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Chopard's evolution of time

Audrey Simon
Audrey Simon • 11 min read
Chopard's evolution of time
Chopard's evolution of time
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Chopard president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele unveils the 25th anniversary of the L.U.C collection and the launch of the award-winning Chronomètre FB 3SPC. He traces each collection's path to get to where it is today

Just before his trip to Singapore late last year, the President of Chopard, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, was awarded the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horologie de Geneve (GPHG) in the Mechanical Exception Watch Prize for Ferdinand Berthoud, Chronomètre FB 3SPC. He has received an award among the many, yet he still describes the feeling as humbling.

He acknowledges: “This is not the first time [for us], and every time, it is still exciting and an encouragement to do even better. I wasn't expecting this as some very interesting watches competed.” He adds that he is flattered and honoured but attributes the success to his team. “What I feel really good about is that the team is part of this,” he adds. Scheufele likens this to the work of an orchestra conductor, “I'm kind of like the conductor of an orchestra. If you don't have the right members and the right spirit in a team, you can't make it work.”

Teamwork makes the dream work, as 2022 marked the 25th anniversary of the L.U.C collection. To commemorate the occasion, Chopard launches three new chiming watches that have undergone some adjustments and analysis by Scheufele, along with virtuoso cellist and violinist Gautier and Renaud Capuçon. The two brothers are brilliant musicians who have instilled their sensitivity, nuance and emotion into the acoustic fine-tuning of the L.U.C Strike One, L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire and L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon models. All the steps involved in crafting L.U.C (named after founder Louis-Ulysee Chopard) watches are performed at Chopard's Geneva and Fleurier workshops.

The transparent timepiece features a minute repeater with gongs of the L.U.C 08.01-L chronometer-certified calibre; the entire case, crown and dial of the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire model are cut from blocks of sapphire. Measuring 42.5 mm in diameter and transparent, it offers a 360-degree view of a movement with exceptional finishes. The Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark was awarded to a non-metallic timepiece and endorsed by the Capuçon brothers.

The L.U.C. has come a long way, and we asked what the founder Louis-Ulysee Chopard would say. Scheufele replies: “I guess he would have been very happy to see what we did because the idea was to continue the real watchmaking side. There was a point when companies would no longer consider making movements, which you need to do to succeed.”

He admits that it was one of those ideas he was toying with in the 1990s. He told his family that they needed to invest heavily in making movements. It had become clear to Scheufele that to endow Chopard with the most significant legitimacy as a watchmaker, he had to transform it into a manufacturer producing its movements.

In the 1980s, Swiss watchmaking had only just recovered from the Quartz Crisis, and at the beginning of the ’90s, proper manufacturers who created their calibres were still very few and far between. Scheufele saw that becoming an actual manufacturer was the only way for Chopard to have true independence as a watchmaker. He says: “To be the masters of our destiny”.

He knew that the very first movement he created would symbolise his ambitions for the L.U.C collection and its intention to contribute to watchmaking’s rich canon. But even the loftiest of dreamers could not have predicted the true horological grandeur of what Chopard’s Co-President would unveil to the world in 1996. He says, “What you see with L.U.C back in 1996 when we started with the manufacturer, it was my conviction that we needed to be independent and authentic. To decide on our future, the only way to do this was to become a manufacturer in movement making.”

See also: Watches and Wonders 2024: Horological highlights

Due to his bold move, we are here viewing the collection, the first-minute repeater watch whose case is made entirely of corundum crystal or sapphire. By merging container and content, musical expression and transparency, Chopard has created a veritable horological musical instrument.

Following 25 years of Chopard’s L.U.C launch, a repertoire of calibres has covered almost all existing horological complications. Twenty-two registered patents testify to this continuous quest for innovation and improvement. The feats achieved include an ultra-thin self-winding micro-rotor movement; several references with very long power reserves; an integrated self-winding chronograph with a flyback function; a high-frequency movement; a tourbillon and an ultra-thin flying tourbillon; a perpetual calendar with a large date and astronomical moon phases; a world time: a chime-in-passing mechanism; a minute repeater; and multiple combinations of these complications.

The revival
When Scheufele was browsing in the L.U.C.EUM watchmaking museum, he discovered the watchmaker Ferdinand Berthoud and was fascinated by his history that he acquired the brand in 2006 and named it Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, and it was officially launched in 2015.

He recalls: “With researching L.U.C, I came across Ferdinand Berthoud, then this became a challenge on whether I wanted to take this up. This was where I could go the well-trodden path and experiment with things I probably would not have done otherwise. Technically speaking, pick up inspiration from a 250-year-old history of watchmaking and interpret it in today's wristwatch. I think that that was a great challenge.”

With the launch of the Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, Scheufele feels like he has reached the end of a journey on a high. He quickly adds: “Every peak has another peak; it's all about you discovering new heights every time.” Is he planning for the next high? He replies by saying there are still things to do and perhaps add additional functions.

Scheufele’s visit to Singapore also introduced the media to the latest addition, the Chronomètre FB 3SPC. The timepiece is powered by a mechanical movement featuring a novel construction and a cylindrical balance spring; this timepiece approaches the core theme of precision from a new angle. It took two years to perfect the adjustments of the regulating organ before obtaining official "chronometer" certification (ISO 3159 standard): A first for such a movement. This new FB 3 collection draws its stylistic, technical and aesthetic inspiration from a rare and exceptional creation: the No. 26 decimal watch.

