BaselWorld 2018: Chopard - L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony - Artistic crafts enhancing an exceptional timepiece

Dec 05, 2018,07:30 AM

L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony
Artistic crafts enhancing an exceptional timepiece

It has become a precious rendezvous, almost a ritual. Each year, the Maison Chopard unveils a highly personal variation on the theme of the peony. Revered since antiquity, this intensely colourful, fragrant and symbolic flower finds worthy expressive territory in the L.U.C XP 35 mm. Alongside the Fleurisanne engraving that endows it with an aura of splendid refinement, Chopard Manufacture enhances this new edition with a technique requiring the same finesse and delicacy: the art of paper-cutting. Two operations driven by the same desire to embody the powerful, majestic and ephemeral nature of the peony.

The L.U.C. Esprit de Fleurier Peony perpetuates the line of L.U.C Esprit de Fleurier watches presented since 2015. It picks up the same aesthetic codes, the light and dynamic lines that ensure its timeless charm. This year, Chopard has boldly decided to offer an apparently unlikely association of two very different techniques.

The fleeting beauty of the peony
The peony is a flower of subtle yet fleeting beauty. It blooms for barely two weeks and a gust of wind or driving rain is enough to further shorten the pleasure it brings us. Chopard has chosen to depict the fragile peony through the art of paper-cutting, which originated in the East and has been practiced by many civilisations through the ages. Be it “Jianzhi”, the Chinese technique that has found its place on UNESCO’s Immaterial Heritage lists; “Kirie” from Japan; or “Sanjih” from India, all are echoed in the “Scherenschnitt”, the Swiss folk art of paper-cutting born in the Pays d’Enhaut in the Vaudois Alps. The latter currently features two main schools: a traditional one with rural scenes, and another, more contemporary, graphic and abstract mode of expression. Whatever the motif, the artistic intention or the cutting instrument used, each paper lacework tableau is a little miracle in its own right. At the crossroads between East and West, Chopard unveils the new L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony adorned with a stylised peony providing a remarkable demonstration of the art of using solids and voids. Crafted in black paper, the motif stands out beautifully against the majestic setting of the Grand Feu enamelled white dial. Framing the depiction and running along the bezel, lugs and case middle, the diamond setting accentuates this delicate and graceful cutting that is, in itself, infinitely precious. 

Fleurisanne engraving to magnify symbols
The peony appears at the beating heart of the watch, as if to enhance the significance of its symbolism. In Asia, it is the flower of prosperity and honour, also serving as the guarantor of a happy marriage and good health due to its medicinal properties. Its spring blooming is a metaphor of feminine beauty. Guided by these messages, the artisan to whom Chopard entrusted this delicate mission exercised his deft skills on the 18-carat rose gold movement bridges. The technique used is Fleurisanne engraving, an artistic craft that has all but vanished but which long contributed to the appeal of timepieces from the Fleurier region that were exported as far as China during the 19th century. Keenly aware of the threat of extinction facing this traditional technique, Chopard has provided in-house training for expert hands capable of perpetuating it.
Giving life to the exquisite motif of the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony calls for two full weeks of work devoted to engraving its movement. The singularity of this relief engraving technique consists of “sparing” the motif that one wishes to stand out. The surface thus preserved is then engraved with dainty volutes of peony petals and leaves. The background is individually dotted to create a grained appearance. Once the engraving is complete, the movement is rhodium-plated in order to give rise to a supremely elegant two-tone movement.

Chopard Manufacture cultivates exceptional artistry
Imagining the exceptional and then moving from dreams to reality, whatever the difficulties and the trials that may appear insurmountable…. Such is the mission daily taken on by Chopard Manufacture. An independent, vertically integrated Maison, Chopard has acquired the means to face every challenge, whether in terms of aesthetically spectacular creations or sophisticated watch movements whose complexity reflects its quest for innovation. It is in the village of Fleurier, in the Swiss Jura region, that Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Chopard’s visionary Co-President, founded a Manufacture in 1996 dedicated to producing certified Haute Horlogerie movements. The determination to achieve vertical integration of production was the driving force behind this endeavour. Within just over 20 years, this radical decision has enabled Chopard to assert its position within the exclusive circle of authentic watch Manufactures. The location has proved propitious to the development of the L.U.C watch collection named after Louis-Ulysse Chopard.

