Chopard’s “brand within the brand” celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with a trilogy of chiming fake watches showcasing the experience gained over a quarter of a century. This long-term and remarkably consistent effort is the product of the quiet determination of one man: Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. He gave us some clues about the future of the adventure L.U.C.
Is the appreciation of sound and melody universal? “I think. As in classical music, there are certain schools, but talented artists are universally recognized. On our modest scale, it is the same principle that we strive for with our minute repeaters”, replies Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, president of Chopard, with his usual humility, while presenting a trilogy of chiming fake watches from the brand’s manufacture in Fleurier, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the L.U.C.
An avid collector of vintage fake watches and clocks, as well as a music lover, he certainly has a well-trained ear. Chopard’s mastery of chiming watches is the result of continuous research since the launch of the first Full Strike minute repeater in 2016, the product of some 17,000 hours of R&D and four patents.
The L.U.C Strike One chimes with the passing of every hour, in a Chopard patented sapphire monobloc. Equipped with the new L.U.C 96.32-L movement, this refined 40mm diameter watch in ethical 18K rose gold is chronometer certified and bears the Poinçon de Genève seal of quality. Its solid ruthenium gray gold dial is hand-guillochéd with a honeycomb pattern.
Academic partnerships, first with the University of Lyon and now with the Geneva engineering school HEPIA, have led to increasingly successful results. “With them, we have developed a way to objectively measure improvements in sound quality. A comparison with the original model leaves no doubt that we have made considerable progress,” says Karl-Friedrich Scheufele.
A trio of increasing complexity
In order of introduction, here are the L.U.C Strike One, the L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon, and the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire. This trio of new complication best replica watches uses Chopard’s signature monobloc sapphire crystal and gong system.
The L.U.C Strike One is a limited series of 25 pieces in ethical rose gold with a gold guilloché dial. The L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire, a limited edition of five pieces, adds a case made entirely of transparent sapphire to the striking components already cut from this high-tech material. Finally, the L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon, a limited series of 20 pieces, incorporates a tourbillon within the limited space of a minute repeater caliber. A rose gold case frames a guilloché gold dial.
Chopard’s R&D resulted in the use of sapphire gongs that were separate from the movement and formed an integral part of the crystal that crowned the dial.
To understand the genesis of these complications, let us remember what was special about the caliber L.U.C 08.01-L that equipped the 2016 model. While at the other minute repeaters, the sound of the hammer striking the metal gongs is part of the movement Chopard’s research led to the use of sapphire gongs separate from the movement and forming an integral part of the dial crystal.
With the exception of the gongs of the chronometer-certified movement L.U.C 08.01-L, Chopard engraved the entire case, crown and dial of the new L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire from sapphire blocks.
With a diameter of 42.5 mm and completely transparent, it offers a 360-degree view of a movement with exceptional finishes. It bears the Poinçon de Genève seal of quality, a first for a non-metallic watch.
So, as the brand explains, “Chopard uses a solid sapphire to machine the gong and the crystal into one piece – without interruptions, glues or welding. The sound from the hammer and gong passes through the watch’s largest surface – the crystal, Passing outwards, the crystal is also a homogeneous medium, ensuring ideal actuation. Furthermore, the sound is literally crystal clear as it emanates from pure corundum crystal, the scientific name for sapphire.”
Diseñado “como los instrumentos musicales”
En 2017, el L.U.C Full Strike recibió la Aiguille d’Or en el Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. Incluso después de este notable logro, Chopard siguió adelante con su investigación sobre los relojes con sonería.
Estas complicaciones representan el pináculo de la pericia relojera: una sutil combinación de técnica, artesanía y emoción. Pero su mecánica compleja es solo el primer desafío. El segundo tema, más intangible y aún más complejo, reside en la calidad del sonido. Con el fin de optimizar la riqueza acústica del sistema de gong/cristal de zafiro de una sola pieza del Full Strike, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele fue pionero en un nuevo enfoque. El resultado es la trilogía de 2022.
