For centuries the Swiss have been known for their exquisitely designed watches, and Chopard watches is no exception. The company was founded in 1860 by Louis-Ulysse Chopard at the age of just 24; he was a Swiss watchmaker from the little town of Sonvillier near Bern.
Louise-Ulysse Chopard was born on May 4, 1836, and his father persuaded him to learn watch making at a very young age. The decision to establish a watch making company was born out of an astute observation of the market at that moment, he realized that it was more profitable to market finished watch products than to just make the mechanical movement.
The company originally started out designing ladies watches and pocket watches and was specialized in innovative precision watches with intricate and exquisite decorations. In a bid to distinguish his craft from that of his competitors, he chose to focus production and design on making finely crafted ultra-thin high-precision pocket-watches intended for daily wear.
The watches were known all over Europe for their luxurious designs, and it was once famously worn by Czar Nicolas II of Russia (Talk about creating for the best and “baddest” in the society)
Louis-Ulysse passed on in 1915, and the company was passed on to his son Paul-Louis and grandson Paul-Andre, who continued the good work of steering the company in the direction of development and innovation, the company continued producing elegant pocket watches and bejeweled ladies wristwatches.
In the late 1920’s Art Deco was in vogue, and the company quickly adopted this style demonstrating their ability to evolve with new trends and stay relevant with their huge fan base and customers. Later in 1937 with increased growth in revenues and a flourishing business model, the company relocated to Geneva which is largely renowned for being Europe’s watchmaking capital.
World War II broke out not too long afterwards and this lasted from 1939 to 1945. This severely affected the business climate in Europe as many companies-including Chopard-struggled financially. Even though Paul-Andre was a talented watchmaker, his business acumen was not so impressive and he was struggling to keep the company afloat.
In the late 1960’s he was ready to sell his grandfather’s company, and a lot of potential purchasers registered their interest among whom was Karl Scheufele III, who was also a third generation member of a well-respected watchmaking family.
His grandfather, Karl Scheufele I was born on August 6 1877, in the town of Pforzheim, Germany. He was orphaned at an early age, and developed an interest in watchmaking during his teenage years as a youth in an orphanage. He started his company Eszeha which is simply the spelling of the first three letters of his surname when pronounced in German. He invented a special clip device that served as a means to attach a pocket-watch to the wrist thanks to an innovative system.
His company produced watches and exquisite jewelry that quickly developed an international demand and market base. He also revolutionized the way pocket-watches were designed; his company was responsible for developing the innovation that allows the owner to wear the watch as a necklace or a bracelet which resulted in it being a popular accessory for women. He further exhibited his visionary approach to the business by foreseeing the economic climate across Europe during the world war I, he knew people wouldn’t necessarily be in need of luxury watches, so he branched towards limited jewelry production and began producing watches with a more pragmatic and discreet though still elegant look.
After the war as prosperity began to return to Europe and the 1920’s Art Deco began to make waves across Europe, he created a new line of watches known as the famous “wallet watches”, these were watches enclosed in decorated cases and they were pretty popular back then.
The family tradition for flawless jewelry watches was passed down from generation to generation and the company continued to prosper. This acquisition by the Scheufele family gave the company the much needed to become an established name in both jewelry and watchmaking.
The high level manufacturing capacities of most company was shared between Geneva and Fleurier. However, fully aware that an independent company must rely on its own resources to be successful, Chopard set up facilities to manufacture its own mechanical time pieces.
In 1963, Karl III met with Paul-Andre and purchased Chopard, fulfilling the dreams of his grandfather Karl Scheufele 1.
With the new owners, Chopard developed to become a leading global watch and jewelry brand. It was a successful marriage between the creations of Karl Scheufele III with the principles of its founder.
Karl Scheufele III introduced different memorable collections; like the Belle Epoque, Cascade, Happy Diamonds, Moonlight and Paradiso that established Chopards’s status as a powerful and world leading brand in the watch making sector.
The company grew so much in stature that it received the Baden-Baden Golden Rose award 15 times between 1970 to 1980.
One of the most remarkable moments of the company was when they were awarded the award in 1976 for the signature happy diamonds model.
