The Chopard brand traces its history to Louis-Ulysse Chopard, who established his workshop in Sonvilier, Switzerland in 1860. His watches were precise and reliable, and drew buyers from far away, in Scandinavia, Russia and Eastern Europe. His son followed in his footsteps, eventually moving the family firm to Geneva in 1937. By 1943, his grandson had taken over the family business. It was the grandson who sought a buyer for the brand in 1963 when his sons did not wish to lead the company.
At this time, Karl Scheufele decided to purchase the company. He was descended from a German dynasty of jewelers and watchmakers. Under the Scheufele family, the Chopard brand thrived. Remaining independent in the watchmaking industry, the family was able to introduce the company’s expansion for over 40 years. The children of Karl Scheufele have continued to manage the firm, and its excellence has continued. Chopard is known internationally for its high end jewelry and spectacularly innovative and dependable timepieces.
There are now several collections within the brand. One notable being the L.U.C. collection, which honors the founder by using his initials to name the brand. The L.U.C. collection includes the high end luxury timepieces of Chopard. They are the most refined, complex and exclusive watches the company produces and consistently some of the most awarded and acknowledged timepieces in the world.
Here are 10 of our favorite Chopard gems:
1. The 1976 Happy Diamonds
A Chopard designer was walking in the Black Forest when he was delighted by the way the daylight reflected on thousands of drops of water sparkling from it. The droplets allowed the sunshine to sparkle through, and rainbow colors bounced everywhere. Ronald Kurowski knew that this vision must be transferred into diamonds. He realized that unmounted diamonds would sparkle like the water drops, and this was the birth of the concept called Happy Diamonds.
Since that revelation in the 1970s, Chopard has used the concept repeatedly, but the very first watch created in 1976 is iconic. The first watch was made for men. It featured a case made from 18-carat white gold. The dial was black and framed with a bracelet which highlighted the first ever moving diamonds. The timepiece was shaped like a cushion, and it was large, with a generous strap. It won the Golden Rose of Baden-Baden that year, which was very prestigious indeed.
The watch was eventually designed for women. In all of the variants, there are any number of diamonds floating loose inside the watch case, and easily seen through the glass. Some feature watch faces with solid materials so that the diamonds are visible from the front, while others have completely clear cases so that the works and the diamonds are showcased together. In 2016, the Happy Diamonds Icons watches range in price from about $15,000 to $40,000 depending on the model. The 2016 models were produced to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Happy Diamonds timepieces.
2. The L.U.C. XP Urushi Goldfish
Urushi is a lacquering technique used in Japan. The Japanese Living National Treasure, Kiichior Masumura created the Goldfish dial using Maki-e and Urushi. The timepiece is a flawless blending of the Japanese and Swiss craftsmanship. The case and dial are 18-carat white gold, with a case thickness of 6.98 mm. The dial features the red goldfish, contained under a sapphire crystal glass which is scratch resistant and also glare proof. The case back is transparent as well. The mechanism is the self-winding L.U.C. Calibre 96.17-L. The strap is hand sewn of black alligator leather. The movement has 172 parts with 29 jewels. The movement bridges feature the Côtes de Genève. It is water resistant to 30 meters. The price for this timepiece is approximately $24,787 USD. It is part of the Legendary Creatures set in the Urushi Collection developed through a partnership with artist Masumura.
3. L.U.C. 1963 Chronograph
This timepiece was designed to pay tribute to the 50 years which the Scheufele family has headed the Chopard brand. It is a certified chronometer with a L.U.C. hand-wound Calibre 03.07-L movement. The goal of its creation was to link the finest of past watchmaking traditions with the present high quality features available in Chopard’s current pieces. It has a column wheel chronograph which is fully integrated, a flyback function, and several patented features. It carries the quality hallmark Poinçon de Genève, attesting to its prestigious construction. It is also officially COSC certified. The case and dial are of rose gold in 18 carats. The dial features a silver sunburst with Roman numerals in black. The front glass is glare proof and resistant to scratches, and made of sapphire crystal. It has a brown leather strap of alligator. It features 300 movement parts and 45 jewels. The current price is approximately $45,349 USD.
4. L’Heure Du Diamant
This spectacular watch won the 2013 Grand Prix d”Horlogerie de Geneve. Crafted with rose gold in 18 carats, it is set with 1,159 brilliant, navette or baguette cut diamonds. The L’Heure Du Diamant collection is the work of Caroline Scheufele, whose admiration for diamonds inspired her to create several of the finest timepieces adorned with them. The prices for the models in this collection of diamond studded watches is available upon request. But, the graceful, feminine lines of each provide Chopard craftsmanship combined with elegance. There are round and oval models available; each with different metals and dials. The quartz movements have 7 jewels, and each watch varies by total diamond weight based on the design.
5. L.U.C. 1860
The L.U.C. 1860 honors the year when Louis-Ulysse Chopard created his eponymous brand. The very first watch created in the L.U.C. collection was produced in 1996. It was a watch with superior chronometry utilizing all of the watchmaking traditions that Chopard have made the family company famous. It had the first in-house movement, with 4 Hz at 28,800 vph and a Calibre 96.01-L. The micro-rotor was 22-carat gold and wound automatically. It included two barrels so that the very thin watch could be sure of having power reserve for 65 hours. This was a remarkable achievement in such a thin watch case. In 2016, Chopard launched a new version in a limited production series of 250 pieces set with the price of $22, 181.45 USD.
