I simply cannot get enough of the calibre 1.96. As I’m not picking one up anytime soon, this is my love letter. 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. And that’s well overdue, as many have claimed this may be the most beautiful and competent automatic non-complicated calibre of all time. Honestly, it’s hard to argue with that.
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. A developing classic for those paying attention.
This example has a lovely case, no distinct bashes or dents. Lugs are full. There is a light hairline-level wear as one would expect. Its movement is perfect, as is the dial. It comes from a private collector out of Chicago.
Find this 16/1860/2 here from a private collector on Chrono24 for 20500 EUR.