Review: Chopard L.U.C Triple Certification Tourbillon

We get personal with an overachieving watch, the first in the world to have earned the COSC, Poinçon de Genève and Fleurier Quality Foundation certificates

Tourbillons in wristwatches were once an oddity but today, some brands make it their purpose to innovate and create such complications. To be sure, the pure timekeeping value of the contemporary tourbillon in the contemporary wristwatch remains uncertain; however, the same could be said for all contemporary mechanical luxury watches. “You could say that the mechanical watch is a survivor, or a relic of the past that is out of place in our electronic age,” says Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele.

Nevertheless, what is certain is that these mechanisms – from the simplest to the most complicated – remain of value to collectors and connoisseurs alike.

We prefer to look at a watch like the Chopard L.U.C Triple Certification Tourbillon as a masterpiece of human fastidiousness, creativity and beauty. On the creative side of things, to begin on a slightly whimsical note, the watch is the first in the world to bear three certifications of excellence from Switzerland: COSC, Poinçon de Genève and Fleurier Quality Foundation. Why should this matter you may wonder and why does Chopard think it such a coup that they’ve put notices on the certification on the dial?

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Interestingly, this is a rare example of the mark of the Poinçon de Genève appearing on the dial. It usually only appears on the movement and, recently, on the case. Note also the rhodiumed black dauphine hands and matching Roman numerals

Telltale Dial

Let us begin then with a look at that dial and the telltale words on it. At the same time, do note the unusual and quite lovely grained silver finish here. Even from a distance, the dial on the Triple Certification, or 3C Tourbillon as it known, makes an impression, like the skin of some magnificent beast with silver for its hide. Upon this hide are stamped quite a number of words including L.U. Chopard, Qualite Fleurier, Chronometer and the symbol of the Hallmark of Geneva. Do note that we have to get through a lot of exposition on the three certificates and what they mean. If you want to know more about the details of the watch and how it wears, please read the captions.

Moving on, only watches with a COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) certificate can legally put the word ‘Chronometer’ on the dial. As you may well know, a chronometer is a watch with exceptional timekeeping properties whose movement has been tested extensively and verified by an independent Swiss regulatory body. Although this is arguably the most commonplace of the Triple Certification’s accolades it is worth noting that less than 3 percent of Swiss watches are issued COSC certificates. 

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Here we can see the meticulous polishing and bevelling that has gone into the tourbillon bridge. Both the design of the bridge and the tourbillon carriage are particular to Chopard L.U.C models

 

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You can just make out the fine silver grain of the dial here. Note also the pronounced curve of the lugs, which helps make the 43mm size more manageable

While the COSC certificate deals with timekeeping accuracy and reliability, the Poinçon de Genève, or Hallmark of Geneva, mainly deals with the finishing standards of mechanical movements. It is only issued to watchmakers who do the majority of their work in Geneva. There are 12 criteria regulating everything from making individual components and the finishing of the same to the assembly of the movement and the quality of the workmanship itself.

Some of you might recall that this certificate underwent major changes, which was announced at the SIHH in 2012, but since this watch was completed officially last year and is in stores now, is not affected. So, this is in fact the old Hallmark of Geneva seal that has been awarded for the Triple Certification but no matter because the Fleurier Quality Foundation certificate bridges any gaps.

Extreme Quality Control

Perhaps the most difficult to achieve, the Fleurier Quality Foundation (FQF) certificate is not at all common. It is the youngest of the three certificates here (established in 2001) yet it is also the most stringent. In fact, to even qualify for consideration for the FQF, watches must have already earned the COSC certificate. 

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Vertical satin brushing marks the case middle and sides of the lugs while the bezel and front of the lugs are polished. Since it makes its own cases and works its own gold alloys, Chopard is able to add a wealth of details even here

To put it simply, the FQF is concerned primarily with precision and can be likened to the quality checks done for high end cars. For example, the Triple Certification Tourbillon was subjected to Chronofiable testing and went the distance on the Fleuritest machine. Chronofiable testing subjects the watch to the forces of time itself, simulating six months worth of wear and tear in 21 days, while pushing the watch to the limits of its resistance to magnetic fields and humidity.

