The Chopard Manufacture turns 20 in 2016 and Chopard North America marked the occasion with an anniversary party for a select group of WatchTime readers at the Chopard boutique in the upscale Bal Harbour Shops in Bal Harbour, FL on Sept. 15. Ralph Simons, president of Chopard North America, and his team welcomed the guests, who were treated to Champagne, chardonnay, and canapés.
For the occasion, Chopard arranged to have the firm’s special 20th Anniversary L.U.C. Collection flown in from Switzerland. The 20-piece collection consists of highlights of the Manufacture’s L.U.C. watches produced over the past two decades.
The star of the show was the L.U.C. 150 “All-in-One” watch, which Chopard calls the “crown jewel” of the Manufacture. It is the most complicated watch Chopard has ever produced; it has 14 complications. The watch was created in 2010 to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of Chopard by Louis-Ulysse Chopard in 1860 in the village of Sonvilier, Switzerland, in the heart of the 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. It is a limited-edition of 15 pieces and sells for just under $400,000.
Guests got to experience the All-in-One and other special 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. (Every L.U.C. caliber is certified by COSC, including all tourbillons. Some pieces get an additional certification, either the Geneva Seal or FQF.)
Another highlight of the evening was a presentation by WatchTime Editor-at-Large Joe Thompson. Simons asked Thompson to make some observation about the Chopard Manufacture from the perspective of a veteran watch reporter. 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 told the story of the origins of the Manufacture. It 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 the 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. He made the proposal 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 said. History has proved him right. Last year Switzerland’s watch exports amounted to 21.5 billion Swiss francs. Eighty percent of that revenue comes from mechanical watches.