It was the watchmaker’s meeting with violinist Renaud Capuçon and his cellist brother Gautier Capuçon that set him off in a new direction. The first plays a vintage violin by Guarneri, dating from 1737, the second a cello by Matteo Goffriller, an equally renowned luthier in his field. Both are specialists in acoustics and sound. The idea behind the new version of a minute repeater watch was to “think of it like a musical instrument”.
In 2018, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele invited the Capuçon brothers to help him design a new limited series of chiming best fake watches. With the help and complicity of Chopard Manufacture engineers, they used their artistic sensibility to fine-tune the sound produced by Chopard’s patented gong/sapphire crystal technology.
Validation of the method at the Laboratory of Applied Acoustics, HEPIA, Institute of Engineering, Geneva. There, Professor Romain Boulandet created an analytical program that went beyond the purely measurable criteria of acoustics (sound intensity, tonal richness, damping factor) to incorporate another dimension: that of sound as perceived by the listener. The sound produced is purer, longer and more harmonious than that of a traditional metal repeater mechanism.
Steel, brass and gold are living and changing materials, even if they change slowly. Sapphire gongs, on the other hand, are totally inert.
Above all, the new approach provides a vital means of maintaining consistent sound quality over time. While steel, brass and gold are living and changing materials
(even if the changes occur very slowly), sapphire gongs are completely inert. They do not warp or show wear, and do not expand with heat. They always play the same F and C sharp, which ensures that the sound itself remains completely constant.
In addition, the material from which the Full Strike cases are made,
although it plays a secondary role compared to the sapphire crystal of the watch, adds its own “color” to the sound. After issuing various limited editions in pink and white gold, platinum and even steel, the L.U.C. The chiming clocks aim to achieve “a true state of permanence, exempting them from any adjustment”.
Towards the last Grail
“The minute repeaters already represent a horological pinnacle, after the elaboration of the sound mechanism. But I will not betray any secrets if I tell you that we have not yet reached the end of the road”,
confesses Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. Reading between the lines,
this is a fancy way of hinting at a future “Grande Sonnerie” mechanism that would really cement the L.U.C’s patient rise to prominence at Chopard.
At Fleurier, the dedicated teams of L.U.C share their workshops with the craftsmen of Ferdinand Berthoud. The name was rescued by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele a few years ago
for an ultra-limited annual production of (very) Haute Horlogerie,
inspired by the prowess of the marine chronometer pioneer.
Although his operations and brand concepts differ,
it is easy to imagine that Ferdinand Berthoud’s new company fuels accordingly
the thirst for technical innovation at L.U.C in his own way,
and that the exchange of knowledge proves fruitful.
This sincere passion has been recognized by a new wave of collectors that
has appeared during the last two years, marked by the pandemic. Successive closures have proven instrumental in spreading the fascination of watchmaking culture. The Ferdinand Berthoud stock sold out in record time, as did L.U.C.’s most sought-after watches.
“The craze for fine mechanical fake watches seems to be much stronger than before,” says Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. “Certain editions, like last year’s L.U.C Qualité Fleurier Jubilee,
limited to just 25 pieces, were immediately snapped up by young collectors. This new generation is very interested in what we have to offer.”
After integration comes transmission.
For all this, the president of Chopard fake does not want to focus exclusively on the most luxurious production, as is the general trend in the Swiss watch industry. “Speaking of new collectors, it is important that the younger generation also
has access to haute horlogerie at a more affordable price,
which is why we continue to offer fake watches in very different price segments.”
It must be said that the concept of passing things on to the next
generation is a pervasive theme for Karl-Friedrich Scheufele,
whose son Karl-Fritz is increasingly involved in Chopard’s activities. But it is also about the preservation of know-how.
He adds, “We’ve reached a certain stage in terms of bringing activities in-house,
but the main challenge now is passing down rare abilities from one generation to the next. That is why we are part of the Time Aeon project, a new approach that involves bringing together
an entire team around the handcrafted production of a mechanical reference model. It is about safeguarding a know-how that, fortunately, is increasingly valued by the public”.