Chopard (Est. 1860 – ) It was a circuitous journey from Sonvilier, Switzerland where, in 1860, Chopard was first established to the land of the “Happy Diamonds” for which the company is most well-known today. It began with Louis-Ulysse Chopard (1836-1915), who, at age twenty-four, founded a high-precision watch manufacturing company that specialized in pocket-watches and chronometers.
Louis-Ulysse was the second son of Félicien Chopard and his wife Henriette, who had four children. Félicien, was a veteran watch framer who encouraged his sons to learn the watchmaking trade. Early on, Louis-Ulysse saw that comptoirs or watch dealerships earned their greatest profit from the work of the framers. Each spring, agents picked up the movements, fitted the dials and hands, cased up the finished movements and marketed the finished watches.
Chopard saw early on that it was wiser to work independently which led him to create his own brand. Using his initials, he created his L.U.C manufacturing company and the business grew quickly.
Meanwhile the Chopard family also grew. Between 1859 and 1870 the Chopards had two children, Paul-Louis and Ida Hélène.
By virtue of their precision and reliability, Chopard’s watches quickly gained an enthusiastic following and found buyers in Eastern Europe, Russia and Scandinavia. No watches were mass-produced yet they incorporated innovative artistry and functionality that won over large numbers of customers.
Chopard also realized that foreign markets represented the future of his watches and he traveled great distances to find customers. In 1912, he visited Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands with his finest creations. Chopard chronometers and watches marked the passing of time at the court of Nicholas II of Russia. This helped Louis-Ulysse Chopard establish his international clientele.
In 1921, the founder’s son, Paul Louis opened a branch in La Chaux-de-Fonds and soon made the city the company’s headquarters there. As the Swiss watch industry established its importance, it became important for the Chopard brand to operate in cities more famous for watchmaking than Sonvilier.
The move established Chopard’s current headquarters and also gave the firm many opportunities to burnish its heritage when applying the Poinçon de Genève, engl. Geneva Seal, in some of its collections.
In 1937, the firm moved again; this time to Geneva, the capital of “Haute Horlogerie” (Fine Watchmaking) that now gave it closer access to its cosmopolitan clientele. In 1943, Paul André Chopard, grandson of Louis-Ulysse, took control of the firm.
From the first Happy Diamonds watch to the ultra-sophisticated L.U.C. watches, Chopard became one of the leaders in luxury watches. The prestigious timepieces and the firm’s later forays into jewelry creation contain many distinctive features: remarkable quality, creativity, a successful blend of inventive design, modern technology, and traditional craftsmanship.
In 1963, Paul André needed to identify a potential buyer who would have the ability to give new life to and perpetuate the brand’s heritage since neither of Paul André’s sons wanted to take over the company. He found his buyer when he met the young Karl Scheufele III. A descendant of a dynasty of watchmakers and jewelers from Pforzheim, Germany, Karl Scheufele was a goldsmith and watchmaker in his own right.
As the new head of the company, Karl quickly gained new and significant experience with watchmaking that contributed to his modernization of the company. He also added a jewelry segment into Chopard watch production. Paul-Andre continued to work in the Chopard Company until his death in 1968.
With the Scheufele family’s support, Karl and Chopard experienced rapid and noteworthy development. It became one of the leading names in the high-end watch and jewelry industry. Entirely independent, Chopard still pursues the two families’ time-honored traditions.
Karl Scheufele and his wife Karin orchestrated the company’s international expansion for more than 40 years and are still active in the firm. Their two children are its current co-presidents: Caroline Scheufele is responsible for the ladies’ collections and high jewelry, while her brother Karl-Friedrich Scheufele manages the men’s collections and the Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier, where L.U.C movements are produced.
Some of the Company’s notable achievements include another move, in 1974 that re-located the Chopard factory from the center of Geneva to Meyrin-Geneva. It marked a new stage for Chopard as it started producing ladies’ and jewelry timepieces. In 1976, the company introduced the Happy Diamonds collection and created the first Happy Diamonds watch. Watches from the collection feature mobile diamonds that float freely between two sapphire crystals.
In 1980, the Chopard Company introduced sports watches on leather straps and added jewelry pieces to the Happy Diamonds collections. In the same decade, the first Chopard boutiques were opened in Hong Kong, Geneva and Vienna.
As their collaboration matured, the married owners, Karl and Karin found new ways to exploit their artistic sensibilities. Karin who, from a young age, had always shown a passion for drawing jewelry models designed a sketch of a clown with hinged legs and a belly full of diamonds and colored stones. It became Chopard’s icon and propelled the company into the designs for Happy Diamonds jewelry
Moving into serious branding in 1988, the company began its partnership with Mille Miglia, the classic Italian car rally and introduced the 1000 Miglia sports watch collection. Chopard has maintained its tradition of developing a new special edition Mille Miglia timepiece every year.
