Founded by Louis-Ulysse Chopard in 1860 at a tender age of 24, the maison of Chopard was conceived by the artisan watchmaker as a purveyor of fine chronometers and pocket watches.
The son of a farmer from Sonvilier placed precision and reliability above all else, and whose innovative designs helped amass a legion of following among noble members of Europe’s royal courts. His reputation for creating superb timekeepers travelled with him from Switzerland, to central and eastern Europe, and onto Scandinavia. Among his royal patrons was Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
Nearly two centuries on, now firmly in the hands of the Scheufele family, Chopard continues to live and breathe the pursuit of excellence perpetuated by the founder. Under the guidance of siblings Karl- Friedrich and Caroline Scheufele, who respectively spearhead the watchmaking and the jewellery-making divisions, Chopard is revered for the complete mastery of both art forms. Few maisons are home to such extensive savoir-faire.
Nowhere is more apparent than in Chopard’s range of ladies’ watches where some of the best movements in the industry are married to the most exquisite gemstones ever crystallised on the planet. That and with its steadfast pledge to sustainable and ethical luxury truly set Chopard apart from the rest. It is also the basis for the Happy Sport Joaillerie watches.
Born in 1993 as the first ladies’ watch combining steel and dancing diamonds, the Happy Sport was Caroline’s brainchild to embody vivacity. It briskly gained traction among ladies who were hitherto deprived of a watch equal part sporty, elegant and whimsical. While over the years, the Happy Sport has evolved to encompass more materials and shapes, the dancing diamonds remain the raison d’être.
Although this year’s Happy Sport is no exception, it holds one additional surprise. Reinvented in two jewellery versions, the watches showcase seven “happy” diamonds by means of a prong setting, giving them a lighter and more luminous effect. Traditionally, these dancing diamonds are held within gold capsules with a spinning-top like base, thus enabling them to turn without tipping over. With the new prong setting, the dancing diamonds are more exposed than ever before, secured only by five prongs on the sides. The end result is that light can penetrate further into the diamonds, baring a greater number of facets and thus ensuring their radiance is amplified.
At 36mm, the jazzed up Happy Sport is petite yet larger than life thanks to a bezel entirely paved with brilliant-cut diamonds. The same prong gem-setting technique is also used for the diamonds set on the bezel and the hour markers, creating a rich and graceful visual. The dial, which stages the dancing diamonds, is made of mother-of-pearl. It is meticulously engraved with a guilloché motif, affirming Chopard’s attention to detail and validating excellent technique is key to exquisite aesthetics. Be it the 18k white gold or the 18k rose gold variant, Chopard reassures that it is of ethical gold.
Being one of a handful of vertically integrated manufactures, Chopard goes through great lengths to enable that every step of its processes can be accounted for. Since 2018, the maison has achieved a 100% ethical gold supply chain – a rarity anywhere.
Partnering with the Swiss Better Gold Association in its latest effort, going forward, Chopard has committed to sourcing from the Barequeros in El Choco, Colombia, the South American country’s second-largest gold producing region but also one of its poorest. Just as symbolically, these miners work on an artisanal level, of which 46% of them are women. Their traditional alluvial mining methods use no mercury and safeguard the region’s biodiversity.
For diamonds, Chopard supports and follows the principles for transparency stipulated by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the World Diamond Council System of Warranties. Suppliers are required to refrain from buying or selling conflict diamonds, diamonds from suspect or unknown sources as well as diamonds from countries and regions that have not implemented the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
Many a time high-jewellery watches are fitted with a basic quartz movement. With the Happy Sport Joaillerie, you don’t have to forgo one for another. Chopard deserves plaudits for equipping the Happy Sport Joaillerie with an automatic mechanical movement. Not just any movement, the Chopard 96.17-C calibre beats at an industry standard of 4Hz and runs on a respectable 65 hours of power reserve. It means that you can wear it, take it off for another day or two, before picking it up again without the minor inconvenience of having to wind it up. Sometimes, a simple matter makes all the difference. That and knowing the watch which you set your heart on improves the lives of the people who helped make it fabulous.
(Images by Chopard)
This story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia’s September 2020 issue.