If high-tech watchmaking materials are your thing, then BaselWorld 2014 will not disappoint – however, on display at the Chopard booth is a new “World First” in watchmaking material, and no – it hasn’t been created under laboratory conditions but mined using traditional methods. For the first time a watch, the Chopard Tourbillon QF Fairmined has been made using Fairmined gold, part of a new but long-term commitment by the company to ethical watchmaking.
Chopard’s involvement with the South American Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) began last year when they offered their support to the Coodmilla cooperative in Colombia. The hardship which is often endured in mining communities is widely published, but with Chopard’s assistance training and best practice procedures can be introduced in this poverty-stricken region. This will be an on-going association and by taking on the responsibility to purchase substantial Fairmined gold stocks from other cooperatives in South America, Chopard have set a new standard in ethical watchmaking.
Despite the fact that Chopard has been orphaned from its founding family for 50 years, the Scheufele family continue to honour Louis-Ulysse Chopard who founded his watchmaking business in the Swiss town of Sonvilier in 1860 with the L.U.C. collection, and the first showcase for the company’s Fairmined gold slips in rather nicely to this much admired portfolio notable for its fastidious finishing.
Fairmined gold has been used to make the 43mm case, the caseback and the bezel – all rose gold, which like blue dials has not just made its comeback but is very much here to stay – and the piece has been styled with a sunbrushed grey dial, very understated and entirely in keeping with this very genteel collection. Just beneath the 12 o’clock, the power reserve arcs providing dial-side equipoise for the tourbillon at 6 o’clock The Dauphine hands are inspired by 1930’s timepieces and the chunky Roman numerals are hand-applied. Inside is the L.U.C. 02.01.L hand-wound tourbillon movement with a generous nine day power reserve, certified to Chronometer standard by COSC.
Confirmation that quality is a priority at Chopard can be found in the inscription “Qualite Fleurier” on the dial. Widely considered to be the watch industry’s most demanding quality certificate the QF in the name of this watch has been earned by putting it thorough a high-class horological boot-camp during which precision and durability are rigorously tested and aesthetic finishing is scrutinised. Before awarding the certification, each watch is also tested by simulating the wearing conditions on specially created Fleuritest machine. Incidentally Chopard, who are pioneering members of the Fleurier Quality Foundation, hold the record for the largest number of models which have earned the “QF” badge of honour.
The Chopard L.U.C. Tourbillon QF Fairmined Ref. 161929-5004 will be a limited edition of 25 pieces each presented on a hand-sewn alligator strap.