‘The Hour Glass’ Edition Chopard LUC 16/1860/1018

You don’t change the recipe to Gordon Ramsay’s beef bourguignon. It’s perfect, he’s already painstakingly worked out every measured gram and second through repeated trial and error. That’s also why the 16/1860 has aged so gracefully, Chopard didn’t squander a perfect inheritance for the sake of just doing something new. When Michel Parmigiani hands you one of the greatest time only calibres ever created, after an effective blank check investment and four years, altering it would be as wise as telling Gordon Ramsay to add a little more butter. You’d deserve to be screamed at. A young Parmigiani proved his ability and ambition in the architecture of this calibre, in the same way that a different Gordon, Murray, cut his teeth with a near blank check on the Mclaren F1. Surely this is that historic flagship for Chopard, a timeless wonder that appears to simply look better with age.

Except it has been altered, only so subtly you can’t really tell. This isn’t an original 16/1860, it was made last year. It’s 1 of just 10 examples made for VIP clients of The Hour Glass last year and the first one to come to market, at least that I’ve seen. The dial is champagne, with its own concentric guilloché pattern. And the dial is no longer signed Chopard, but a thinner plaque marked L.U.Chopard. And the petite seconds is marked in quarters only. The dial is still manufactured at Metalem. The calibre 96.01-L (renamed and slightly revised 1.96) still has twin mainspring barrels, stacked, with its micro-rotor. And unlike Patek, the Geneva Seal is still on proud display, COSC certified as well. Dufour likes the finishing. There’s no higher praise.

Think of it as the Simplicity that can be worn every day by normal people. These aren’t massively produced, still from an independent. This is a one of 10. It’s comparable to a Simplicity on every dimension: proportion, finishing (okay maybe not the bevels but the movement architecture is arguably more impressive), widely regarded as perfectly beautiful. The original 90s iteration is probably the more collectible. But if you just want an LUC to wear and love, this slightly more modern take has pulled of the rare trick of losing nothing of the essence of the original. And the small tweaks are enough to make a difference to those who care, slight modernization like the Porsche 911 carefully and tenderly updating between generations. You have to stare for a while to pick up the updates. In truth though, just the fact that you can credibly call this a Simplicity alternative and it’s an order of magnitude easier to attain says enough. This is one of our watch generation’s great opportunities.

As this is in essence a year old watch, its wear is commensurate. Very very little visible. Light hairlines and that’s it. It comes with its full set from a well regarded Malaysian retailer.