Louis-Ulysse Chopard, the son of a farmer from Sonvilier, quickly conquered Switzerland and the world at the age of 24. The artisan watchmaker created works of art with innovative designs, which early on helped him export to such illustrious places like the court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Qualities like precision and reliability were very sought-after characteristics in watches, dating all the way back to the 19th century. With unique chronometers and pocket watches, Louis-Ulysse Chopard aimed to fulfill and exceed these desires.
Chopard’s 19th century watches
Chopard’s extraordinary timepieces helped build a reputation of reliability and quality for Swiss-made products. Early on, Chopard won two very prestigious commissions: becoming one of the official providers of watches for «Tir Fédéral» and the Swiss Railways.
Swissness in Sonvilier
Sonvilier is a typical farming village in the Swiss part of the Jura mountains with a rich heritage of watchmaking. During its golden age, there were around 15 independent watchmakers in Sonvilier alone. From the very beginning Chopard stood out as the artisan who produced watches that met the highest standards of quality and precision.
From Swiss Jura to Geneva
With the transition of Chopard to Louis-Ulysse’s son Paul-Louis, a wind of change swept through the family business. In 1937 he took the far-sighted step of relocating Chopard to Geneva, the internationally renowned capital of Haute Horlogerie, or Fine Watchmaking, thereby bringing it closer to its cosmopolitan clientele. Chopard became known for producing exceptionally accurate watches with a high degree of technical sophistication.
Paul André Chopard
With Paul-André, the third generation of Chopard took over. After prosperous years under Paul-Louis and Louis-Ulysse, the company began to face challenges. At age 70, Paul-André was looking for someone to purchase Chopard, as none of his sons were interested in continuing the business. This is when he met Karl Scheufele III, the owner of the Germany-based watch and jewelry company bearing his name, with whom he shared similar interests such as the love of fine craftsmanship and creativity.
The Karl Scheufele Company and the takeover of Chopard
Founded by Karl Scheufele I in 1904, the company manufactured jewelry and watches in Germany’s famed “Golden City”, Pforzheim. They were especially known for their Art Deco-inspired timepieces and jewels. Keen on the famous quality of Swiss made products, in 1963 Karl Scheufele III decided that to continue being successful he needed a Swiss brand, and he wanted to buy a company from Geneva.
Karl Scheufele III and his wife Karin
As a descendant of a dynasty of watchmakers and jewelers from Pforzheim, Germany, Karl Scheufele III fulfilled his father and grandfather's wish of buying a Swiss manufacturing company by acquiring Chopard. Karl wanted to gain independence from their Geneva-based supplier of movement blanks, who also delivered to Eszeha’s competition.
The heirs of the Scheufele Family
Chopard is one of the last family-run watchmaking and jewelry company. Since the 1980s, Karl and Karin’s children Caroline and Karl-Friedrich have played an active part in the company. Caroline and Karl-Friedrich are Chopard’s current co-presidents. They each showed their independence: Caroline Scheufele, who is responsible of the ladies’ collections, developed the jewelry section and later the high-end jewelry department while her brother Karl-Friedrich, who managed the men's collections, developed sports watches during the 1980s and the Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier, which produces the L.U.C movements, in the 1990s.