The Chopard Manufacture turns 20 this year, and Chopard North America marked the occasion with an anniversary party for a select group of WatchTime readers at the Chopard boutique in Houston’s River Oaks district on September 20. Ralph Simons, president of Chopard North America, hosted the event, in which 40 guests enjoyed wines, Old Fashioned cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres.
Chopard’s special 20th Anniversary L.U.C. Collection, specially flown in from Switzerland, was on display. The 20-piece collection consists of highlights of the Manufacture’s L.U.C. watches produced over the past two decades.
As it was in last week’s Chopard anniversary gala in Miami’s Bal Harbour Shops, the highlight of the collection was the Chopard L.U.C. 150 “All-in-One” watch, which the company calls its “crown jewel.” The most complicated watch Chopard has ever produced, with a total of 14 complications, it was created in 2010 to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of Chopard by Louis-Ulysse Chopard in 1860 in the Swiss Jura Mountain watchmaking region.
The L.U.C. “All in One” is a perpetual calendar with a tourbillon, equation of time indication, sunrise and sunset times calculated for Geneva, and other complications. Its movement has 516 components; it takes a Chopard master watchmaker 11 days to assemble the movement alone. Chopard filed five patents for the movement. The watch is a limited-edition of 15 pieces, priced just under $400,000.
Guests had the opportunity to view and try on the All-in-One, along with other notable pieces in the collection, like the L.U.C. Triple Certification Tourbillon and the L.U.C. 8HF Power Control. The Triple Certification Tourbillon is the world’s first timepiece to earn certifications from all three of Switzerland’s independent watch testing agencies: COSC, the Geneva Seal, and the Fleurier Quality Foundation. The HF Power Control is Chopard’s second watch to contain the L.U.C. Caliber 01.09-L with a frequency of 8 Hertz (57,600 vibrations per hour). They are first 8-Hertz watches to be certified as COSC chronometers.
As he did at the Miami event, WatchTime Editor-at-Large Joe Thompson gave a special presentation on the history of Chopard from his perspective as a veteran watch journalist. Thompson, who has covered the global watch industry since 1977, said that he remembered well the surprising news in 1996 that Chopard, whose primary identity was as the producer of Happy Diamonds ladies’ jewelry and watches, had produced an in-house automatic movement.
Thompson’s talk recalled the origins of the Chopard Manufacture, which was the brainchild of Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, now co-president of Chopard, along with his sister Caroline. Scheufele was five-years-old when his father, Karl Scheufele, acquired Chopard in 1963. In the 1980s, after joining the family business, Karl-Friedrich pushed to have the firm return to its roots and resume making mechanical movements in-house, as it had for most of its history — despite the fact that the mechanical watch at that time was “on death’s doorstep,” Thompson said. Ultimately Scheufele Junior persuaded his father to let him oversee the development of the Manufacture. Scheufele gambled that the mechanical watch had a future, Thompson pointed out, and history has proved him right. Last year Switzerland’s watch exports amounted to 21.5 billion Swiss francs, with 80 percent of that revenue coming from mechanical watches.
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