees." I believe Chopard may have sent me Chopard-branded honey before. I know for a fact that I received very delicious honey from Jaeger-LeCoultre (from the beehives which operate right across the street from the manufacture).
I find the hand-engraving charming, and I also find that it adds immensely to the personality of the product. More importantly, it is a touch of hand-applied work done by someone talented and with special training. This type of attention is exactly what we dream our high-end luxury watches have, and this engraving is proof that this watch has at least some of that. Though, as you will learn, the watch has even more hand-applied artistic effort.
The Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer dial and case back have similar engraving patterns which are also hand-applied, but rather than being engraved, are produced from a guilloche machine (rose engine). This requires a trained operator and it certainly isn't easy to get a design like this. Masculine and even a bit modern, the machined guilloche engravings on the case back and dial are referred to as (unsurprisingly) a "honeycomb" motif (I wonder what that is meant to go with... this is one sweet watch...). I happen to think that this particular style of "honeycomb" motif is cool looking and very fitting for a high-end timepiece like this.
In addition to the hand and specialized hand-operated machine decoration on the case and dial, you also have decoration on the movement. While all L.U.C movements are hand-decorated, not all are decorated to the degree required by the Seal of Geneva. Accordingly, the Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer watch is among the rare (but not only) Chopard watches that have the "Poincon de Geneve." If you are not familiar with what getting that seal entails, then click on that link to learn more. It is a complicated requirement, but in short involves a few key areas of effort. First the movement must be made in the Canton of Geneva (origin), then it must perform according to a particular set of standards (durability and accuracy), and last it must have a range of specific decorative applications given to it.
The movement which has been awarded the Seal of Geneva is the in-house made Chopard L.U.C caliber 96.01-L. This micro-rotor based automatic movement offers the time with subsidiary seconds dial and date. My only complaint about the watch is that the date window on the dial seems a bit unfinished (like a gaping hole), and might have looked a bit better with a handsome little frame around it. The movement uses a 22k gold rotor, and dual mainspring barrels for 65 hours of power reserve. The movement also operates at 4Hz (28,800 bph). Oh, and in addition to the Seal of Geneva, the 96.01-L movement is also a COSC certified Chronometer.
Chopard is a fan of stuffing certain limited edition watches with a list of appealing things which makes the pieces feel that much more "high-end Swiss watch." The majority of these things don't really add functional value, but do add a lot of value to the watch as a prestige item. Each of these particular traits (Geneva Seal, hand-engraving, gold case, etc...) together make for an emotionally charged product that also happens to be comfortable and beautiful.
The Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer is meant for daily wear, but is produced to be treasured. It also doesn't cost the price of a house, but rather of a family sedan (which feels a lot more fair). On the dial you have a distinctive Chopard L.U.C style, with legibility and a handsome, masculine sense of purpose and poise. The all silver-tone colors also make the watch very versatile from a fashion perspective. This is just a beautiful watch, that has "Swiss timepiece luxury" [metaphorically] written all over it, and is priced fairly. The Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer reference 161242-1001 is a limited edition of 100 pieces (though oddly it says 250 pieces on the case back of this piece - so I'll leave it to Chopard to decide how many they are going to make) in 18k white gold, and has a retail price of $31,710 USD. chopard.com