In the business of timepieces since 1860, Chopard is one of the last family-owned and run companies of its kind. To celebrate its latest release, Vogue Arabia joins co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele for a special conversation.
One of the few companies where an employee can actually speak with the owner of the company, Chopard started off as a pure watchmaking brand back in 1860 in the Swiss Jura mountains, and in 1937, it moved to Geneva, where it has been located ever since. “My family took over Chopard, in 1963. And when my family took over, we also introduced more of a jewelry aspect to the brand by making jewelry watches. And it was only by 1985 that we started making jewelry. Basically, jewelry is very young at Chopard,” says Scheufele. “Having the great advantage to master both savoir-faire and practicality, Chopard masters the art of watch makingThe Best New Men’s Timepieces and Watches & Wonders 2021 Releases from A to Z and, jewelry making from design to the finished product.”
The involvement of the Scheufele family in Chopard activities have helped form and shape its DNA. “The quality is one of the most important things for us—most important values for us, but also authenticity and design which lasts… plus, we encourage everyone in our company to be creative,” says Scheufele. Below, snippets of a conversation between Vogue Arabia’s Jeannine Yazbeck and Karl-Friedrich Scheufele.
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There was a time when you, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele convinced your father to work on the St. Moritz watch. And now, a few years later, your son has encouraged you to reinvent the same timepiece. How did that happen?
You know, I don’t know how he discovered the St. Moritz watch. I think one day, [he spotted it] on my desk, because we were rearranging the museum and I was talking to someone about this watch. And he said, “This watch is cool and we really need to reinvent it” and so on and so forth. I said, “Come on. We have so many different collections already and I’m not sure if we need one more.” But he wouldn’t give up. he convinced me by not giving up, and making his point, making his case. And then engaging with my father. Together, they were working on me. My father also said, “You know there are clients that still ask for the St. Moritz. They still remember this watch and we should really do it again.” And then, I had pressure from both sides you know?
But how did you work, all three generations together? Who added what?
We worked together on this design. I could say that out of the three generations, I’m probably the one who’s the most interested in the details and intricacies of the design. So I took their opinions and integrated them into the design.”
Your son is about 22 years old. What element did he as the youngest generation add?
We had a big argument about the finish of the watch because personally, I prefer the brushed finish of the bezel. My father is what you would call old school, and he prefers polished surfaces. And he said, “I don’t like this, it’s not polished” and so on… And then we ended up two against one. My son obviously likes the brushed effect, because it’s more contemporary. It was a constant brainstorming session.
Why did you call it Alpine Eagle?
You know we had different names on the table. We had our marketing team looking for a name.
Why not St. Moritz Version 2019?
There was one name that I put forward, which was this name. But unfortunately St. Moritz is the name of a ski resort and in the meantime they made they had made an agreement with some other company. I said, “Okay I really want something to do with the mountains, and I will find something else.” And I was walking in winter in the mountains in Gstaad, and I was looking up and I saw this incredible alpine eagle flying over my head. And I thought, “Oh wow, this is something interesting, because the eagle flies all over the mountains.”
And it’s free.
Yes, so it’s all about mountains. It’s freedom, its majestic, it’s a beautiful animal… so I said, “I think we should call it Alpine Eagle.”
And Alpine eagle was born.
Yeah, but then the team said no, we need to think about other names. We put the names forward and within our family, I mean my three children, they all decided that Alpine Eagle would be best. And then I said okay. If the majority likes Alpine Eagle, we go for it. And now nobody even asks the question, it seems so natural.
Exactly, and nature is at the at the heart of Alpine Eagle. Can’t we say it’s an avant-garde inspiration with all the words coming back to nature, back to sustainability…
The most important aspect about the name is the sustainability aspect, or the fact that Alpline aagle is the ambassador for the sustainability. The bracelet is made of 75% recycled steel.
Which is amazing.
Which is a first. So we really try to do everything we can within this watch to work sustainably.
And you have your own savoir faire.
Now I’m looking at a movement, where most of the parts are made of recycled materials. We’re not stopping here, we’re going further.
We’ve just started.
It’s the beginning yeah.
In an era where people can rely on phones and apps to keep up with the time, what does a legacy in a brand like Chopard bring to the table?
As we are concerned about sustainability and tradition of craftsmanship in our company, we have apprentices constantly learning the trade. They learn how to be a watchmaker, and jeweler, and other trades, and I think this is really the legacy that we want to leave behind, because I think of course every company should make a profit, because otherwise we won’t exist, but I think it’s important to think over and above that, and to think, “What what will people remember you for?”
Who is the Chopard man? These watches are for men, which man?
The Chopard man is the independently thinking person. He’s free and he’s not a sheep. He’s an eagle that flies above things.
What first inspired you to work? Where does most of your inspiration come from? Nature? People? Travel? Art?
It’s always a combination of things. I would rather say the place where inspiration is least likely to come is not in the office. In the office, it’s more about problem solving, more about daily operations and things. And I have to get away from that too. So traveling is one of the sources for me. Sometimes I keep on thinking about something I didn’t even notice, and all of a sudden when I travel… this is it!
How important is the heritage and DNA of a brand, knowing that we are in an era of technology?
The technology, for me remains and should remain a tool. A tool for better living, but for me it’s not something in itself. It’s not something that I admire.
You would not do a connected watch?
The beauty of these watches is the fact that it’s the only not connected item you have on you, it’s freedom. You know?
What is your personal favorite Chopard watch?
One of my favorites now that the watch exists is Alpine Eagle, but also the L.U.C. You see, without L.U.C we would not have our own movement in the Alpine Eagle.
C’est le premier bebe (this is the first baby).
It was the first baby, yes.
How many times do you check your watch per day?
How many times? Mostly because I like to look at it, quite a lot!
What’s the best time of the day for you?
I can’t decide between early morning, when everything seems to be possible, because it’s a new beginning, or after work when I can reflect on the day. It’s either-or.
Which hand do you wear your watch on, and why?
My left, because I’m left-handed and that’s it.
When you meet people, do you always notice their watch?
I have this terrible habit of looking at people’s watches yes. I try to look them in the eyes but then I probably look at the watch.