Chopard is a Paris-based luxury watch, jewelry, and accessories company founded in 1860 by Louis-Ulysse Chopard at the age of 24. Chopard initially concentrated on developing precise pocket watches and chronometers based upon innovative ideas. Chopard is regarded as a manufacture, in other words that they make many of their watches and movements in-house rather than using the base movements (ebauches) of other manufacturers. Chopard, which also has production facilities in Fleurier, is one of four participating brands in the Fleurier Quality Foundation (together with Bovet, Parmigiani and Vaucher), which certifies a very high level of quality to manufactured watches (www.fleurier-quality.com). The "Qualité Fleurier" standard is meant to compete with the Geneva standards such as the exclusive Geneva Seal manufacturing standard.
In 1920 Chopard relocated to Geneva and launched into the production of quality watches.
In 1963 the Chopard Company was taken over by the young goldsmith and watchmaker Karl Scheufele, after Paul-Andre Chopard, the last master watchmaker who maintained the horological roots of the family, was forced to give up the business since his sons, following other careers, refused to manage the business. Paul-Andre agreed to sell the business to Karl Scheufele, who as the new head of the company, gained significant experience with watchmaking and jewelry making. He contributed to modernization of the company and added the jewelry segment into the Chopard watch production.
In 1975 the Chopard factory moved from the center of Geneva to Meyrin-Geneva. It marked a new stage for the company as it started producing ladies' and jewelry timepieces. In 1976 Chopard introduced the Happy Diamonds collection. Watches from the collection featured mobile diamonds that floated freely between two transparent sapphire crystals.
In 1980 the Chopard Company debuted with sports watches on leather straps. The range of Happy Diamonds watches was enlarged by jewelry pieces. The first Chopard boutiques were opened in Hong Kong, Geneva and Vienna in the 1980-s.
In 1988 Chopard established the cooperation with the Mille Miglia, an annual Italian rally where vintage and classic cars take part. To mark the partnership, Chopard has maintained the tradition of developing a new special edition Mille Miglia timepiece every year.
The Chopard Happy Sport collection appeared in 1993.
In 1996, the Chopard Company opened its independent movement factory in Fleurier.
Also in 1996, after years of planning and development, the first Chopard in-house movement of the late 20th century was produced, the calibre 1.96, encased in the "1860" hunter-back case, named for the historical origins of the manufacture. This was to be the flagship watch of Chopard, their re-entree as it were to manufacture status, and Chopard spared no effort with it. Only 300 of the 1860 hunter-back units are known to have been produced. However, the calibre 1.96 was incorporated into later iterations of the 1860 watch without the hunter-back. Many of these 1860 watches, called "16/1860/2" and "16/1860/3" and all without hunter-backs, were produced. The calibre 1.96 achieved a level of design and finish that set it apart and qualified it as haute horlogerie in many ways. It was stamped with the Geneva Seal which is a designation reserved for the highest level of construction and finish, incorporated a 22k micro-rotor into a very thin (3.3 mm) movement and with a unique bi-directional winding mechanism, had twin mainspring barrels allowing for a 65 hour power reserve, a breguet overcoil hairspring and a swan-neck micro regulator. It had 32 jewels and ran at 28,800 beats per hour. It was found to be a highly accurate movement. The calibre 1.96 was in many ways a ground-breaking movement for Chopard. Walt Odets wrote a comprehensive technical review of the 1.96 movement (see link below). It has been referred to as perhaps the finest Swiss automatic movement now produced.
In 1998 the Company partnered with the annual Cannes International Film Festival. In 2000 the beginning of the new millennium was marked by the introduction of the Chopard L.U.C Quattro watch, powered by a technically advanced caliber with four barrels - an innovation that provided 9-day power reserve.
In 2001 the horology world was joined by the Chopard L.U.C Tonneau watch powered by the first-ever tonneau-shaped self-winding movement with off-centered micro-rotor. In 2002 Chopard new Golden Diamonds concept enlarged the jewelry range.
In 2003 the Chopard Tourbillon watch enlarged the Manufacture's L.U.C. range and the Happy Spirit collection was born. In 2004 the Company unveiled the L.U.C. Regulateur watch and the Butterfly jewelry pieces collection. In 2005 ,Chopard presented the Copacabana and Golden Diamonds collections and introduced the L.U.C. Lunar 1. The brand became a part of the sailing world, having initiated the Grand Prix Chopard Decision 35 sailing regatta.
In 2006 the company celebrated the 30th anniversary of Happy Diamonds watch collection and the 10th anniversary of the movement factory in Fleurier.
Mr. Scheufele is still the president of the Chopard Company. He has kept the Company as a family business. In the 1990s his children joined the business. Caroline Scheufele is the head of the jewelry division, while Karl-Friedrich manages the watchmaking department.
Chopard holds three production sites located in Geneva, Fleurier in Switzerland and Pforzheim in Germany. The Company has organized its products distribution through 13 subsidiaries placed all over the world. In addition, the brand has opened over 90 brand boutiques.
By 2007, the United States has Chopard boutiques in New York City, Beverly Hills and Costa Mesa, California, Bal Harbour and Palm Beach, Florida,and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. A ninth boutique will open in Boston in 2008 and in San Francisco in 2008 as well. There are hundreds of Chopard Authorized retailers in the United States, and thousands worldwide in every major world city like in Kuala Lumpur.
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