The watchmaker with a passion for classic motoring – and a very special brand ambassador
Chopard is world-renowned as one of Switzerland’s oldest and finest watchmakers. It was founded by Louis-Ulysse Chopard, who opened a workshop in the village of Sonvillier in 1860. His son Paul Louis, who relocated the company to Geneva in 1937, and grandson Paul Andre steered the family business through the first half of the 20th Century.
In 1963, Karl Scheufele — a descendent of a dynasty of watchmakers and jewellers from Germany — bought the company. He and his wife Karin worked hard to build up Chopard’s strong international reputation over the next 40 years. Today, their children Karl-Friedrich and Caroline serve as co-presidents. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is the architect of the company’s association with motor sport through its support for the modern iteration of the world’s most famous road race. Here, he explains why the sport is so intrinsic to the high-quality brand.
When did Chopard first begin its involvement in motor sport?
Chopard’s association with classic motor sports first began in 1988, with sponsorship of the Mille Miglia. This marked the beginning of a very important relationship for Chopard and the world of classic sports and racing cars, which symbolise passion, precision engineering and style.
What is it about motor sport that makes it a perfect platform for promoting Chopard?
I have always been fascinated by the exhilarating world of motor sports and one of my greatest passions is collecting and driving classic cars. When Chopard was given the opportunity to sponsor the Mille Miglia, I was excited by the collaboration because in both cases sophisticated mechanical engineering, outstanding design and high performance play a particularly important role. I have always been convinced by the opinion that aficionados of beautiful automobiles have a natural weakness for fine timepieces and vice-versa, which is why the relationship works so well.
How important is the Mille Miglia to the company and what do you gain from the strong association with the event?
We are proud that today people so closely associate the Mille Miglia with Chopard. It was the race that inspired me to create a Mille Miglia chronograph, of which we annually launch a limited edition at the race. Today watch enthusiasts and collectors impatiently wait for the annual presentation of the latest Mille Miglia watch.
Aside from the Mille Miglia, which other motor sport events does Chopard support and why?
Chopard supports several motor sport events and an equivalent of the Mille Miglia on a circuit is the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, which takes place every two years. At each event, more than 200 drivers from 19 different countries line up at the start line with exceptional Grand Prix racing cars from between 1947 and 1978, competing in one of the seven categories listed by the organisation. This event is unquestionably one of the most prestigious of all classic circuit races, attracting collectors from all over the world to compete in a fiercely contested series of events.
Jacky Ickx is an important brand ambassador for Chopard. How did the relationship with him begin? What does it mean to the company to be associated with such a legend?
Jacky Ickx is our ambassador, but first and foremost he is a great friend. I have always admired him and we feel very privileged to collaborate with him. Together with Jacky we have created a collection bearing his name and honouring his great achievements, and to pay homage to motor sports and horological innovation.
Does the company use any other sports for promotion and marketing?
We feel that the daring yet sophisticated nature of motor sport best reflects our Classic Racing Collection and therefore our sports watches are inspired by the world of car racing.
The relationship with motor sport is a long and successful one. Will it continue?
I certainly hope so. We strongly value the relationship we have established with this sport and trust it will continue to grow and inspire us in the future.