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Chopard’s long road

Chopard’s long road

Friday, 26 April 2013
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

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4 min read

In step with Baselworld’s redesigned complex, Chopard presented its new booth to the press, an opportunity to draw attention to the Happy Sport’s 20th anniversary, rising production at Fleurier Ebauches, and the L.U.C Perpetual T, the second most complicated watch from the brand.

Chopard knows how to impress, quietly but with style. Something the company has been doing at each of its inaugural presentations at Baselworld, the World Watch and Jewellery Show. For this year’s edition, which marks the end of a mammoth redevelopment of the site, Chopard’s two co-presidents, Caroline and Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, welcomed the press to unveil the new face of the company in Basel. The booth, which echoes the new design concept of the brand’s boutiques, stands proudly on the central aisle of the main hall, and displays the elegant classicism for which the brand is known. In fact it’s hard to imagine what went on behind the scenes: a fleet of 50 trucks was called in to transport the different pieces in the puzzle, including 27 kilometres of cable, that were put together over one and a half months. The structure rests on a 90-tonne steel base, covered with wood marquetry. There can be no doubting that Baselworld 2013 is doing things on a grand scale.

Of course, Chopard had more to show than just its booth, however impressive. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Happy Sport, launched in 1993, and Chopard is commemorating the event with special versions of this stylishly sporting watch with steel case and diamonds that float beneath the sapphire crystal that protects the dial. “The Happy Sport was a first that quickly became one of Chopard’s iconic designs and is now very much a part of who we are,” said Caroline Scheufele. “We wanted to mark this anniversary with something different, and so this year we’re releasing the Happy Sport Medium Automatic. As its name suggests, it features a mechanical movement, meaning the case had to be rethought to accommodate the new calibre. Again with this special anniversary in mind, we’re inviting customers to our Chopard boutiques where they can personalise their Happy Sport watch, for example by choosing the motif they would like to see moving around the dial.” The pièce de résistance for this birthday year will be the Happy Sport Diamantissimo, a one-off creation in all-over diamonds.

Happy Sport Medium Automatic in rose gold fully set with diamonds © Chopard
Independence above all

After Caroline Scheufele, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele took the stage to present Chopard’s complication watches, an area where the brand has clearly made its niche with Chopard Manufacture, based in Fleurier, which develops and manufactures the L.U.C movements. The L.U.C Perpetual T is a case in point. Equipped with four barrels that drive a tourbillon and a perpetual calendar, it is the second most complicated watch that Chopard has ever made. As Karl-Friedrich Scheufele reminded his audience, Chopard Manufacture is equipped to produce “solid, finely-crafted complications”, yet it isn’t the company’s only production tool. Since 2008, Chopard has been making its own ébauches on a much greater industrial scale. This bold move translates into 5,000 in-house movements a year, a figure slated to increase to 20,000 within three to four years. One of the models to benefit is the Superfast, part of the Classic Racing collection and this year proposed with self-winding, power-reserve and chronograph functions.

“Fleurier Ebauches and Chopard Manufacture are two separate entities working towards the same objective, which is to remain independent,” Karl-Friedrich Scheufele explained. “Granted, this may be the longer, more challenging and more costly route but it’s the strategy to which we’ve always adhered. Possibly we were fortunate enough to have made the move early on, meaning we haven’t had to cut corners.” For those who joined legendary racing driver Jacky Ickx, a friend and ambassador of the brand, at the Baselworld opening, there can be no doubt that with dedication and passion, a family firm can build the incredible success that Chopard enjoys.

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