Just as the rose is favored flower of many, there are other blooms that can make us smile. A perfectly symmetrical sunflower can be a reminder of the summer days. A pristine white orchid can symbolize purity and the exotic. A red tulip can be at once childlike and passionate.
For Chopard Manufacture, their flower of choice is the peony. Or rather, it is the flower of choice of Chopard co-president Caroline Scheufele. The peony has a strong presence in Chinese history, dating back to the 9th century BC. Peonies are considered by some to be the queen of all flowers, and they symbolize wealth and honor.
Peonies were in abundance in the palace gardens during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907). Some say peonies are also a symbol of strength and perhaps even stubbornness. According to legend, Empress Wu Zetian was upset with a bare Imperial Garden of Chang’an, Tang Dynasty’s capital. She ordered all flowers to bloom for her. Many flowers acquiesced — the lily, the honeysuckle, the jasmine, to name a few. But one did not. The ephemeral peony stood her ground and did not bloom. Perhaps she knew she wasn’t quite ready and didn’t want to give a less than perfect appearance for the beloved Empress. The Empress didn’t see it that way though — she felt humiliated and thus exiled the precious peony from the Palace.
Chopard Manufacture has dedicated an entire line just to the majestic peony: L.U.C XP Esprit by Fleurier Peony. The master artisans at Chopard have been creating different interpretations of the peony with each limited edition. The 35mm diameter watch gives the artisans enough space to stretch their creativity. In 2016, we looked at their pink damask dial watch with and inlaid peony in diamonds. Sweet yet sassy. In 2018, we looked at their more modern approach with black peonies in silhouette against a white dial. Chopard has mastered many different crafts and this L.U.C XP watch is their canvas of choice.
For this year, the mains d’art (artistic hands) of Chopard have chosen to present a fair bouquet of peonies on the dial of the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony. The purple dial offers a dark and fitting backdrop to the beautiful peonies that have come to bloom. The camaieu technique really does justice to these blooms — the technique uses two to three tints of a single color to create a monochromatic image. For this watch, the hues are pink, from the lightest to the darkest, bordering on deep purple. Shading is often used to bring certain details to light, but not this time. The artisans chose the lustrous mother-of-pearl appliques to give the flowers that added dimension. A touch of whimsy is here too, as there is an 18-karat rose gold butterfly about to land on the biggest peony in the bouquet.
All the blooms and whimsy appear on the dial side of the watch. As this is Chopard, you know there is more to expect. The movement side of the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony reveals the yet another artistic technique, Fleurisanne engraving. The technique was popular in the 19th century and it was used to add scrolling patterns and floral motifs to works of art. Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele discovered this technique on a carriage watch from 1870. So enraptured was he by the beauty of the engraving, he included it in some of the L.U.C pieces.
Maison Chopard has always been dedicated to artisan work and craftsmanship and they have been working to re-introduce this art to the modern world. For the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony, the technique is used on the movement bridges. The process began with an artist drawing freehand, then marking the design with an engraving tip. Then, slowly and carefully, the artist would remove the material not part of the main design. Little by little, the design would come to life.
Adding elegance to this peony bouquet are the diamonds on the bezel and case. Skilled jewellers are part of the creative process and they go to great efforts to choose only the best and most sparkling diamonds. The painters have their hand in this as well, and each L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony is an exceptional timepiece that reflects the beauty of peony.
The L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony is powered by the L.U.C Calibre 96-23-L with Twin technology that gives it a 65-hour power reserve. The self-winding movement is housed in a case merely 7.55 mm in thickness. The 18-carat rose gold case is water resistant to 30 meters. The watch has the central display of hours and minutes, but really, you might not notice the time and instead focus on the beautiful blooms. Complementing the pink and purple peony bouquet is the pink alligator leather strap with a polished pin buckle, also in 18-carat rose gold and diamonds. The watch is a boutique exclusive, an eight-piece limited edition.
Blooms for Eternity
With the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony, you can have an elegant bouquet on your wrist throughout your days. No doubt that Empress Wu Zetian would have approved.