Jewellery and watchmaking icon Chopard is much more than just the things it creates. Over the course of time, Chopard has become a collection of superb watch crafters, immaculate design work, and a visionary in the industry. When we talk about its watchmaking, it goes without saying that its designs are exquisite. Being known for precision and rich traditions is one thing, but to actually hold on to these qualities and carry forward them into time is a whole other concept.
The Maison has grown manyfold over the period of years to establish itself as a highly prominent figure in global Haute Horlgoetrie as well as jewellery making. Let’s take a look at the history of Chopard and get some insight into what the brand truly represents.
The Birth of Louis-Ulysse Chopard
If founders are attributed with the responsibility of beginning of a brand, then the birth of the founder becomes a sort of a big deal. Louis-Ulysse Chopard, the founding father of the Swiss watchmaking icon Chopard was born on 4th May 1836 in the small Swiss town called Sonvilier.
Like it happens in most cases, his father persuaded him to learn watchmaking at a very young age. In 1860 (at the age of 24) he started his own company, the L.U.C watch manufactory. The company focused on making precision watches with exquisite decoration. Pretty soon, these timepieces received the appreciation of customers spanning across all Europe. The last ruler of Russia, Tzar Nicolas II was also a huge admirer of Chopard watches.
After the passing of Louis-Ulysse Chopard in 1915, the business was spearheaded by his son Paul-Louis Chopard and his grandson Paul-André. They carried on with the torch that their grandfather lit The duo went on to create some of the most elegant pocket chronometers and jewelled ladies’ timepieces ever documented.
By the 1920s, Art Deco had become a mainstream form of art and Chopard did not delay in adopting this style. In the year 1937, as business expanded, the brand relocated to Geneva, Switzerland, the European watchmaking capital.
Putting a Price on Heritage – Selling Chopard to Karl Scheufele III
The World War was not just detrimental to human values, it was also the toll on the global economy. Chopard, like many other companies, bore the brunt of the global catastrophe. The company could not survive and had to be sold to Karl Scheufele III.
Coming from a reputable watch family himself, Karl was a watchmaker by profession. The legacy of the Scheufele family began in 1904 when Karl’s grandfather, Karl Scheufele I opened up his own business. He learnt the craft at an early age and when he saw the opportunity, he opened up this business by the name ‘Eszeha’. He made watches and jewellery which started to get international attention.
Karl Scheufele I passed away in the year 1941 and the responsibility of Eszeha was given to his son, Karl Scheufele II. Under Karl II’s guidance, Eszeha continued its journey to the top. These reins were soon given in the hands of the next generation, Karl Scheufele III.
A New Beginning for Chopard
In 1963, Chopard found itself under a new leader as Karl Scheufele III bought it. Under new leadership, Chopard started to flourish as a watch and jewellery brand. 1972 marked the emergence of the Chopard look we know of today. the design drew inspiration from elements of Art Nouveau as well as Art Deco. Karl Scheufele III and his wife together orchestrated the brand’s multinational expansion for multiple decades.
Their children are Chopard’s current co-presidents, Caroline Scheufele and Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. Chopard’s headquarter is still in Geneva. They also have a site in Fleurier, a canton of Neuchâtel established in 1996. At that location, Chopard manufactures high-end watch movements used for their L.U.C collection, a series of really amazing timepieces named after the brand’s founder.
Chopard: Present Day
Upon joining the company, Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele, daughter of Karl Scheufele III, became the artistic manager of the Haute Joaillerie sector for Chopard. Her first design, which later became quite a phenomenon, Happy Diamonds Clown was an immediate hit. The adorable jewelled clown with a belly full of coloured stones became sort of a mascot for Chopard. Partnering with Cannes Film Festival in 1998 ensured that her creations are given global visibility by actors and film personalities.
Over the years, Chopard won two extremely prestigious commissions in a quick fashion, becoming the official provider of watches for the Swiss Railway Company. Louis-Ulysse Chopard, the founder of the brand himself travelled to Russia, making his way through Poland and Hungary. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was one of his many famous clients. He also did business with numerous Scandinavian retailers who ended up self-branding the Chopard watch. It didn’t take much time for Chopard timepieces to penetrate the international market.
Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Caroline’s brother, took charge of the watchmaking division of Chopard. He combined elements of watchmaking and cars, his true passions and created numerous wonderful sports watches such namely, St. Moritz, Monte Carlo, and of course, the 1000 Miglia. Over the course of years, the watchmaker has developed a business partnership with the organizers of the iconic 1000 Miglia race as well.