Beginnings and Heritage
The wonderful world of watchmaking that we find ourselves in is often famously filled to the brim with iconic brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and a litany of modern marvels that dominate the contemporary collector's discourse such as Richard Mille, Grand Seiko, and others. While these brands certainly have their merits, they fail to include a plethora of watchmakers that produce some of the most beautiful, elegantly designed, and fantastical timepieces that end up flying under the radar. One such watchmaker is Chopard, the family-owned jeweler and horology Maison. So, who are Chopard, do they make good watches, and where can you buy a Chopard watch? Let's dive into the brand and explore what they're all about.
Founded in 1860 as L.U.C. by Louis-Ulysse Chopard in the Swiss village of Sonviller, Chopard began its life manufacturing beautifully designed, and magnificently thin pocket watches. With its quick ascension, L.U.C. began to sell their timepieces throughout Europe and to royalty such as Tsar Nicholas III of Russia. In 1915, Louis-Ulysse Chopard passed away, and his business was passed down to his son and grandson Paul-Louis and grandson Paul-André, who moved the business to Chaux-de-Fonds six years later in 1921.
After WWII, the brand began to experience hardship that meant the business would either have to be sold or closed down permanently. But, as luck would have it, a German jeweler with a watchmaking business named Karl Scheufele was in the market for a Swiss movement maker much like Chopard. So, he met with Paul-Louis Chopard and purchased the business in a bid to continue developing his timepieces without the irregularities involved with relying on third-party manufacturers.
From there, Chopard has flourished as a truly remarkable watchmaker with an impressive track record of iconic watches in their arsenal. From their signature woman's watch, the Happy Diamonds, to their legendary chronograph, the Mille Miglia, or their higher watchmaking segment L.U.C., Chopard are one Swiss watchmaker that caters to just about every kind of buyer. This means that anyone can find a Chopard watch to suit them, their needs, and their style.
Released in 1976, the Happy Diamonds collection has grown to become Chopard's flagship jewelry-based ladies collection. Iconic for its use of floating diamonds sandwiched between two panes of sapphire crystal, the Happy Diamonds has grown into some of Chopard's jewelry offerings such as earrings, necklaces, and rings. It has even been spun off into a sports collection called the Happy Sports, in which the case material used is stainless steel, an unusual decision given the Happy Diamond's exuberant aesthetic.
Released in 1988, the Mille Miglia collection traces its origins as far back as the 1920s when professional car racing was in its infancy. The Mille Miglia itself is an Italian 1000-mile endurance car race from Brescia to Rome and back that began in 1927 and abruptly ended in 1957 due to a tragic accident in which nine spectators, a driver, and his navigator all lost their lives. Following a 25-year hiatus, the race came back in 1982 as a time trial rally in which only cars that were eligible during the original series of races could take part.
In 1988 Chopard successfully became the Mille Miglia's sponsor and released their eponymous collection of chronograph timepieces. The Mille Miglia collection has since successfully managed to intertwine the two entities' D.N.A. in ways that few other partnerships have been able to replicate. This expansion of the collection's market has been the key to successfully integrating the event within Chopard's D.N.A. as the name Mille Miglia now carries equal weight for car enthusiasts and watch collectors alike.
Launched in 1996, the L.U.C. (named after Chopard's founder) was set up to commemorate Chopard's heritage as a high-precision movement manufacturer. Perhaps the ultimate expression of Chopard's watchmaking prowess, watches created by L.U.C. include some of the best movements to come from Switzerland. The processes within these movements include delicate hand finishing, careful assembly, rigorous testing, and casing. In 2004 Chopard and Parmigiani Fleurier even joined together to create a certification to attest that 100% of a watch head was made in Switzerland, an attempt to combat the Swiss Government's lackluster definition of "Swiss Made."
With impressive heritage as movement makers and their proven ability to create timepieces that span from jewelry-orientated watches to sports watches and even high-horology, Chopard has earned a reputation as a watchmaker with some superb pieces under their belt. As such, anyone could have their needs met by a Chopard watch, thanks to their impressive ability to deliver so many kinds of watches.
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