Celebrated swiss manufacturer is making ever more watches with in-house movements
Chopard has been sponsor and official timekeeper of the Mille Miglia since 1988, and every year makes a limited-edition watch that is presented to all the participants. The major difference for this year’s event was that for the first time the watch was fitted with an in-house Chopard movement.
That is a significant move for a company that has been rapidly increasing the number of watches that come with in-house movements, rather than motors sourced from the Swatch Group-owned movement manufacturer ETA. In 2011, Swatch decided to begin phasing out supply of ETA movements to companies outside the group. This decision hastened Chopard’s journey towards self-sufficiency, but in reality it was one that was already well under way.
The company’s history began when the watchmaker Louise-Ulysse Chopard opened a workshop in Switzerland’s Jura mountains in 1860. Just over a century later, younger generations of Chopards sold the business to the Scheufele family, who own the independent company to this day. They developed Chopard, by then based in Geneva, into a hugely successful company known as much for its jewels as its watches.
But whilst the company base remains in Geneva, the heart of Chopard-the-watchmaker has returned to its roots in the Jura mountains. The first step was to establish Chopard Manufacture in 1996, a specialist centre in the town of Fleurier dedicated to haute horlogerie. A second facility was bought in the town in 2007 to allow the company to make movements for its more mainstream watches. Five years later Chopard was making 5000 movements a year, a number expected to increase to 15,000 by the end of this year.
Among the beneficiaries of this facility is the Mille Miglia 2015 Race Edition, available in either steel or red gold. The watch follows the design codes of the classic cars eligible to take part in the event, with a rosso corsa dial and a power-reserve indicator designed to evoke a mid-century fuel-gauge.