Chopard achieves top-level minute-repeater sound in a single brilliant stroke.
“From the start of the project 5 years ago, I encouraged my team to do something innovative,” says Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, copresident of Chopard (800.246.7273, chopard.com). “The last thing I thought we should do was to make just another minute repeater.” The company’s new L.U.C. Full Strike minute repeater (price upon request) is much more than that: It is one of those rare watches designed around an idea so good, it vaults far ahead of the work of brands with longer pedigrees and greater depth of experience in acoustic watches. The Full Strike is easily one of the two or three best-sounding repeaters created during the last decade—crisp, clear, with both richness and intensity. Its quality stems from a simple idea: The gongs are made of sapphire—the same piece that forms the upper crystal itself, which helps to propagate the sound.
The acoustic potential of the crystalline material will be apparent to anyone who has tapped a knife to a wineglass. But for Chopard, a relatively small company, the arrangement has even more significance. By forgoing conventional metal gongs attached to the movement, Chopard has avoided much of the complex tuning process normally required to harmonize the sub-frequencies produced by metal-on-metal contact in the case and movement. The rarity of the watchmaking talent required to tune at the highest level might otherwise have been an insurmountable hurdle for a boutique operation like Chopard’s 20-year-old L.U.C. manufacture.
Freed from this constraint, the designers and engineers concentrated on other avenues to make this minute repeater stand out. The chime is powered for multiple uses by a separate barrel wound from the crown, rather than the usual slide. An elaborate series of safety systems both protects the movement and smooths the operation of the strike mechanism, which is perfectly visible in an openwork format. These features, and particularly Chopard’s breakthrough approach to sound, are much more than a capstone to the manufacture Scheufele has built one watch at a time. It is an idea-based achievement that will easily make the Full Strike the most collectible watch Chopard has ever built.
Look for additional coverage of minute-repeater watches in Robb Report Watch Collector, now available on newsstands.