The Fleuritest session is even more dramatic, with the watch subjected to 24 hours of real-world stress – extreme movements in say a tennis match for example. During and after the ordeal, the watch’s performance is carefully assessed; timekeeping accuracy must remain within the range of 0 to +5 seconds per day.

So, it is clear that all three tests have virtues but still the question remains: why put one watch to all three tests. To begin with, Chopard subjects watches from its manufacture to all three tests at the present moment. This is especially true of the L.U.C collection. Typically, a watch is chronometer-certified by COSC and is perhaps sent for evaluation by the FQF or the Poinçon de Genève. In creating the Triple Certification Tourbillon, Chopard is making a statement about the usefulness of all three tests and of course demonstrating its unique ability to excel at all three. 

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Aside from the prominent Geneva stripes, note also the shape of the bridges and look out for the angles. As usual, this is a sign of proper hand-finishing

 

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The polish on the bevelled edges of the bridges can be made out here. Note also the elegantly countersunk screws and chatons. Note also the polished caseback and back of the lugs contrasting with that vertical satin brushing of the case middle and lugs

Some years ago, we made the point about over-engineering in mechanical watches – precision machining, fundamental research and extreme testing – and the Triple Certification Tourbillon is obviously an example of this. Instead of merely one independent body telling you that the watch on your wrist is superlative here you have three. Although the FQF makes COSC a requirement, thus making those two tests complementary, there is overlap between the FQF and the Poinçon de Genève. Nevertheless, Chopard hopes this watch shows that each one of the certificates has its own role to play, with enough space onstage for all three.

Built Tough But With Finesse

Finally, with regards to all three certificates, we return to the most prominent feature on the dial, the one-minute tourbillon. Given the hard knocks approach of both COSC and FQF, the sensitive tourbillon mechanism is not the best choice unless it is a very solidly built, perhaps like a Porsche 911. While both COSC and FQF speak to the quality of the construction here, the Poinçon de Genève tells us what we need to know about the finesse of the craftsmanship. As Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele tells us, this might be the most accurate tourbillon ever tested. It might also be among the sturdiest and it is certainly the most heavily certified!

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The fine work on the Geneva striping is clearer here, along with perlage peeking out from the mainplate. The watch we examined is an actual finished piece, number 38 out of 100

It is a fact though that Chopard’s Triple Crown here is divisive, with some commentators clearly expressing misgivings about the matter. Our friend and noted watch writer SJX is amongst these, although he too acknowledges the exceptional finishing of the movement. You can read his thoughts and take a gander at his pictures here.  

On the other hand, there is a certain crazy sense of joy that this level of quality assurance is being offered. “Luxury is always linked to quality, especially when it comes to products. In this sense, is it really a luxury? I mean quality of course. If you don’t choose quality then you are choosing the opposite…” says Scheufele.

Before we leave off, we must make a note of the very special finishing touches for the Triple Certification. Just take a look at the pictures and pay attention to the visible plates and bridges, especially the edges. 

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Though it cannot be seen in any of the pictures, the Triple Certification watch has a system of four barrels (two sets of two stacked barrels) giving it its 9 days of power reserve. Unique to Chopard, this system is called L.U.C Quattro

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Diameter: 43 mm
  • Case: Red gold
  • Crown: Fluted
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds seconds (6 o’clock); power reserve at 12 o’clock
  • Case back: Sapphire crystal
  • Water resistance: 50 meters
  • Strap: Hand-stitched alligator (black or brown) with 18-carat gold buckle
  • Movement: Chopard L.U.C manufacture calibre L.U.C 02.13-L (L.U.C 1.02QF), mechanical with manual winding; One-minute tourbillon; Diameter: 29.7 mm;  Thickness: 6.10 mm; Number of jewels: 33; Variner balance wheel
  • Power reserve: approx. 216 hours

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