It wasn’t that long ago that we covered the previous version of this watch. Back in December of last year, you may remember we showed you a similar looking timepiece, I can confirm that these two pieces are related, they are Chopard’s tribute to the Chinese Zodiac calendar. This novelty has been done many times by different companies such as Vacheron Constantin with their Metiers d’Art collection and Blancpain with their Villeret Chinese Traditional Calendar collection. Chopard has quietly been working on Zodiac-themed watches since 2010, and the latest addition is this light dial wonder.
Based on the already complicated L.U.C Perpetual T movement, which features a tourbillon, perpetual calendar and 9-day power reserve thanks to Chopard’s Quattro barrel system, the one-off piece for 2019’s year of the pig takes the sophistication a step further. The main draw to the eye will be the dial, which has a beautiful pattern etched into it that I suppose is reminiscent of flooring in traditional Chinese dwellings. However, the real draw of the eye should actually be the hand engraved case.
Yes, that’s right, the case is engraved entirely by hand, and if my memory serves me correctly, there is only one person in the entire factory in Fleurier who can engrave this type of work. I recall that there were different staff there who all had their own speciality, being able to utilise these particular skills puts Chopard a step ahead of the competition. In this type of engraving, called champlevé, the sides of the case are cut away so that the remaining metal takes the shape, instead of grooves being cut into the metal, this naturally requires a lot more work, 210 hours to be precise. The bezel is engraved with a pretty Asian inspired design. Meanwhile, the caseband and between the lugs have been engraved with the animals of the Zodiac in their chronological order with the year of the tiger represented by an engraving on the crown. Champlevé, naturally.
Inside the case is the calibre 02.15L which is 33mm in diameter and made of 353 components. As I mentioned above, this watch features a perpetual calendar with a big date just under the Chopard logo at 12 O’clock, and the tourbillon with a seconds hand is exposed at 6. Powering the tourbillon and perpetual calendar are 4 barrels which extend the power reserve to 9 days. This movement has been awarded COSC chronometer status and the Geneva Seal, though the caseback is quite conservative with a small power reserve indicator and Geneva waves. L.U.Chopard likes to tease us with tantalisingly complicated movements that it then hides, I hope there’s a full-on skeleton piece one day.
The last part worth mentioning is the 43mm case itself, or rather, the gold it’s made of. Back at Baselworld this year, Chopard announced that all of its watches and jewellery would be made with Fairmined gold by July, which is a target it achieved as far as we are aware, making it currently the only company in the industry where all of its gold is mined ethically with money going to every person involved. This has to be the future of the luxury watch scene. Visit Chopard here.