Unveiled at Baselworld 2011, these L.U.C XP Urushi timepieces are created in association with Kiichiro Masumura, the world renowned Urushi artist who has been awarded with the title “Living National Treasure” by the Japanese government. His magnificent works of art are magnificently showcased within the understated lines of the L.U.C XP, an ultra-thin model equipped with the mechanical self-winding L.U.C 96HM movement.
The “Living National Treasure” concept was developed in 1950 by the Japanese government and used to define all those to contribute to preserving a heritage, a culture and ancestral skills such as Urushi.
Urushi is the ancestral Japanese art of lacquering. The varnish is made from the sap of the Urushi tree, also known as the “lacquer tree” or the “Japanese varnish tree” – and which mainly grows in Japan and China. The harvesting of the resin, somewhat like the rubber from the hevea Brasiliensis or “rubber tree”, can only be done once a year and in very small quantities. Three to five years after being harvested, the resin is treated to make an extremely resistant, honey-textured lacquer. It is applied in exceptionally fine successive layers, traditionally on daily objects such as bowls or boxes. Maki-e is a specific Urushi technique that consists of sprinkling the lacquer with metal powder – in this case gold – in order to accentuate its contours. The gold dust is applied using bamboo tubes and small brushes made from rat’s hair, in order to trace extremely fine lines. This art calls for extreme expertise and only a few “Urushi Masters” – including Kiichiro Masumura – still exercise it today with consummate skill.
The L.U.C XP Urushi is the first timepiece with a dial adorned in this way. In 2009, a few initial models were crafted and presented exclusively in Japan. The Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi collection comprises of timepieces featuring nine different dials technically supervised by Kiichiro Masumura and designed, painted and adorned with gold dust by the Yamada Heiando Company an official supplier to the Emperor of Japan.
These works represent the five basic elements of the universe according to the ancient philosophy of Chinese natural science, and one portrays the universe itself. The five legendary creatures – the dragon with a blue horn, the phoenix, the qilin in the moonlight, the crouching tiger and the genbu (a blend of precious snake and tortoise) respectively evoke wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
The last three dials feature a peacock, a red fish and the jungle. Each meticulously painted and unique model reveals a wealth of original details imbued with a deep sense of poetry.
The Chopard L.U.C XP is a supremely elegant ultra-thin model measuring a mere 6.8 mm thickness is the epitome of perfect watchmaking mastery. Designing and producing a mechanical self-winding movement equipped with two barrels and a 65-hour power reserve that could be accommodated within such a thin case is a truly impressive accomplishment.
The watchmakers of Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier have achieved this feature by means of a clever construction based on an off-centred rotor. The designers have also subtly worked the round case with its broad 39.5 mm diameter to give it a sleeker profile with a thin bezel and an extremely fine “caseband”.
Featuring a case crafted in 18-carat rose gold (or white gold for the Universe dial version only), and fitted with a black alligator leather strap, the L.U.C XP Urushi models are delivered with a special presentation box also decorated according to Urushi techniques. Black on the inside and adorned in Maki-e gold on the outside, its octagonal shape is an oriental symbol of gaiety. A small silk cord serving as a lock, along with the seals of Kiichiro Masumura and Yamada Heiando, endow this object a truly timeless dimension.
18ct rose gold case
Total diameter: 39.50 mm
Thickness: 6.80 mm
Water-resistant to 30 metres
18ct rose gold crown with L.U.C logo: 4.00 mm
Glare-proofed sapphire crystal on front and back
Mechanical self-winding movement: L.U.C 96HM
Diameter: 27.40 mm
Thickness: 3.30 mm
Number of jewels: 29
Frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 65 hours
2 barrels Twin® technology
Côtes de Genève adorned bridges
Dial and hands
Gold-toned Dauphine hour and minute hands
Functions and displays
Central hour and minute display
Strap and buckle
Black alligator leather strap lined with brown alligator leather
18ct rose gold pin buckle
Ref. 161902-5049 – in 18ct rose gold with Peacock dial
Ref. 161902-5048 – in 18ct rose gold with Tiger dial
Ref. 161902-5050 – in 18ct rose gold with Jungle dial