In 1996, the company drew on its origins by establishing a watch manufacturing company in Fleurier, in the Swiss Jura, dedicated to the production of mechanical L.U.C movements. After years of planning and development, the first Chopard in-house movement of the late 20th century was produced, the calibre 1.96. This calibre was in many ways a ground-breaking movement for Chopard and It has been referred to as “…perhaps the finest Swiss automatic movement now produced.”
Chopard became the official partner of the Cannes Film Festival in 1998 and Karin Scheufele redesigned the Palme d’Or that was, from then on, crafted in Chopard workshops.
The 21st Century saw the introduction of the Chopard L.U.C Quattro watch, powered by a technically advanced calibre with four barrels – an innovation that provided a nine-day power reserve and a Chopard L.U.C Tonneau watch powered by the first-ever tonneau-shaped self-winding movement with off-centered micro-rotor.
In 2002, Chopard became the official timekeeper of the prestigious Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, a classic car race held in Monte Carlo. The same year, it launched the Elton John watch collection on behalf of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The first ten years of the new century saw the introductions of the Happy Spirit collection, the L.U.C. Regulateur watch, Butterfly jewelry pieces, Copacabana and Golden Diamonds collections and introduced the L.U.C. Lunar One (2005) which was recognized in 2009 for its “technical and aesthetic excellence” having incorporated a perpetual calendar with complete moon-phase display.
The brand became a part of the sailing world when it initiated the Grand Prix Chopard Decision 35 sailing regatta.
In 2008, the Chopard Group founded Fleurier Ebauches S.A. after acquiring a building located next to its existing facilities in Fleurier, Switzerland. The purpose of this company is to produce mechanical watch movements and watch key components to be exclusively used in Chopard watches.
To celebrate Chopard’s 150th anniversary in 2010, it presented several anniversary collections: Animal World, 150 unique animal-themed Haute Joaillerie pieces and four new L.U.C models powered by the same number of new manufacture calibres, L.U.C Engine One Tourbillon, L.U.C Tribute to Louis-Ulysse Chopard, L.U.C 1937 and L.U.C All in One.
As far back as 1992, Chopard partnered with L’Oreal to release fine fragrances under the Chopard brand. The company’s first fragrance, a sweet and popular women’s fragrance Casmir, debuted to great success and spawned complementary colognes. The first men’s scent, Heaven, was introduced in 1994. The company offers many of its fragrances in flacons that resemble a gemstone and has introduced fragrances that coincide with a watch or jewelry collection, such as the Happy Spirit fragrances that correspond to its timepiece collection.
The early edition fragrances have now grown to at least 32 perfumes; the newest introduced in 2015. Chopard fragrances were made in collaboration with perfumers Olivier Polge, Bruno Jovanovic, Louise Turner, Michel Girard, Michel Almairac, Nathalie Lorson, Thierry Wasser, Amandine Marie, Jean-Christophe Herault, Dominique Ropion, Veronique Nyberg, Alberto Morillas, Christine Nagel, Mark Buxton, Lucas Sieuzac, Nathalie Feisthauer, Alexandra Jouet and Ursula Wandel.
To complete its product lines, the company also produces a range of Chopard accessories that relate to the main groups of jewelry and watches. For example, cuff links and pens in rubber patterns that complement some watches in the Classic Racing line. As of 2014, following accessories could be obtained: Leather, writing instruments, clocks, eyewear, and silk.
In mid-2015, the company announced that it would open a shop in Miami, Florida’s new Brickell City Centre, a 500,000-square-foot shopping center.
Contributor, Anthony DeMarco, reported in the September 2015 edition of ForbesLife that Chopard had introduced the Palme Verte collection made from ethically sourced gold jewels, suitable for daily wear, and at relatively affordable pricing. The collection of four jewels is made entirely of 18k Fairmined gold and is modeled after the design of the Palme d’Or, in which a single piece of cut crystal forms a cushion for a hand-cast 24k gold palm.
The design, the newest of several over the years, was created in 1998 by Caroline Scheufele, artistic director and co-President of Chopard to combine a symbol of luxury with the rich cachet of Cannes. The four pieces of the Palme Verte collection (earrings, pendant, ring and bracelet) are directly inspired by the award’s single palm frond, applied in a simple curved and polished design. The pieces run from $2,360 to $10,840 and can be found in Chopard boutiques.
Over the years, the Scheufele’s have involved Chopard in many charitable activities in fields that include medicine, ecology, art, and culture. The company supports the José Carreras Leukemia Foundation, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and The Prince’s Foundation all dedicated to improving the well-being of others. The Scheufele family has also donated Chopard pieces as a symbol of their support of the Prince’s cause.