Signature quality

 Chopard is one brand which gives credit where credit is due. The LUC designation on some of its most complicated watches stands for Louis Ulysse Chopard, who founded the firm in 1860.

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, the present co-president, says his personal, "long-time favourite" is the 1997 LUC, because it was a milestone. Chopard Manufacture was founded in 1996 in Fleurier to develop proprietary movements for the brand, and the LUC marks the firm's arrival as a fully-rounded manufacturer. In the world of haute horlogerie, this is one of the biggest milestones of all.

To emphasise this point, Chopard showed several highly complicated LUC watches at BaselWorld 2013. In keeping with Chopard's preoccupation with cars, the LUC Engine One H chronometer references the engine block. The mainplate supporting the cage of the tourbillon movement is horizontal, thus the "H" in the watch's name.

LUC Perpetual T features a perpetual calendar and a tourbillon, powered by a manually-wound Chopard movement with four barrels for a 216-hour (nine-day) power reserve. The design of the perpetual calendar complication is usually challenged by readability, but Chopard has brought the date to the foreground in a large twin aperture. Days are seen at 9 o'clock and months at 3 o'clock, along with the leap year cycle.

Another LUC model - 8HF - made its debut at BaselWorld 2013. The watch, in a 42mm titanium case, houses the first high-frequency (8Hz) escapement passed by COSC, the official Swiss chronometer testing institute. Chopard was keen to make the point that this high-frequency escapement, seen at BaselWorld in the LUC 01.06-L movement, is compatible with most existing LUC movements. A higher frequency, while giving greater reliability, requires more energy, which is provided by a 60-hour power reserve. LUC 8HF is issued in a limited edition of 100 pieces.

Chopard also showed a limited series of the successful LUC XPS model, which bears the prestigious Geneva Seal, guaranteeing that the movement has received particularly high-quality finishing. Chopard is co-founder of the more stringent Qualite Fleurier seal, which guarantees a finely crafted movement and chronometer-worthy precision.

Possibly the most eagerly awaited of the large collection Chopard debuted at BaselWorld 2013 were the additions to the Classic Racing Series, inspired by the brand's association with Formula One. The new steel models are the Superfast Automatic, the Superfast Power Control and the Superfast Chronograph, all powered by same basic calibre - a self-winding movement from Chopard's Fleurier workshop.

"Twenty years from now, we want to be more vertically integrated, using more and more in-house movements," Scheufele says.

"In 10 years' time, we don't want to be producing as much as we are today, because we want to grow the quality of our service in our boutiques. That's our goal, because consumers are becoming more and more knowledgeable."

BaselWorld would not be complete with a salute to the genre. The Happy Sport watches have been delighting consumers for 20 years. Certainly, they have a huge fan base.

Now, in this jubilee year, there is the Happy Sport Medium Automatic, a mechanical watch with a guilloche silver dial and, as always, seven diamonds that freely move about the watch face. The sapphire crystal caseback allows the self-winding mechanical movement to be seen and admired.

Neither would a Chopard presence be complete without jewels, as Chopard is also one of the great jewellers of the world. Among its selection of gemset offerings was a new member of the Imperiale family, Imperiale Joaillerie Amethyste. The timepiece's artistry is evident in the shading of baguette amethysts and diamonds, along with brilliant-cut diamonds on an 18ct white gold case with a mother-of-pearl dial and amethyst hour markers.

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