In the sports watch arena, Chopard has earned its racing stripes, both through its authentic involvement in the auto world and in the creation of purpose-built manufacture movements.
The brand is a particular fan of classic cars. In fact it seems classic cars are to Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele what timepieces are to watch enthusiasts. Chopard sponsors and participates in a global circuit of glamorous rallies: the Mille Miglia, a 1,000-mile race from Brescia to Rome; the Historic Grand Prix de Monaco, an adjunct to the Grand Prix involving vintage racing cars; the Ennstal-Classic, a jaunt through the Austrian Alps; the L.U.C Chopard Classic Weekend Rally through the city of Moscow; the 1000 Millas Sport in Patagonia; the California Mille Race, America’s answer to the Italian rally; and the Haciendas Classic Chopard Rally in Bogota, Colombia.
Chopard made the decision – and the investment – back in 1994 to return to its roots as a watchmaker (it began life in 1860 as a producer of pocket watches and chronometers). Its first three new calibers followed in 1996, and shortly after that came a state-of-the-art manufacture in the Val de Travers village of Fleurier. “Our goal,” said co-president Karl-Freidrich Scheufele at the time, “is to produce a large number of movements.” Last year the brand made over 5,000.
Its most recent achievement is a trio of watches in its Classic Racing Collection, to be launched at Basel this April, representing the first in the collection to be equipped with Chopard movements that are designed, developed and assembled in the Fleurier Ebauches workshops. The Superfast Chrono houses caliber 03.05-M, a mechanical self-winding chronograph movement. The Superfast Automatic is equipped with self-winding Chopard caliber 01.01-M, displaying hours, minutes and seconds. The Superfast Power Control houses caliber 01.02-M, with hours, minutes, small seconds, date window and a power-reserve indicator. All are COSC certified and designed with a racing car aesthetic, with vertical lines on the dial that evoke the cooling fins found on air-cooled racing engines and numerals that resemble the markers on sports-car rev-counters and speedometers.
The brand has also proven its affinity for translating the concept of speed to its watch movements. The 8Hz (High Frequency) L.U.C 01.06-L caliber beats at a frequency of 57,600 vph, or 8 Hz. The standard frequency for today’s watches is 28,000 vph. Why go higher? The faster the balance, the greater the accuracy. This is made possible by silicon – a wear-resistant material used for the lever, escapement wheel and impulse pin of the L.U.C 8Hz, which can withstand the pressure of high frequency. “It’s all about speed, experience and technology; that’s the way to stay ahead of the others,” says racing legend and brand ambassador Jacky Ickx.