3. Chopard’s R&D Unit, Chopard Technologies, has introduced several patented watchmaking innovations since 2005. This 14-person operation headquartered at Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier is responsible for driving the creation of new concepts and technologies for future Chopard watches. Among its recent accomplishments is the Chopard Caliber L.U.C 01.06-L — the first-ever movement with a high-frequency escapement to be chronometer-certified by COSC — which made its debut in the Chopard LUC 8HF watch, presented at Baselworld 2012. The escapement in the L.U.C 01.06-L movement beats at a frequency of 8 Hz (57,600 vph), compared to 4 Hz in most traditional mechanical movements. A higher number of vibrations for the balance makes the movement less susceptible to disturbances and thus, more reliable. It also, naturally, requires more energy, an issue Chopard’s engineers dealt with by including a 60-hour power reserve from a single barrel. The Chopard L.U.C 8HF is also notable for the lightweight materials used, including titanium from a monobloc for the case and silicon for escapement components such as the impulse pin, lever, and escape wheel. Chopard also has a patent pending on another new technology used in the watch to fix silicon onto steel.
4. Fleurier Ébauches, the factory dedicated to industrial production of movements, creates six different calibers for three Chopard collections. Located right down the street from its sister facility, at rue des Moulins 24, Fleurier Ébauches SA carries on the name of the firm that became Chopard Manufacture and represents another step in Scheufele’s plans to increase Chopard’s vertical integration. Chopard bought the property fairly recently, in 2007, and began production in 2009. By 2012, the factory was cranking out 5,000 mechanical movements per year, a number that Chopard says will hit 15,000 per year in 2015. The workforce, 38 people in 2012, is set to expand to 60 by 2015.
The newer factory, which has 5,100 square meters of floor space and many more CNC machines and automated processes than the more hands-on Chopard Manufacture, integrates four production stages: machining, decoration, jewel-fitting and assembly. Machining starts with the brass baseplates and bridges and other parts made of steel, followed by the decoration stage, in which computer-aided machines perform surface finishes such as circular graining, côtes de Genève, and rhodium plating. There are also machines capable of performing fully automated jewel-mounting for Chopard’s haute joallerie watches and jewelry. Even the painstaking process of movement assembly, which takes place on the top floor, is controlled by a computer-aided system that automatically directs each movement to the proper production line.