21 October 2020
The quintessence of Urushi, the ancestral Japanese lacquering art, joins with supremely refined Swiss watchmaking in celebrating Vietnamese culture. Three extremely limited editions of the L.U.C XP timepiece, available exclusively in Chopard’s Vietnam boutiques, have been added to the Maison’s Haute Horlogerie collection. Crafted in ethical 18-carat rose gold and powered by the ultra-thin L.U.C 96.17-L movement, the L.U.C XP Urushi Vietnam Edition depicts the flow of time on lacquered dials richly decorated with national heritage symbols. An encounter between several artistic crafts brilliantly orchestrated by Chopard.
Representing the focal point of this special edition, the dial of these new L.U.C XP timepieces dedicated to Vietnamese culture is entirely hand-crafted. It features the traditional Japanese Urushi technique, which involves combining lacquer and gold dust. The great symbols of Vietnam’s national culture are thus represented through three types of dial, each issued in a limited numbered edition of six.
The first scene pays homage to three emblems of the country: the foreground is graced with lotus flowers in bloom, linked in popular culture to future purity and prosperity. In the background, one can admire the Turtle Tower, a monument erected on the islet of a peaceful lake in the city of Hanoi to honour a legendary victory over the Ming army won by the hero named Le Loi. Finally, on the left side of the dial, a young woman dressed in the traditional silk "Ao Dai" tunic lends her grace and femininity to the entire fresco through the use of exceptional white mother-of-pearl.
Another six-piece edition reproduces the well-known picture of a boy riding a buffalo, a cultural heritage emblem currently being classified as such by UNESCO. This animal is indeed widely celebrated in the country, where it is present in many regions and contributes to farming rice paddies.
Finally, the third dial is enlivened by a scene from the old town of Hanoi, which has been home since the 13th century to a large number of artists and artisans, perpetuating skills to which Maison Chopard remains profoundly attached.
The varnish used in this ancestral lacquering art comes from the sap of the Urushi tree, also known as the “lacquer tree” or the “Japanese varnish tree”, which actually grows in both Japan and China. Its resin is harvested once a year in extremely small quantities. Only three to five years afterwards is the resin at last ready to be treated and thus become a highly resistant, honey-textured lacquer that is applied in extremely fine successive layers.
The Urushi lacquering technique requires extraordinary attention to detail. It is mastered only by vastly experienced artisans who dedicate their lives to improving their art, and whose every deft move is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. These virtues stem from a conviction that work should be done well and which is entirely shared by Chopard. For the creation of these precious dials, the Maison relied on its loyal partner Yamada Heiando, official supplier to the Japanese imperial family, and its Master Minori Koizumi, who personally crafted the 18 dials adorning the L.U.C XP Urushi Vietnam Edition series.
This Far Eastern nobility is mingled with Swiss nobility, that of watchmaking according to Chopard. These exceptional dials are framed by the L.U.C XP watch case. Its dainty bezel, its refinement and its modest diameter make it a finely wrought creation highlighting the craftsmanship of the Japanese artists. It is also well-served by the excellence of the L.U.C 96.17-L calibre. This extremely slim self-winding movement makes use of a 22-carat micro-rotor integrated into the movement thickness in order to strike the perfect balance between thinness and practicality. Equipped with two barrels to ensure a generous 65-hour power reserve thanks to Chopard's exclusive Twin technology, this calibre is finished according to the highest standards of aesthetic quality. With its bevelled and polished chamfers, polished screws, bridges adorned with Côtes de Genève, it too stems from a demanding process. A hand-sewn brown alligator strap lends the final touch of elegance to each timepiece gracing the L.U.C. collection, designed for contemporary gentlemen who like to distinguish themselves by wearing horological artworks endowed with unique details.
In addition to its aesthetic and technical prowess in crafting the L.U.C XP Urushi Vietnam Edition, Chopard also called on the talent of the Vietnamese Maison Hanoia, a lacquering specialist, to design its watch presentation boxes. Each of the dials inspired three designs: the “Turtle Tower” timepieces are protected in a red presentation box featuring a bas-relief motif inspired by the lotus flower. “The Boy and the Buffalo” interpretations come in a black presentation box with a clasp featuring the head of the horned animal. It opens to reveal a left-hand compartment designed to hold the watch, and another housing a buffalo paperweight. Finally, a black presentation box adorned with gold dust-coated engravings contains the latest series of timepieces paying tribute to the “Old Town of Hanoi”. Even before opening, each of these precious presentation boxes heralds the refinement of the creations it contains.
Chopard is a family-owned Maison with a strongly ingrained philosophy of independence. The steps involved in creating L.U.C watches are all performed in-house at the Maison’s Geneva and Fleurier production sites. Movement development and component machining, traditional hand-crafted decorations, gold smelting, case stamping and machining, surface treatments, polishing, assembly, adjustment and quality controls: such is the comprehensive range of watch production operations fully mastered by Chopard and applied to the creation of each L.U.C watch. Since July 2018, all the Maison’s gold watch and jewellery creations are made from 100% ethical gold.