Here is a nice update from Chopard. Re-established back in 1963 by a goldsmith Karl Scheufele III, the company rose to its former glory like a ballistic rocket. A pair of limited-edition Chopard L.U.C 1963 50th Anniversary Chronometers (refs. 161963-5001 and 161963-9001) marks the semi-centenary of the luxury brand.
While there is a great number of customers that love Chopard for their sporty chronographs, it is the gorgeous L.U.C. collection that allows the brand to show off its watchmaking prowess.
While the porcelain white dial of the timekeeper is deliciously classic with its traditional railway-style minute track, black Roman numerals, and attractively sculpted Dauphine-type hour and minute track, the timekeeper’s main point of attraction can only be observed when the owner finally takes the watch off his wrist. Yes, I am talking about the Caliber 63.01-L movement that powers the watch.
Protected from dust and moisture with a sapphire crystal, the hand-wound mechanism dates back to classic chronometers from the 1960s. The mechanism features fine decor and sorts an unusual two-tone layout with parts of the piece presumably rhodium-plated and others looking suspiciously similar to gold.
As usual for a luxury watch of this pedigree, the mechanism is decorated by hands of highly-skilled workers and features all the usual stuff like Geneva stripes, chamfered edges, and mirror-polished screw-heads.
Most modern movements were designed to be as compact as possible in order to be used with a wider range of watches starting with small timepieces for ladies and going all the way up to massive sporty chronographs for men. This one, however, looks almost like those archaic monsters that powered pocket watches from the 1920s.
Even despite the ultra-slim rear bezel and fairly large size of the body, the movement fully fills the interior volume of the case, which is great: nothing looks more stupid and laughable than a small automatic caliber powering a 48-millimeter pilot’s watch.
Well, being primarily a dress watch, this timekeeper is not as large as a “historic” pilot’s timekeeper, but it still takes a lot of space on your wrist. According to the official specification that came with the press release, the L.U.C 1963 50th Anniversary Chronometer measures 44 millimeters in diameter. Although the device’s width is partially compensated with relatively short lugs, it may still be a problem if you happen to have a relatively thin wrist.
On the other hand, when it comes to a timepiece built around a caliber that was inspired by vintage engines that powered pocket watches manufactured back in the early XX century, the XL size soft of comes with the territory: it is just got to be a bit oversized.
Another thing that disappointed me a little, is the total lack of lume on the rose gold hour and minute hands. While a thin strip of Superluminova wouldn’t ruin the model’s gorgeous dial, it would also make it more usable in darker places.
It is reported that the watch will be issued in two versions each limited to just 50 numbered pieces. One of them (ref. 161963-5001) will be delivered in a honey-colored 18-karat gold body, and the other (ref. 161963-9001) will feature a much more expensive (although more modest-looking) platinum body.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Chopard L.U.C 1963 50th Anniversary Chronometer (refs. 161963-5001 and 161963-9001) specification
Price: $37,600 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-wound, Caliber 63.01-L, in-house, adjusted to five positions, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 20
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 60 hours
Movement decoration: Two-tone, polished screws, Cotes de Geneve, chamfering, circular graining
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Case: 18-karat rose gold (Ref. 161963-5001) / platinum (Ref. 161963-9001)
Size: 44.00 mm
Dial: Porcelain white
Hour markers: Black
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Hand-made brown alligator leather strap with a pin buckle in either rose gold or platinum
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective