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A small farming village in the mountainous region of Jura in Switzerland might seem an unlikely place for the story of Chopard to begin but Sonvilier had a rich history of watch making and it was here that Louis-Ulysse Chopard (1836-1915), a farmer’s son, established his workshop in 1860 aged 24.
At its height there were at least fifteen independent watchmakers living and working in the village but from the very beginning Chopard’s talent and ambition was apparent. He was a gifted craftsman and innovative designer whose work quickly attracted attention. He created interesting pocket watches and unique chronometers to fuel interest from buyers but it was the precision and reliability of his watches that would secure his reputation and see it spread not just throughout Switzerland and Europe but all the way to the court of Tsar Nicholas II in Russia. He became the official provider of watches for the Swiss Railways, an acknowledgment of the quality and accuracy of his pieces.
Paul-Louis Chopard succeeded his father in 1915 and six years later opened another workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds eventually making this the company headquarters. In 1937 he relocated the firm again, this time to Geneva, the internationally renowned capitol of horology and fine watchmaking. This brought the company closer to its clientele for whom the technical sophistication and exceptional accuracy of Chopard’s work was highly desirable.
In 1943 the company passed to the third generation, Paul- André Chopard who spent the next twenty years building on his fathers and grandfathers legacy. However, none of his sons wished to inherit the company so in 1963 he began looking for a suitable buyer. He found it in the firm of Karl Scheufele, a manufacturing jewellers and watchmakers from Pforzheim in Germany. Like Chopard it was a family run business and Karl Scheufele III later said he new within half an hour of meeting Paul-André that he wanted to buy the company. It had been the Scheufele family’s wish for many years to acquire a Swiss manufacturing business and in Chopard they found the perfect opportunity.
Since then the Scheufele family have gradually transformed the Chopard name into a world wide brand not only offering fine Swiss watches but also developing an ever expanding range of fine jewellery as well. Their best known collection is the Happy Diamonds range which celebrated its 40th birthday in 2016. The creativity of Karl and his wife Karin is continued by the couple’s children Caroline and Karl-Friedrich, the firm’s current co-presidents. In 2007 they presented their first Haute Joaillerie Red Carpet collection which was followed in 2010 with the Haute Joaillerie Animal World collection which they launched to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Chopard.