The Chopard L.U.C. Louis-Ulysse The Tribute is two watches in one. Designed to be worn as a pocket watch OR a wrist watch, the Louis-Ulysse is a 50mm 18-karat white gold tribute to Chopard’s founding father. And as one of only 150 units produced for the 2010 limited edition, it’s an anniversary gift to be enjoyed by a fortunate few collectors.
Convertible – or pocket/wrist luxury watches – are almost unheard of in the modern era. All examples of the type are exceptional pieces such as the Glashutte Original Julius Assman series (100 total in 20 years) or the Bovet Fleurier Amadeo models (available only by special order). The Chopard L.U.C. Louis-Ulysse The Tribute belongs to a class of luxury watch that makes Paul Newman Rolex Daytona’s look commonplace by comparison.
Each Chopard L.U.C. Louis-Ulysse The Tribute features a unique white gold cradle with attached alligator leather strap and matching gold pin-buckle. When a trigger and dial on the reverse side of the cradle are activated, the system can open or close to release or secure the pocket watch portion of the Tribute. The system is based on a pocket watch conversion device patented by modern-era Chopard patriarch Karl Scheufele in the early 1900s (his descendants have run Chopard since the early 1960s).
When not secure on its strap, the Chopard L.U.C. Louis-Ulysse The Tribute can be worn as a pocket watch on an included white gold chain.
The dial of the Chopard L.U.C. Louis-Ulysse The Tribute is composed of a kiln-fired ceramic base coated with lustrous white lacquer. This treatment creates the optical depth and gleam of classical pocket watch enamel dials. High-gloss black Roman numerals are consistent with the practice of the Chopard L.U.C. model line, and flourishes of red add a playful character to the composition.
Around the periphery of the dial, a vintage style “railroad” or “sector” chapter ring comprises the minute track. A seconds sub-dial at six o’clock features a miniature railroad seconds track for aesthetic continuity. At center, Chopard’s signature “fusion” hands have been crafted from black-oxidized gold to offer outstanding contrast with the white dial base. The unique form of these hands was inspired by the caliper tools employed by architects and engineers.
Chopard’s L.U.C. line represents its flagship model line and showcase for the manufacture’s finest savoir-faire. Naturally, the Tribute hails from this distinguished Chopard tradition, but it boasts a second bloodline with even greater gravitas: the Watchmaking School of Geneva (EHG). Premier students from the school’s advanced programs were offered the opportunity to collaborate on the design of the Chopard L.U.C. Louis-Ulysse The Tribute’s caliber EHG.
Chopard and EHG created a monster motor for The Tribute. At over 43mm in diameter, the movement itself is almost the size of a Panerai Luminor, but the spectacle of the scale pales in comparison to the spectacle of the finish. The Poincon de Geneve (Geneva Seal) sits resplendent on Chopard and EHG’s masterpiece.
Every surface is crafted from rich golden-hued nickel-copper like that of a vintage pocket watch. The edges of each bridge are polished by hand to a mirror’s shine; black polish, the highest optical standard in the high horology sector, is evident in abundance. Chopard completes the masterpieces with linear cotes de Geneve that feature exquisite intermediate texture between the crests of the Geneva “waves.” On the baseplate, the metallic eddies of tight machine-turned perlage graces the golden surface.
Technically, Chopard pulls no punches with the caliber EHG. Its 80-hour power reserve is a tactile pleasure to wind by hand. Chopard employs a large balance with a stately 21,600 VpH beat rate in classical pocket watch fashion, and the oscillator is governed by a secured swan’s neck regulator (with black polish, naturally). Twenty pivot jewels enable efficient operation that surpasses virtually all of the EHG’s vintage fore bearers; COSC Swiss Chronometer certification has been awarded to each example of the Chopard L.U.C. Louis-Ulysse The Tribute.
The Chopard L.U.C. Louis-Ulysse The Tribute is more than a watch; it’s a love letter to the history and heritage of Swiss high horology. See it in high-resolution images on www.watchuwant.com.
Video and content by Tim Mosso