Most impressively, within its first three years of operation, Fleurier Ébauches has developed six new movements based on two new base calibers with two types of finishing. Three are used in Chopard’s auto-racing-inspired Superfast collection: Caliber 01.0-M (hours, minutes, central seconds, date), 01.02-M (hours, minutes, central seconds, date, power-reserve indicator), and 03.05-M (hours, minutes, small seconds, date, flyback chronograph). All of these have an openworked-bridges finish. Caliber 01.04-C, with hours, minutes, small seconds, and date, is used in the Classic collection, and Caliber 01.01-C (hours, minutes, central seconds, date) and 01.03-C (hours and minutes only) are used in the Imperiale collection. The latter three have a sunburst finish. Fleurier Ébauches also devotes a wing of the facility to a learning center for eight apprentice watchmaker-repairers, as well as any of the Chopard Group’s other employees who come for horological training, and an after-sales service center.
Of course, Chopard’s jewelry pieces (in addition to its high-jewelry watches) are also produced here. And in an interesting bit of trivia, the famous Palme d’Or trophy for the Cannes Film Festival, of which Chopard is a longtime sponsor, also has its origin in these workshops in Fleurier.
5. Chopard draws inspiration from the private collection of timepieces in its private museum, called the L.U.Ceum. Those who still see Chopard primarily as a jewelry brand that makes watches might be surprised to realize that not only was the company’s founder a watchmaker, but its current owners are avid enthusiasts and collectors of timepieces. The Scheufele family’s private collection of watches and clocks, which includes not only early watches by Louis-Ulysse Chopard, but many other significant vintage and modern pieces, is housed in the so-called L.U.Ceum at Chopard Manufacture. Particularly well represented are pieces by Ferdinand Berthoud and his nephew Pierre-Louis Berthoud, important watchmakers of the 18th century and contemporaries of Abraham-Louis Breguet.
6. Chopard is one of only a handful of watch and jewelry companies with its own in-house gold foundry. The foundry, located in Meyrin, produces several proprietary alloys, the composition of which Chopard keeps a closely guarded secret. My tour group had the rare treat of witnessing the process wherein heavy bars of gold are melted at extremely high temperatures and poured into molds, from which 8-kg bars emerge and are then subsequently pressed by another machine into the thinner pieces that are then sent off for stamping into watch cases and jewelry. The stamped pieces then proceed to the casing department for refining, beveling, etc. before the final polishing stage.