Later in 1990, Karl Scheufele III handed over the management of the business to his heirs who took their place in the company and continued with their family’s legacy of producing exquisite and trend-setting time pieces.
Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele was made the artistic manager of the Haute Joailerie sector; she was responsible for the creation of the “Happy Diamonds” collection, and it recorded great success in the market, the lovely jeweled crown with a belly full of colored stones and it later became the official mascot for the brand. She is widely known for designing exceptional collections that attract massive public and media acclaims which in turn results in massive sales and huge revenue returns. Her designs have also gathered positive publicity on the global stage by film stars on red carpets; this is partly due to the fact that the company became an official partner of the Cannes Film Festival in 1998. This partnership has led to Chopard showcasing a dazzling parade of jewelry and watches on the red carpet year after year.
Her brother on the other hand was in charge of the watchmaking departments where he supervised the production of superb and well sought after time-pieces.
Karl –Friedrich Scheufele had two passions watchmaking and sport cars, and he figured out a way to combine both passions by creating numerous exquisite sport watches such as the St. Moritz, Monte Carlo, and the 1000 Miglia. As a result of these products, Chopard has been able to develop a productive ongoing business partnership with the organizers of the legendary 1000 Miglia race.
The unveiling of the St. Moritz as the first sports watch to be designed for Chopard; the line of water-resistant, sport-chic watches was proposed in steel and in 18 carat gold, it was equipped with a self-winding movement and was available in men’s and ladies version, including a chronograph, the design of this sport watch captured the mood of the times, and lent itself to both casual and formal occasions.
Later in 1997 the company launched the world’s most expensive watch called the “Chopardissimo”.
In 2010 the company celebrated their 150th anniversary in grand style, with Chopard developing a new Haute Joailerie collection nicknamed the Animal Collection; it was made up of Caroline’s Original designs from 150 unique and timeless animal-themed set pieces, and it featured animals from around the world and some of the highlights included Frog with crown ring mimicking the childhood fairytale , with a fro awaiting a magical kiss from a princess, the ring was set in chite gold with emeralds and black and white diamonds.
The collection also included the Turtle ring; a unique ring that majestically portrays a sea turtle with an 11.43 carat brown diamond for a shell.
The Kaola ring was made from 18 Carat rose gold set with two 4 carat round colored diamonds and other multi-colored diamonds and onyx; the exquisite Parrot Necklace in 18 carat white gold set with 13 carat pear shaped rose-cut diamonds, 69 carat aquamarines, 17 carat white diamonds and blue sapphires.
Finally, she created the Owl watch in 18 carat white and Rose gold set with diamonds between 2 and 7 carats.
Four new limited edition Chopard models were also introduced which included the L.U.C. 150 ‘all in one’ which followed the equation of time series, and was truly a work of art, enhanced by the Tourbillon feature. It is embellished by Poincon de Geneve craftsmanship.
The L.U.C 1937 is a model issued by Chopard in order to highlight its watchmaking traditions; 1937 was a significant year because it was the year the company was moved to Geneva. The L.U.C Engine one Tourbillon is a master piece built according to the principle of traditional watchmaking powered by a L.U.C Calibre 1 TRm engine; this model featured fine demonstration of the close links between Chopard and motor sports.
Bringing it together
In the competitive market of jewelries and watches, the amazing brand of Chopard has been able to charm Men and women with its luxury and elegance, the brand has been able to distinguish itself from its competitors because if offers customers watches and jewelry with features that simply blow your mind way. The creativity, dynamism and uniqueness of their pieces is simply unrivalled.
The brand has also managed to stay innovative by constantly offering new models and designs to their customers and they are always constantly looking for different materials to create new designs.
However, despite their innovative spirit, they have been able to achieve a seamless merger between the traditional techniques of creating watches and new technology and materials to produce quality and exquisite models.
As can be seen in the Haute Joaillerie collection, they used more titanium which is extremely durable and lightweight; they also managed to color it, which allowed it to sync with the colours of the stones with this resulting into a truly outstanding product.
Despite the changes in the society, despite the many twists and turns over the decade, the company still remains firmly rooted in its traditional values and it is perfectly poised to lead the creation of a new line of watches different from the norm.