By Harlan Chapman-Green
Chopard is known for doing style and fashion work really really well. Basically, if you want something with diamonds that’s flash you can ignore Cartier and Tiffany’s and come straight to Chopard. The Happy range of jewellery and watches is sure to delight, or the more industrial and sporty of us might favour a Mille Miglia or Superfast watch. Those of use that enjoy the finer things in life, whether they be a fine French wine, a Cuban cigar or even just a sit on the decking watching the sun go down will definitely like the L.U.Chopard range. But what about those that are a little bit, how should I say it, left field? Those of us who like to think different, the ones who would drive old Citroëns and play the guitar and possibly smoke an illegal substance or two. Well, now Chopard has thought of you guys as well with the new L.U.Chopard XP.
It’s a simple two-handed steel dress watch. The colours are impressive and fit very well with this, with blue hands and numerals, as well as quarter hour markers and the minute track squeezed in next to the bezel. Because only 3, 6, 9 and 12 are written on the dial in blue, the watch isn’t too overbearing. In-between those numerals are dauphine style hour markers with a silvered finish, a subtle contrast to the blued dauphine hands and numbers but one that adds to the overall style. The dial itself has a Dacron style finish to it, with the Chopard headquarters in Geneva being just down the road from the DuPont (the trademark owners of Dacron) building one must wonder whether some collaboration went on there. Either way, material effect dials that aren’t something ridiculous like leather or oak or some such are really interesting to see. It’s good to have the material effect without necessarily having to worry about the material on the dial ageing.
If you’re into your weird material combinations then the strap is one to add in too. First off, it’s blue, which is somewhat refreshing in the world of black and brown being the norm. The top half of the strap is also made of cashmere, a very fine material that is particularly known around the Pakistani-Indian, known as the ‘Kashmir Region’. This wool is finer than normal sheep’s wool, as well as stronger, lighter thrice as insulating as regular wool too. The underside of the strap on the XP is alligator leather, a strange choice given that it’s usually calfskin leather. Chopard argues that the use of alligator leather makes the strap more durable when the wearer’s wrist is quite ‘warm’ aka moist.
Inside the watch is a movement easily recognisable as an L.U.C movement, simply because it makes use of a micro-rotor. A micro-rotor made of tungsten no less, a hard material to source and work with due to its hardness. Connected to the rotor is Chopard’s ‘Twin’ technology, that is to say, this watch makes use of two barrels to hold the power in meaning a smoother delivery across the power band. This means the watch has a runtime of 58 hours, impressive for a slim 40mm dress piece. Mind you without a seconds hand you’d need to keep track of its winding schedule to be absolutely sure you haven’t let it stop.
The watch is not only reasonable in diameter, it’s also petite on the thickness scale at 7.2mm in the case, making it a slightly more relaxed dress watch. Relaxed isn’t a bad thing, this watch would bring an aura of calm and wellbeing into an otherwise slightly overbearing boardroom full of stuffy suits dressed in black with black straps on their dress watches. On a black suit, it would look different, but I feel it would portray a good image overall. On the wrist the watch is quite light, but you’d be hard pressed to forget it’s there. The leather inside the strap is comfy and thanks to that sleek case it hugs the wrist well.
At 40mm, this watch sadly falls in that category for me where I just can’t be happy with it. I can do smaller watches fine such as 36mm or 38mm, or larger watches at 42mm to 46mm with reasonable thickness. It’s a shame that this watch doesn’t completely sing out to me, it’s a cool alternative watch to the bog-standard offerings from Rolex and other companies. If you’re after something you’re unlikely to see in the wilderness that still has Haute Horlogerie claims then it could be a good addition to your personal collection. Did I mention the cashmere strap? For more info, please visit chopard.com