I make no bones about the fact that the LUC calibre 1.96 is the Chopard I find most attractive, save Ferdinand Berthoud; it is possible for something to be expensive and massively undervalued. Much in the way that a multitude of collectors have only recently begun to acknowledge the exceptional watchmaking in early CPCP pieces or early Datographs, a subculture is forming around LUC. Chopard may be mostly known for the Alpine Eagle and sponsoring niche motorsport such the Mille Miglia (now a cocaine and Instagram model heavy tour of Italy for the 1%), but in 1995 their ambition knew no bounds.
LUC’s calibre 1.96—LUC so named for the initials of founder Louis-Ulysse Chopard—was an attempt to bring the manufacture back into the good graces of those who take watchmaking seriously. The brand hired in Mr. Parmigiani and gave him years and near-infinite means to develop a high-end movement signature to their house. Four years and twenty prototypes later, result was one of the purest and finest automatic movement designs of the decade: the cal 1.96 micro rotor with a 70-hour reserve from two mainspring barrels. I’d expect no less from the man at this point. Finishing levels were something to behold, not to mention COSC certification and the Geneva Seal as redundant accolades.
That incredible movement was dressed in a similarly exceptional and restrained series of designs. The dial was produced by Metalem, who also produces dials for Dufour’s Simplicity. High pedigree is an understatement. The piece we see today features a central guilloché and is made entirely in gold. The whole package is housed here in a graceful 37mm white gold case with short-er, tapering lugs. Dress watch selection could not come better advised. This first series of calibre 1.96 was produced from 1997 until 2002, with this 16/1860/2 (sapphire back) produced in 1860 examples of yellow gold, pink gold, white gold, and platinum respectively. Many speculate far fewer were actually produced, possibly fewer than a thousand in total. This is a developing classic for those paying attention.
This example has an untouched case, perfect dial, and untouched movement. It comes with a full set, and I mean full, including the original protection stickers and cert for the Geneva seal. It comes on a strap from the retailer, a well-regarded Dutch seller.
Find this 16/1860/2 here from Mr Watchley for 27850 EUR.