The L.U.C XPS 1860 by Chopard is a slim dress watch in two versions, in rose gold and steel. Their basic design is very similar, with differences in dial finish and movement. It celebrates the L.U.C 1860 launched 20 years ago, the first watch made by the Chopard Manufacture with an in-house movement, the result of Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s commitment to transforming Chopard into a vertically-integrated brand. The original 1996 L.U.C 1860 was 36.4 mm in diameter, while this year’s L.U.C XPS 1860 is 40 mm in diameter and pleasantly slim at 7.2 mm. It is a classic dress watch (purists would say that with the date window it can’t be called a dress watch), with short lugs so that it suits just about any wrist.
In a way, a dress watch is a greater design challenge than busier watches such as chronographs. Any imperfection is immediately visible. The arrangement of the small seconds subdial creates a crescent motif of guilloché that highlights the date window between two points, so that the date looks like an integral part of the design and not an obligatory addition. The minutes chapter ring has markers at the five-minute marks that are smaller, printed versions of the applied hour markers. These in turn reflect the faceted design of the hands. The three hands are perfectly aligned with the dial decoration. The guilloché dial texture radiates from the L.U. Chopard lettering below the 12. The result is a watch that you can wear for months and years with unchanging pleasure.
The case has differentiated finish, with a brushed caseband, continuous with the sides of the lugs. The watch is marked “L.U.C” twice on the dial and again on the crown, understandably. It is a reference to Louis-Ulysse Chopard who founded the company in 1860, and the initials used for the brand’s contemporary watches with manufacture movement and chronometer certification. The watch has a brown hand-sewn alligator strap with a rose gold pin buckle. Water resistance is the standard 3 bar, 30 metres.
The movement is the Calibre 96.01-L, the first movement designed and built by Chopard. It is slim at 3.3 mm. Its diameter of 27.4 mm was perfect for the original 36.4 mm case size of the 1996 watch; in this year’s version, the sapphire window on the caseback has a wider frame, providing more room for the lettering, with the limited edition number, the Geneva seal and so forth. As for all L.U.C watches with a seconds indication, it is chronometer-certified by COSC.
The Calibre 96.01-L has a micro-rotor in 22-carat gold, placed within the thickness of the bridges. This contributes to the movement’s minimal thickness and makes the caseback view more attractive. The watch has two mainsprings, one stacked on another, connected in series, providing a 65-hour power reserve. The balance runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz, and the movement has 29 jewels. The calibre in the gold version of the watch has the swan-neck for balance rate regulation. This is not present in the steel version and is the only substantial difference between the two calibres.
The 18-carat rose gold version of the Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 is reference 161946-5001. Price €19,950, 20,250 Swiss francs, US$20,250.
Steel version of the Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860
Chopard have endeavoured to make the steel version of this classic accessible to a wider sector of the market by eliminating a few details. The basic design of case and dial is identical, except that the guilloché of the gold watch is replaced by sunburst finish.
The movement has a different calibre code, L.U.C 96.03-L, and the only substantial difference is the absence of the swan-neck regulation. The swan-neck is simply a long arching loop that connects the regulator screw to the lever acting on the balance spring, making it simpler to adjust. A watchmaker can still adjust a movement without this feature. The L.U.C 96.03-L is chronometer-certified by COSC, just as for the movement in the gold version.
By omitting the swan-neck regulator and the Geneva seal certification, Chopard have reduced the price of the steel version, reference 168583-3001, to €8,289, 8,410 Swiss francs, US$ 8,410.