6. L.U.C. Quattro
At the time in 2000 when the L.U.C. Quattro was introduced, it was designed with a superior power reserve. Its movement incorporated the L.U.C. 98.01-L. The twin spring barrels, serial operating, offered a long power reserve of nine days, which was an exception to the norm.
The newest model of this ground-breaking timepiece is offered in 18-carat rose gold for for $24,042 USD, though the company notes that models set with gems are subjective to market fluctuations. Chopard reserves the right to modify prices as necessary. There are several variations available with different metals, bands and face materials. The movement is housed within a 43 mm case and uses the L.U.C. Calibre 98.01-L. It is the world’s first movement to be hand-wound and also incorporate two sets of coupled barrels with springs measuring 47 cm. All of the finishing is completed by hand.
7. L.U.C. Triple Certification Tourbillon
What makes this rose gold 18 carat timepiece exceptional is that it is the world’s first to have simultaneous certifications of excellence:
• Chronometer certificate from the COSC
• The Fleurier Quality Foundation certificate
• The Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark
These three certifications guarantee that highest levels of performance and craftsmanship, and its origin of prestige. Its tourbillon movement has 224 parts with 33 jewels, inside a see-through sapphire crystal case. A Variner balance wheel, Phillips terminal curve balance spring, power reserve of 216 hours, and thin case of 11.15 mm all contribute to the exceptional quality of the watch. Price for this watch is available upon request.
8. Imperiale Joaillerie
Presented at Baselworld 2016, Imperiale Joaillerie is a masterpiece of jewelry and watchmaking. It took more than 1,000 hours to properly select the 581 sapphires which allow all the colors of the rainbow to shine in this timepiece. Each stone was cut and set so that the entire color spectrum was included. The entire watch, with its base of 18-carat rose gold, was meticulously set with the sapphires in baguette cut. The case, the dial and the bracelet are completely covered with the sapphires. Amethysts were used for the crown and the lug covers. An additional 1, 012 hours were used with the setting processes.
The movement is a Chopard 01.03-C caliber, and the timepiece beats a 4 Hertz, 28,800 vibrations per hour. The barrel has capacity for 60 hours of power reserve. The movement is self-winding. The price is available upon request.
9. Chronomètrie Ferdinand Berthoud
The first timepiece ever launched in history named after the legendary Ferdinand Berthoud, the FB1 is an homage to his talent. He earned the title of Master Clockmaker in 1753. He was born in the Neuchâtel canton, in Val-de-Travers, Switzerland. When he was 18, he moved to Paris so that he could study horology and the art of making clocks. The King of France named him maître when he was 26 years old, and that was the beginning of his famous work making marine chronometers of high caliber.
The Chopard timepiece honoring Berthoud is in the shape of an octagon. It is modern, complex and antique in presence, all at the same time. The octagonal design is reminiscent of ship portholes, and the movement contains a gimbal suspension system which is often used in marine chronometers. The timepiece movement and dial are contained in a waterproof case. Small lateral portholes along the sides allow for viewing the complexities of the movement inside. Complications include a constant force fusée-chain, an innovative power reserve, a tourbillon, a second hand which is driven directly and specific interior architecture which combines the best of traditional and modern technologies. No less than 1,120 interior components make up the mechanical works. There are nods to old world construction with the use of German silver, known as maillechort. The power reserve mechanism provides a notable 53 hours of power reserve.
The timepiece is a worthy, artistic and masterful creation. The FB1 was scheduled to be released in two, fifty piece limited editions. Each was priced at $244,553 USD.
10. L.U.C. Tourbillon QF Fairmined
Chopard presented this watch at the 2014 Baselworld watch fair. The watch represents Chopard’s work to transform the way artisanal gold miners live and work in South American mines. In agreement with the Alliance for Responsible Mining, Chopard is a leader in committing to creating sustainable luxury. The L.U.C. Tourbillon QF Fairmined is the handsome result. The watch is guaranteed to be made of gold which has been mined responsibly. This means that the fair payment for labor has been provided to the miners from Coodmilla cooperative in Nariño, Columbia. The watch is the only one in the world that can provide this guarantee.
The watch has a 43mm gold case featuring polished and satin-brushed contrasting surfaces. Its tourbillon movement is a L.U.C. 02.01-L 9-day, hand wound version. The dial is grey in color, with a sun ray motif. The 9-day power reserve indicator is located at 12 o’clock on the dial, while the small seconds counter is located at 6. The grey slate dial contrasts with the Dauphine ands, which are coated with luminescent gilding inspired by the 1930s. The watch’s case back is sapphire crystal so that the movement workings may be viewed. The Au 750 Fairmined gold certification is displayed there. The watch is Qualité Fleurier certified, which vouches for this chronometer’s precision and finishing.
Chopard limited this watch to 25 pieces. The approximate price for one was $144,570.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker