Chopard-L.U.C-Skull-One-Limited-Edition

Day of the Dead: The Chopard L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition

Looking at a watch like the L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition, it is easy to dismiss the piece as an avant garde dial wishing to attract attention. The truth is, there’s much more to the piece than meets the eye. The Chopard Skull One is made in tribute to the Dia de los Muertos— day of the dead— a holiday that has emerged from Mexican ancient tradition and is still observed to this day. 

Chopard-L.U.C-Skull-One-Limited-Edition
Chopard L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition

History

While the Skull One may be a progressive watch design, the brand is in no way a newcomer to the industry. Chopard was founded in Sonvilier, Switzerland, in 1860 by Louis-Ulysse Chopard. Chopard’s goal was to create extremely accurate ultra-thin pocket watches. To this day, Chopard watches are known as some of the thinnest on the market, with many micro rotor movements within the brand’s repertoire (one will be highlighted here). 

The Skull One was introduced in 2021 in a limited production run of only 8 pieces in this configuration available worldwide. Chopard says the piece was introduced to reinforce the fragility of life, in hopes that owners would be reminded to make the best of their lives and live to their full potential. The Skull One showcases the brand’s commitment to thin timekeepers, combining the brand’s historical legacy with its more contemporary design.

Chopard-L.U.C-Skull-One-Limited-Edition
Chopard L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition

Design Details

The L.U.C Skull One is most clearly defined by its conspicuous dial motif, a “Calavera” skull face with sun, flower, and heart symbols concealed in the dial pattern. The skull has a curled mustache signed “L.U. Chopard”, and has radial striping emanating from its center towards the outside of the dial. The gray-black dial contrasts with a rose gold case, handset, indices and 3,6, 9, and 12 hour markers. The dial scape has a sophisticated brushed graining that reflects light brilliantly.

Chopard-L.U.C-Skull-One-Limited-Edition
Chopard L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition

While the rose gold case adds some flash to the very casual dial, the 18k surface is blasted, forming a textured surface finish that generates a more casual effect. Similarly, a rose gold tang buckle has received the same blasted finish and is engraved L.U.C. Blasted 18k gold almost has the appearance of a textured bronze, making for a tactical presence, complemented by a hand stitched leather strap. One of Chopard’s focuses on their site is the mention of the fact that the leather for their straps is ethically sourced, which will certainly be a plus for many collectors. 

The sapphire caseback is tinted to match the tones of the dark dial, which is a detail that seems almost unnecessary, until you consider the fact that a bright grained movement on the caseback would conflict with the dark dial of the piece. Rather than anodizing the movement surfaces, Chopard simply tinted the crystal. It’s a subtle refinement that makes the watch much more cohesively finished, though you could argue that this was also the easier and more cost effective solution of the two routes. 

Chopard-L.U.C-Skull-One-Limited-Edition
Chopard L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition

The Skull One has a slimline Calatrava style case with a stepped bezel separating the mid case from the bezel assembly. One of the other tasteful details of the piece is a perfectly proportioned crown. Ever so slightly wider than the 3 o’clock hour marker, the crown is neither too large nor too small. This seems like a simple component, but it is surprising how many mainstream brands fail in creating watches with properly proportioned crowns that suit the case diameter and thickness. Chopard gets full points on this one. 

Chopard-L.U.C-Skull-One-Limited-Edition
Chopard L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition

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Inner Workings

L.U.C’s Skull One limited edition is powered by the ultra thin automatic winding caliber no. 96.53-L. The dial of this piece, which ostensibly suggests quartz as the natural pairing for the watch’s style, betrays a genuinely impressive mechanical micro-rotor movement that is world class in quality. Laid out much like the famous Patek Philippe caliber 240Q found in watches such as the 3940, the Chopard 96.53-L is a mere 3.3mm thick, in spite of two barrels supplying 58 hours of power reserve. This is an impressive feat for any brand, and Chopard has expertly executed it. 

Chopard-L.U.C-Skull-One-Limited-Edition
Chopard L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition

The bridges have received côtes de Genève, and subtle anglage adorns the edges of those bridge plates. Beneath the micro-rotor, perlage is visible on the baseplate. Even through tinted glass it’s easy to observe that this is a high level of finishing with brilliant architecture that one would expect on a much more expensive watch. It is arguably the traditional components of this movement that serve as the ultimate reminder of the heritage Chopard possesses within the industry, and the legacy they have built since their founding in 1860. 

Chopard-L.U.C-Skull-One-Limited-Edition
Chopard L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition

Versus the Competition

It is incredibly difficult to find close competitors to the Chopard Skull One. Within this price segment and level of craftsmanship, few brands are willing to take the risk of a dial such as the one featured on this piece. 

Thus, for the most notable competitors, we’d recommend looking at other dial-centric watches such as the Little Lange 1 Aventurine, a very special Lange with an aventurine dial that steals the show. Within Lange’s relatively traditional collection, a piece such as the Little Lange 1 Aventurine stands out as a less conventional design. While certainly more reserved than the Skull One, both are eye-catching pieces with unique dial aesthetics.

Continuing with the trend of special dials and traditional complications, the Patek Philippe 5131R with enamel dial is a very special variant of Patek’s world time complication with a hand painted enamel dial executed by one of only two specialized artists at Patek capable of painting these dials. Once more, this piece is a watch that easily could have merely been a simple world time, most notable for its movement, yet Patek has chosen to elevate a successful movement with an equally successful and special dial combination. 

Chopard-L.U.C-Skull-One-Limited-Edition
Chopard L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition

Personality

The Chopard Skull One is quite a compelling option for a specific type of collector. This collector likely wants to own an eclectic piece that is simultaneously incredible on the movement side, and playful on the dial side. A collector who appreciates horology but doesn’t want a super buttoned up aesthetic will identify with this piece. 

A certain niche market of Dia de los Muertos enthusiasts who also obsess over watches will likely only have one watch to scratch their itch, and it will be the Skull One. Whenever a brand leaves the confines of convention, it deserves a great deal of respect. Many of Chopard’s watches toe the line of traditional complications and aesthetics, using guilloché and other classic techniques to create beautiful dress timepieces. Therefore, when Chopard introduces a Skull One or similar piece, it stands out within their collections as perhaps an anomaly. Careful inspection of this piece, however, makes clear the brand’s commitment to quality and tradition. 

Chopard-L.U.C-Skull-One-Limited-Edition
Chopard L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition

Final Thoughts

The L.U.C Skull One Limited Edition is a singular fusion of elements. A unique story leads to a special skull motif on the dial, combined with a traditional precious metal case and high performance premium micro-rotor movement. One would never expect this amalgamation of seemingly conflicting details to work when combined, yet it does, and well at that. The watch is simultaneously dressy and supremely casual. The L.U.C Chopard Skull One is a walking paradox and yet at the same time it is a tremendous triumph for Chopard.

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