Each of the production stages of L.U.C watches is entirely conducted in the Maison’s sites in Geneva and Fleurier. Movement development, design, gold smelting, case stamping and machining, production of movement components and metal bracelets, as well as polishing, assembly, gem-setting, adjustments and quality control: the entire range of operations are performed in-house. The new L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony has benefited from this exceptional process which notably translates into the L.U.C 96.23-L calibre equipped with patented Twin technology involving two coaxial stacked barrels ensuring a 65-hour power reserve. Housing such a self-winding movement in an ultra-thin 7.50 mm case is a real feat in itself. It was made possible by an ingenious construction featuring a micro-rotor, visible through the exhibition back of this fascinating watch issued in an 18-carat rose gold eight-piece limited edition 

Technical details

L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony
18-carat rose gold 8-piece limited edition

18-carat rose gold
Total diameter 35 mm
Thickness 7.70 mm
Water resistance 30 metres
18-carat rose gold crown with L.U.C logo 5.00 mm
Upper crystal with anti-glare and anti-UV treatment
Diamond-set bezel, sides, lugs and case middle
Polished exhibition back with glareproofed sapphire crystal
Hand-engraved case-back surround

Mechanical self-winding L.U.C 96.23-L
Winding by a 22-carat gold micro-rotor
Number of parts 168
Total diameter 27.40 mm
Thickness 3.50 mm
Number of jewels 29 
Frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve approx. 65 hours
Two-tone 18-carat rose gold movement – rhodium-plated after engraving
Hand-crafted Fleurisanne engravings – peony motif
Two barrels – Twin technology
Balance spring with flat terminal curve

Dial and hands:
Gold dial coated with Grand Feu enamel featuring a black peony motif crafted using the paper-cutting technique typical of the Pays d’Enhaut
Gilded Dauphine fusee-type hours and minutes hands

Central display of the hours and minutes

Strap and buckle: 
Brushed black canvas strap
Diamond-set polished 18-carat rose gold pin buckle

Ref. 131944-5003 – in 18-carat rose gold
8-piece limited boutique exclusive edition

"Making of" #1 Making of Fleurisanne engraving

001 – Chopard fleurisanne engraving master at work

002 – To perform the slow and lengthy fleurisanne engraving process requiring extreme dexterity, Chopard has trained expert hands in-house to perpetuate this traditional skill.

003 – First work process on the 18-carat rose gold bridges of the L.U.C 96.23-L movement

004 – Fleurisanne, a technique based on progressive material removal

005 – A 18-carat rose gold chip being removed

006 – The base surrounding the motif is then stippled dot by dot to create a grainy effect.

007 – Each design part is stippled to highlight the splendid peony motif on the movement

008 - Finishes on the design work with a sharp nib

009 – The fleurisanne engraving finished

010 – Fineness and delicacy checking by the fleurisanne engraving master

011 and 012 – Tools used to engrave fleurisannes

013 – The engraver need several tools from differents sizes to perfectly engrave the peony motif

014 and 015 – Beveling of the bridge angles

016 – Fleurisanne engraved bridges being prepared before rhodium-plating

017 – All bridges of the movement are being rhodium-plated together

018 – The L.U.C 96.23-L bi-color movement bridges once rhodium-plated

"Making of" #2 Making of Enamelling

001 – Application of the enamel on the dial base

002 – The dial is completely covered with enamel by the master enameler

003 – Base of the dial once covered with enamel

004 – The dial is put on a rack

005 – The dial is then put in a dedicated oven heated to more than 800 °C

006 – The dial in the oven

"Making of" #3 Making of paper-cut

001 – The peony motif is cut by the master

002 – Each detail is cut with delicacy to reveal the beauty of the peony and its petals

003 – Several years of mastery are required to crafts such an exceptional dial

004 – The peony motif is finished and ready for the casing of the watch

005 – The paper motif is applied with glue on the base of the dial made of the Grand Feu enamel

Hope you now see how many hours it takes to make this watch and how many years this meister has been training for this.

Great job, Chopard!


This message has been edited by cazalea on 2018-12-05 07:57:00

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Thanks! I think the lady who was engraving was the same lady that engraved the watch that was nominated for GPHG award 2017.

 By: KIH : March 23rd, 2018-18:39
See here for my factory visit report - in the middle of the page: "And this is really a great moment - Mr. LaForge broke the news to Nathalie, who made this super engraving to this "L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony", which ta...  

Thanks for forwarding this report as well Ken, it is really interesting and full of useful information! :-)

 By: FabR : March 23rd, 2018-19:37
It might indeed be the same lady judging from the pictures, consistently with the fact that each company can only refer to a restricted number of artists who master these 'rare handcraft' skills... Thanks again for making these rare and exclusive document... 

Absolutely! Truly splendid timepiece

 By: Alkiro1 : March 24th, 2018-02:33
Best wishes Alkiro

Great report on a high-art watch [nt]

 By: Spangles - Mr. Tabby : March 24th, 2018-04:33

This is simply incredible.

 By: IPman : December 5th, 2018-09:19
The engraving work is truly otherworldly. Wow!

a beauty for sure

 By: Passionata_george : December 5th, 2018-21:49
thanks for the pix