Originating from the workshop founded by Ferdinand Berthoud in Paris after being awarded his “maîtrise” (master of horology title) in 1753, his nephew, Louis Berthoud, signs this creation. It is the symbol of a revival in this post-revolutionary period, during which marine chronometers — measuring instruments intended for naval use in the 18th century — paved the way for watchmaking of very high quality, pare-down and firmly rooted in the 19th century and its civil applications.

His other pursuits
As part of the Chopard Manufacture’s 25th anniversary, the maison paid Scheufele a glowing tribute by calling him The Consummate Gentleman. The tribute states: A man of many talents, Chopard’s Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele exudes a quiet thoughtfulness that is belied by his accomplishments in various fields, especially watchmaking. On the occasion of Chopard Manufacture’s 25th anniversary, the Maison pays tribute to the man whose visionary leadership continues to connect the past, present and future of horology.

Even his son Karl-Fritz weighed in on it by saying: “There are many qualities I admire in my father, but this is the one I love best. That he is always quiet about his accomplishments. I learned from him to let your work speak for itself. It’s only when there are important issues, such as the introduction of ethics into luxury as expressed by our use of ethical gold or recycled steel for the Alpine Eagle watches, that he insists on speaking out.”

Apart from his passion for watchmaking, the soft-spoken, understated and somewhat enigmatic man is a race car driver and has participated in every 1000 Miglia since 1987. When not racing, he has a passion for wines and spirits and has opened several boutiques under the Caveau de Bacchus trademark in Geneva, Lausanne and Gstaad, becoming the exclusive distributor in French-speaking Switzerland of the highly sought-after Domaine Romanée Conti as well as the official Château Lafleur ambassador for French-speaking Switzerland.

Celebrating good times

See also: Legacy celebrated

To mark the 25th anniversary of the L.U.C collection, Chopard debuts the L.U.C Strike One, L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire and L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon models

L.U.C Strike One
The watch chimes at the passing of each hour on a Chopard-patented monobloc sapphire of which the acoustics have received the artistic endorsement of virtuosos Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, who have acknowledged all its emotional depth. Equipped with the new L.U.C 96.32-L movement, this refined 40 mm-diameter timepiece in ethical 18-carat rose gold is chronometer-certified and bears the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark. Its solid gold ruthenium grey dial is hand-guilloché with a honeycomb motif. With its crown-integrated pusher, its slender 9.86 mm size and its crystal-clear sound, the L.U.C Strike One model endow the passing of time with an elegantly resonant dimension.

L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire
By merging container and content, musical expression and transparency, Chopard has created a veritable horological musical instrument. Thanks to the homogeneity of the material — which is present throughout the sound propagation chain — this five-piece limited series gets the very best from sapphire.
The 42.5 mm diameter case is 11.55 mm thick, with well-balanced proportions identical to previous versions of the L.U.C Full Strike, which contribute to the characteristic elegance of the L.U.C collection. The bezel, caseband, crown, back, and rear glass are all sapphire crystals. This rare model, whose absolute transparency enables the wearer to become one with the timepiece, has been created by specialised artisans mastering all the requirements of sapphire technology, from powder to finished components. The manufacturing process follows strict sustainable development rules, from the energy consumed in the production of corundum crystal through to transport.

L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon
This tourbillon model comes with a sapphire bridge to the monobloc sapphire minute repeater inherent to the L.U.C Full Strike series. This 42.5 mm timepiece in ethical 18-carat rose gold is equipped with the new chronometer-certified L.U.C 08.02-L movement. The highly accomplished level of finishing, both on the movement and the case, has earned it the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark. Its dial, in ruthenium grey-coloured hand-guilloché, rose gold, reveals the two complications that make this 20-piece limited edition so sophisticated. Endorsed by virtuoso brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, its acoustic richness achieves an exceptional level of quality, while perfect homogeneity makes it an exceptional timepiece combining a stunning conceptual challenge with supremely accomplished execution.

Chronomètre FB 3SPC
Presenting the Chronomètre FB 3SPC that won the Grand Prix d’Horologie de Geneve (GPHG) in the Mechanical Exception Watch Prize for Ferdinand Berthoud. Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud unveils the third pillar of its collections that is powered by a mechanical movement featuring a novel construction and a cylindrical balance spring; this timepiece approaches the core theme of precision from a new angle. It took two years to perfect the adjustments of the regulating organ before obtaining official "chronometer" certification (ISO 3159 standard): a first for such a movement. This new FB 3 collection draws its stylistic, technical and aesthetic inspiration from a rare and exceptional creation: the No. 26 decimal watch.

Originating from the workshop founded by Ferdinand Berthoud in Paris after being awarded his “maîtrise” (master of horology title) in 1753, this creation is signed by his nephew, Louis Berthoud. It is the symbol of a revival in this post-revolutionary period, during which marine chronometers – measuring instruments intended for naval use in the 18th century – paved the way for watchmaking of very high quality, pare-down and firmly rooted in the 19th century and its civil applications. The Chronomètre FB 3SPC reflects this historical and horological transition.

The Chronomètre FB 3SPC explores another chronometric issue, which was the subject of the most abundant and fruitful research during the 18th-century golden age of watchmaking: the balance spring. However, these experiments were poorly documented, and it was thus, in the absence of specialised literature, that Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud set about creating the new Calibre FB-SPC.

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