Chopard L.U.C Full Strike The sound of sapphire
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Chopard Manufacture is launching its first minute repeater. Although the L.U.C Full Strike is innovative in a number of ways, in one essential way – its sound – it utterly outperforms.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its creation, Chopard Manufacture is making some noise. It is launching its first minute repeater watch: the L.U.C Full Strike. Why Fullstrike? What does it mean? Back in 2006, the manufacture’s tenth anniversary, Chopard launched its first striking watch, an hourly chime named the Strike One. Strike One because it chimed just once, at the top of each hour. A minute repeater, however, actually sounds out the precise time, to the nearest minute, which is another kettle of fish entirely.
And in fact, minute repeaters have come an awfully long way over the last ten years. In terms of acoustic intensity, quality, price and reliability, the competition has really hotted up. In the intervening time, Chopard has seen quite a few innovations come and go. To bring out a worthy competitor, and ensure they were launching a landmark watch, they decided to create a unique minute repeater with a wealth of new features. Numerous safeguards protect it from user error; the strike function power reserve is exceptionally generous; its unique architecture makes it particularly compact; its manual finishes, stamped with the Geneva Hallmark, are of an extremely high quality; and its movement is made of solid untreated nickel silver. For all these reasons, which deserve a separate article of their own, the Fullstrike is a genuinely accomplished watch. But to appreciate the true genius of this timepiece (and the word “genius” is used advisedly) you have to actually hear it.
The tone produced by the L.U.C Full Strike is literally unlike anything else you have ever heard in a watch. It resonates with the timbre of a knife on crystal, just like a dinner guest tapping on a wine glass to call for silence. What is the secret? Well, the striking mechanism of the Full Strike is actually made of crystal. The gongs, the components that produce the sound, rather than being made of metal, are made of corundum. Sapphire, in other words. No one has ever achieved this before, and Chopard has patented the concept. So, it appears that sapphire not only produces a beautiful sound, it doesn’t break when repeatedly hit by a tiny steel hammer (which, you might be interested to know, is in the shape of a bell).
On paper this all seems very fine. But how does it transpose into real life? Well, it lives up to its promise. To the ear, the Full Strike is truly astonishing. The strike is very loud, very clear and very sustained. Each strike resonates unexpectedly in the air. All these qualities, extremely rare on their own but unheard-of in a single package, are the result of a second secret. The gongs are constructed in one piece with the watch crystal, carved from a single block of solid sapphire. The vibration initiated in the gong is transferred directly to the crystal, which vibrates just like the membrane of your hi-fi speakers.
But it’s not just this surface effect that makes the difference; it’s the homogeneity of the entire mechanism. In a classic minute repeater, the gongs are attached to the movement, which is attached to the case, which is topped with a crystal. All of these components are separate; they are made of different materials, and the joins between them are inevitably imperfect. In wave propagation, however, the quality of these connections is paramount. Any weakness creates a loss of energy, and energy here is the message. That means that sound quality deteriorates. But not with the Full Strike.
As a result, the Full Strike has an exceptional acoustic presence. The sound has a genuinely crystalline quality, an adjective often used in watch marketing literature, but rarely with anything to back it up. Another quality of the Fullstrike sound is its richness. Its full, warm tones are something you would expect to hear from a musical instrument.
The Full Strike thus unquestionably earns its place among the best minute repeaters, and yet for Chopard it was something of a shot in the dark. The men who created this watch movement are not experts in striking mechanisms, or transplants from another watch company that specialises in minute repeaters. No, they are employed in Chopard’s technical division. This is their first attempt at a minute repeater. And it’s a triumph.
Maison Chopard epitomises the alliance between watchmaking and jewellery. It has always known how to meet the expectations of its day, relying on four essential values: expertise, tradition, innovation and commitment to philanthropy, whilst working hard to pass on knowhow and skills to future generations.Find out more >
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