Sporting a blue-toned sapphire crystal case, Chopard presents a five-piece limited-edition set of its L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire minute repeater watch collection. If you like chiming mechanical minute repeater watches, then the quality and volume of the musical notes played by Chopard’s L.U.C 08.01-L movement will more than impress you. Loud and clear, Chopard’s particular movement architecture and use of sapphire crystal gongs allow this well-engineered mechanism to produce some of the finest chimes on the market. And on top of everything this watch is and does, Chopard even makes a version with a tourbillon — but I don’t think that model has made it to enjoying a blue sapphire crystal case like this Chopard reference 168604-9001 version of the L.U.C Full Strike.

Two previous articles on aBlogtoWatch do excellent justice to explaining both the manually wound minute repeater movement (along with its innovations and inventions). In 2016, we gave a very detailed breakdown of the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike’s movement and why this minute repeater isn’t like others on the market. In 2022, we went hands-on with the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire and explained some of the additional challenges that went into the sapphire crystal dial and case that resulted in the price of the watch nearly doubling. Adding colored sapphire crystal for the case and crown ups the ante, mainly because the mostly chromium-based mixture of compounds added to the synthetic sapphire growth compound to make it blue doesn’t always evenly color the material. In addition to the already high failure rate of machining sapphire crystal parts, the assemblers of these watches also needed to discard parts that did not color-match or that were not evenly colored throughout. That said, blue sapphire crystal as a case material is very slick and will maintain that color and shine always. Just don’t drop it.

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With the L.U.C Full Strike, Chopard wanted to make one of the most practical and best-performing minute repeater movements on the market. Other than automatic winding (which can be impractical for minute repeaters given the torque needed to wind them), this movement is a powerhouse of modern features and convenience. I cannot beat our previous discussions on the L.U.C 08.01-L movement (click the links above), but I want to highlight a few points while reminding you how it works. Chopard wanted the movement to feature 1) an excellent-sounding chiming system, 2) safety mechanisms that prevent damage to the movement from accidental misuse that can occur in many other minute repeaters, 3) systems in place to ensure the chronometric performance of the time-telling system, including not draining power from it and engineering it to be a COSC-certified chronometer. The movement is also adorned with the Côtes de Genève emblem, which is another assurance of quality, aesthetics, and mechanical performance.

Before the L.U.C Full Strike had a sapphire case, it had a sapphire crystal gong system. Replacing metal gongs with sapphire crystal makes a lot of sense because it allows for louder sounds on account of sapphire’s density compared to metal. Chopard spent a number of years studying even how to machine such a part. If you take a Chopard L.U.C. Full Strike and activate the minute repeater next to that of competitor minute repeaters, it will become immediately obvious the performance advantages Chopard was able to achieve through this system. The minute repeater also uses a crown-based push-button activator switch as opposed to the archaic and inefficient sliding-lever design.

You’ll notice on the dial that the movement features two power reserve indicator hands. This is because the minute repeater has its own mainspring. You wind one mainspring by turning the crown clockwise and the other by turning it counter-clockwise. The dial also has hour and minute hands along with a subsidiary seconds hand. I was told that the subsidiary seconds dial on this prototype is a bit different looking than the probably more transparent dial of the final version of this watch. On that, the patent leather alligator strap might be swapped with a more matte strap for the retail versions of this timepiece.

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It is impressive that all the 533 parts of the caliber L.U.C 08.01-L movement fit into the 42.5mm-wide case. That isn’t exactly small, but you can easily wear the L.U.C Full Strike daily, if need be. The case is also 11.55mm thick, and Chopard doesn’t mention the water resistance of the Full Strike Sapphire. The dial is also quite legible, as there is a sapphire crystal ring over the open-worked movement that has (some) hour markers applied to it. Probably the best thing to do on the dial is watch the minute repeater hammers in action as you activate the chiming system. Chopard, of course, designed the movement with the hammers to be on the dial, versus the caseback, for a more enjoyable wearing and playing experience. You can also enjoy the copious levels of hand decoration on the front and rear side of the movement. That said, the rear of the L.U.C 08.01-L movement is “mostly business,” as it is a view of the mainplate the regulation system without much open work. The movement operates at 4Hz with 60 hours of power reserve and, again is accurate enough to be a chronometer.

Even though there is clearly an ostentatious element to wearing a timepiece like this, as a luxury item, it doesn’t suggest “showing off” as much as “love for impressive machines at any price.” The watch dial is beautiful because of the decoration and complexity but isn’t designed for symmetry or aesthetics in a way that a fashion house might propose for a watch like this. That affords Chopard a good amount of “nerd cred” in marketing this watch, despite the nearly half-million dollar price point. For those who clearly love the loudest and best-engineered minute repeaters around, there are few better options than the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire. Price for the five-piece Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire minute repeater in blue (Ref. 168604-9001) is USD 562,000. Learn more at the Chopard website.

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