For the last three years, Chopard has embraced the graceful peony flower to decorate its L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier 35mm limited releases for ladies. This year is no exception and Chopard unveiled a beautiful 18k rose gold release of eight watches decorated with the silhouette of black paper-cut peonies on the dial and exquisite Fleurisanne etching on the extensions of the development. As the female agent of the L.U.C XP family, the watch is fitted with a Chopard manufacture ultra-slender automatic movement.
The specialty of paper cutting
Chopard has recurred to the specialty of paper cutting to create the delicate black peonies on the dial, a technique that highlights the sensual state of the ruffled petals of the peony flower and captures its fleeting bloom. Developed in numerous corners of the globe, the specialty of paper cutting probably began in Ancient China following the innovation of paper. Jianzhi, Chinese paper cutting, came to the front in the 6th century AD and ten centuries later made its approach to Switzerland and Germany where the decorative folk craft of scherenschnitte (scissor cuts) is still practiced right up ’til the present time, especially in the Pays d’Enhaut area in the Vaudois Alps.
Set against a glossy white Grand Feu enamel dial, the craftsman responsible for the black paper peonies on the dial has played with solids and negative spaces to capture the essence of the flower and underline its transitory nature. It’s one thing for a real flower to fade, but it is terrible to see a similar process occur on your watch and I was reassured by Chopard that the sapphire crystal glass on the dial has an enemy of ultraviolet treatment to ensure a perennial black bloom over the years.
Floriography and the Asian connection
Many top luxury brands like to be associated with a particular assortment of flower. Consider Chanel’s camellia, Chaumet’s hydrangea or even Dior’s roses. Floriography, or the secret language of flowers, flourished in the Victorian time allowing lovers to exchange messages that would have offended the prevailing etiquette. Although floriography has been replaced by more quick types of communication, flowers are still associated with certain symbolic values, and Chopard’s choice of the peony is revealing.
The peony, which began in central Asia, is a powerful talisman in Chinese culture. Symbolizing best of luck, great health, honor and flourishing, the peony was intimately linked to the destiny of the country for quite a long time and was the national flower of China until 1929. Couple this solid symbolic bind to Chinese culture with the fact that the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier is produced in a limited release of just eight pieces – a lucky number in Asia – and you get the picture. The Chinese market is strategic to Chopard. During the brand’s introduction of its novelties at Baselworld 2018 a representative brought up that half of L.U.C watches are destined to China.
Fleurier, a village in the Jura area of Switzerland is a historical cradle of watchmaking and prestigious for certain decorative artistic skills, like the delicately engraved developments that have assumed the patronymic of Fleurisanne. Practiced since the 19th century, the craft of Fleurisanne etching, with its beautiful scrolling and floral themes, was much appreciated in China opening up a lucrative trade route. Since 1996, Fleurier has also been home to the Chopard Manufacture where Haute Horlogerie developments for the sophisticated L.U.C family are manufactured – just as developments for the Ferdinand Berthoud brand.
The specialty of Fleurisanne etching requires expert hands and long periods of preparing. To create its Esprit de Fleurier line, Chopard set out determined to restore this perishing custom and has prepared in-house craftsmans to play out their magic on the development of these watches. Working directly on the 18k scaffolds of the rose gold development, the craftsman eliminates metal to create a raised design, which thus is lavishly and lovingly decorated with floral themes or scrolling examples and afterward polished to achieve a high shine.
The underlying region is stippled by hand with a mallet, spot by speck, to create a grainy background and afterward rhodium-coated to acquire its high contrast two-tone appearance. Using simple tools that haven’t changed from the original tools used before, the craftsman requires a least fourteen days to imprint the development. A similar technique, deployed by Audemars Piguet on its Royal Oak Frosted Gold model , captures the icy ice of a winter’s morning, but the effect is achieved with a hand-guided machine tool.
An elite ultra-slight development: L.U.C 96.23-L
Presented in a luxurious 18k rose gold case with a slim profile of just 7.70mm, the Esprit de Fleurier Peony is embellished with a setting of brilliant-cut jewels along the bezel, lugs and case middle. Presently in its fourth year, the primary L.U.C watch for ladies was released in 2014 out of a 35mm width and is equipped with a manufacture mechanical automatic development – caliber L.U.C 96.23-L. A derivative of the original L.U.C Caliber 96.01-L , the main development created by the Chopard Manufacture, this ultra-flimsy development for the hours and minutes features a 22k gold stepped micro-rotor and advantages from the protected Twin technology ensuring a 65-hour power reserve.
The watch comes with a brushed black brushed fabric lash and a 18k rose gold pin buckle set with jewels. Limited to eight pieces, the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony is available exclusively in Chopard boutiques and retails for CHF 102,000. More details on www.chopard.com .