One of the best new casual dress watches for 2017 comes unsurprisingly from Chopard’s lauded L.U.C (LUC) collection. The L.U.C XP model itself isn’t new, but the Chopard L.U.C XP Ref. 168592-3001 is a brand new reference and given the design and colors, it really stands out from the pack.
Chopard’s main watch designer, Guy Bove, is who I give the most credit to for the brand’s best looking timepieces ranging from the Mille Miglia and Classic Racing watches to the even more high-end fare from the brand’s premium L.U.C collection items. Guy helps the brand’s in-house manufacturing team deliver a beautiful presentation for their work. While the LUC XP 168592-3001 lacks any real unique name or personality, this is a slightly different type of watch which will help collectors see it as being just different enough to merit attention.
L.U.C watches are mostly dressy, but there is a casual flair to this version of the L.U.C XP – even though it is indeed a dress watch. I actually find that selecting the right dress watch can in many instances be more challenging than selecting the right sports watch. The reason is that unlike sport watches (where functionality and durability are real issues), when it comes to selecting a dress watch it is almost entirely about looks and visual presentation.
Chopard’s L.U.C XP is pretty much the most basic L.U.C watch available as it has just two hands. The XPS is the model you want if you hunger for a subsidiary seconds hand. I believe that “XP” stands for “extra plat” (extra flat) – a reference to the case design which is 7.2mm thick. That isn’t crazy thin, but it is certainly thin enough. The in-house made automatic movement is 3.3mm thick – a number which is a bit more impressive.
There are times when a simple, super-legible, two-handed watch is just what the doctor ordered. Look at certain Panerai watches that also just have the hours and minutes – and I think you’ll agree there is a beautiful simplicity to the concept. Chopard playfully calls this notion “graphic restraint.” Don’t get me wrong, two hand watches beg for functionality since they only tell the time with hours and minutes. With that said, in exchange for sacrificing more hands, you do get an awful lot of sexy elegance.
Part of what makes this steel-cased with blue hands and hour markers LUC XP model great is the dial contrast, which makes it so legible. The applied hour markers and hands are blued (not painted) steel, which contrast very nicely against the “Dacron-finished” brushed silver-colored dial. Signature Chopard design elements such as the hands and hour markers exist in a dial that is about as simple as can be for the brand. What makes the watch great is a combination of the aesthetic design, as well as the particular colors and finishings that I know Mr. Bove obsesses over.
Married to the 40mm wide steel case (water resistant to 30m) is a strap which is actually blue-colored woven cashmere. It is soft to the touch and comfortable to wear (just don’t put it in the clothing dryer as it might shrink). What I like about the strap is that it feels versatile from a stylistic perspective. While it looks good with a blue suit, the somewhat casual style of the strap and the bold, modernity of the dial also mean that this Chopard L.U.C XP can work with a pair of blue jeans.
The inside of the strap is brown alligator, which is a good idea since wearing a cashmere strap without a liner is sure to make it not last very long. With that said, if you aren’t into blue cashmere, Chopard also offers the 168592-3001 with a blue alligator strap (also with a brown lining). I also think this type of watch could look really nice on steel metal bracelet which has been designed to go with the minimalist industrial look of the case and dial.
Inside the L.U.C XP is a fine in-house made Chopard movement. It is the caliber L.U.C 96.53-L, and is a tungsten (some other models have solid gold rotors) micro-rotor automatic with a long power reserve of 58 hours operating at a frequency of 4Hz (28,800 bph). This relatively long power reserve is thanks to two stacked mainspring barrels. Chopard has a more sophisticated version of this system called Quattro that uses four mainsprings.
The 96.53-L automatic movement is very nicely decorated and in our opinion on par with pretty much the best finishing available in a watch at this price, or even a few times more expensive. Priced less than Audemars Piguet or Patek Philippe, Chopard L.U.C watches hold their own and in many instances, offer a far superior value for the money.
The elegant looks, masculine presentation, and calming simplicity of the legible dial make the Chopard L.U.C XP 168592-3001 a real winner from me. Though I say this as a guy who is generally very enthused by most Chopard L.U.C XP and XPS versions – even if this 2017 version is stylistically a bit different. It also happens to be very versatile and practical, which means you can get away with wearing it in many situations. While you do get a fair amount of watch for the money, I think this timepiece would have been a super good deal at 1-2 grand less. And these days consumers love super good deals. Price for the Chopard L.U.C XP reference 168592-3001 is $9,250 USD. chopard.com