Chopard is a Swiss watch manufacture with facilities in Geneva, Neuchâtel, as well as Fleurier. Originally founded in 1860, it first earned a name through precision railway watches where it manufactured both movements and timepieces.
Today, it is famous for both its refined L.U.C. line and its Mille Miglia motorsports-themed watches.
With its numerous factories, the company creates both for its own watches and as ébauche movements for other watchmakers. These are its L.U.C. and Fleurier Ébauches movements, respectively.
As it is also a jeweller, the company brings expertise in the gem-setting and goldsmithing fields. Diamonds appear in some watch models, and the company’s Geneva facility is able to smelt and cast gold cases in-house.
Chopard takes pride in its vertically-integrated production, that is, its capacity to create most watch parts in-house. This allows the brand to uphold standards such as ethical gold and diamond sourcing.
However, watches with in-house L.U.C. or Fleurier movements are available alongside those with finished ETA or Valjoux calibers. The company’s collections are eclectic, occasionally exhibiting quite unusual mechanisms.
Simply keep reading for the company’s history from the beginning, or follow the links below in order to jump ahead:
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The Family Manufacture: First Years
Louis-Ulysse Chopard founded his company in 1860 in his hometown of Sonvilier, Switzerland. During this period, the business primarily made railway watches, creating both the movements and complete timepieces.
Due to the company’s growing size, after Louis-Ulysse’s death the family’s operations would move multiple times to larger cities. Louis-Ulysse’s son Paul-Louis moved the factory first to La Chaux-de-Fonds and, later, to Geneva. Therefore, the brand was then able to create Geneva Seal watches.
In 1963, the firm had been in the family for three generations, but Paul-André, grandson of Louis-Ulysse, was childless. Therefore, he sought a buyer for the company, and found one in Karl Scheufele. Since then, the Scheufele family has run the luxury watch brand.
A New Era: Chopard And The Scheufeles
As the Scheufele family also had a background in fine jewelry, the company began creating jewelry in addition to watches. However, these two pursuits often overlapped, as in 1976’s iconic Happy Diamonds series.
Though it began as a men’s watch and is now a women’s collection, the Happy Diamonds concept remains the same. In this series, diamonds in a ring-shaped gold setting slide and spin about freely beneath the watch crystal.
Then, in the next decade, the brand’s enduring automotive-themed sports watch line began. The Mille Miglia series is the namesake of the Italian endurance rally involving classic cars from before 1957.
The company first offered Mille Miglia watches in 1988, when its partnership with the event officially began. Hence, the styling of the watches reflects this partnership, with an aesthetic imitating dashboard instruments and tire tread-patterned rubber bracelets.
In 1996, the next milestone was the L.U.C. series, its name in homage to the company’s founder. Focusing on haute horlogerie, L.U.C. watches boast high-end in-house calibers, placing the brand’s traditional watchmaking prowess front and center.
Though it varies from model to model, many L.U.C. watches receive prestigious qualifications. This includes COSC chronometer verification, the Geneva Seal, and Fleurier Quality certification.
Other Ventures: The Chopard Group
As an independent watchmaker, Chopard’s offerings represent a range of markets; therefore, multiple facilities and divisions create these diverse collections.
Chopard is the main division, and therefore produces most of the finished watches and jewelry. Chopard Manufacture is the oldest movement-creating department of the company and, accordingly, makes the traditional L.U.C. movements.
Movement-making subsidiary Fleurier Ébauches began in 2008 in order to replace off-the-shelf calibers in lower-midrange collections like Mille Miglia. The Fleurier Ébauches facility has a high degree of automation in order to create quality movements at a lower cost.
Finally, Ferdinand Berthoud, the most recent, started in 2013 as an offshoot brand offering high-end complication watches. Like L.U.C, Ferdinand Berthoud timepieces sport high-end, traditional mechanics and finishing, but with a different look and feel.
The name comes from the historical genius who, when only 26, attained the position of Master Watchmaker under Louis XV. This brand, the brainchild of Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, draws both inspiration and direction from the writings and designs of Berthoud.
Marine chronometers provide inspiration for many of the watches and, indeed, every timepiece under this brand is a COSC-certified chronometer. Most models use regulator displays, therefore they have separate dials for hours, minutes, and seconds.
Ethical Gold Sourcing
In 2010, Chopard joined the Responsible Jewelry Council, and has since taken various steps towards ethical sourcing of luxury materials.
Gold is common in the company’s luxury offerings, but the watchmaker distinguishes itself in the gold it uses. The brand has increasingly participated in and supported ethical gold initiatives worldwide, such as Fairmined.
These initiatives are still relatively small-scale and, consequently, don’t fill all of the company’s demand. Therefore, Chopard works with Fairmined-certified mines and, for the rest of its needs, uses gold with a traceable Chain of Custody.
In July 2018, the company announced that 100% of gold in its current offerings is ethically sourced. Though current standards for ethical gold receive criticism, Chopard strives to follow the most stringent gold standards available.
Learn More About Chopard
Since its inception, this watchmaking house has gradually transformed into an independent giant with a growing portfolio of brands. Because Chopard shifted most of its production in-house throughout recent decades, it now has greater freedom in materials and design.
However, for more high-quality content on watches, look no further than these Bespoke Unit resources:
- Go to the Bespoke Unit Watch Homepage
- Educate yourself on the parts of a wristwatch
- See our list of in-depth watch reviews
- Learn about other watch brands
"Solid offerings, all the way through! Chopard's intricate top-range micro-rotor L.U.C. calibres impress, while nicely-built midrange watches hold their own."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★