Even in a year that has seen the release of several important acoustic timepieces, the Chopard L.U.C. Full Strike minute repeater stands out not only for its excellence in design and performance but, most important, for its level of innovation. Chopard’s use of synthetic-sapphire gongs in this openwork minute repeater may be the most interesting advancement to the complication since Abraham-Louis Breguet began to use the thin steel gongs still employed by almost every other manufacturer.
In their pursuit of a better-sounding repeater, Chopard’s developers experimented with ways to use the upper crystal as an amplifier. This path quickly led them to attempt to build the whole crystal-and-gong assembly from a single block of sapphire, which provided excellent sound transmission. The resulting repeater is both loud and resonant, making it all the more surprising that the concept had gone undeveloped until now.
The sapphire gongs, however, are not the only mechanical innovation in the L.U.C. Full Strike. Numerous systems guard the fragile minute-repeater mechanism while, at the same time, ensuring accurate chiming. An entirely separate power train wound via the crown drives the strike, which suggests that more complex versions of the movement requiring additional energy may be in the offing. It is true that with its sapphire gong material, Chopard has bypassed much of the traditional (and beloved) tuning process, yet the brand has probably succeeded in imagining a better minute repeater—an achievement collectors will certainly value.
Despite the considerable attention paid to the Full Strike’s chiming mechanism, Chopard did not neglect the model’s aesthetic appeal. The openwork layout provides a full view of the strike mechanism, including its hammers, racks, and inertial flywheel—all finished to Geneva Seal specifications. Furthermore, its 42.5 mm case makes the Full Strike a highly wearable and elegant timepiece. 800.246.7273 (chopard.com, price upon request).