Karl-Friedrich Scheufele – Co-President, Chopard
You recently presented your new Alpine Eagle collection ; what was the most surprising reaction ?
During the initial presentations to our retailers, the Alpine Eagle received a unanimously positive response, which is rare ! Everyone was very positive, and it is easy to sense in such discussions whether people are really enthusiastic or just being polite. Several of them actually ordered some for themselves. The version with the blue dial is the most popular so far, as the harmony with the metal is particularly appealing. It is the one I also chose for myself ; I love blue in general and this shade in particular, but it is the first time I have worn a Chopard watch featuring blue. This is of course a matter of taste, because my son has chosen the gray dial.
“Alpine Eagle is currently the only collection to feature the exceptional metal named Lucent Steel A223.”
Was the intergenerational creation process of the Alpine Eagle easier with your son than when you suggested the St. Moritz to your father ?
Whether with my son today in our collaboration on the Alpine Eagle or me back then with my father,the exercise proved to be an excellent learning curve in terms of both patience and understanding. Grasping the ins and outs of creating a new watch remainsa tricky exercise and there’s a long path from the 3D rendering to production. My son saw how much attention needed to be devoted to every detail and realized that actually handling the watch could result in the need for certain changes compared with the prototype. At his age I experienced the same emotions, although at the time there were no 3D renderings, no wax models and in fact sometimes just a watercolor painting, so there were a lot less means available.
Will the Lucent Steel A223 metal you developed for the Alpine Eagle be used on other collections ?
First of all, it is important to point out that the development of Lucent Steel began before the first pencil strokes for Alpine Eagle, but it naturally established itself in the process as the obvious choice for this collection. For the time being, this extraordinary metal is reserved exclusively for Alpine Eagle, especially since this material is not as easy to work with as steel. It implied a lot of adaptation in terms of processes and machines. It calls for a gradual approach and will be introduced in other collections at a later stage.
As a mountain lover, what do you hope to accomplish through the Eagle Wings Foundation ?
As you may know, 20 years ago I was already involved in the Alp Action Foundation initiated by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, with whom we conducted an annual project in the Alps, especially in the Bernese Alps. But it died with him and I had always promised myself to continue in one way or another, not only because I was very close to him but also because I love the mountains where I enjoy ski touring in winter. We explored the possibilities and embraced the Eagle Wings Foundation’s vision, which goes well beyond the bird itself in order to draw attention to the wonderful Alpine environment that requires urgent care.
What Chopard highlights can we expect in 2020 ?
In addition to our major events such as the Mille Miglia and the Cannes Film Festival, we will of course undertake activities relating to the Eagle Wings Foundation. In parallel, we have begun a program to renovate our stores so as to improve the customer experience, which is a very important project. The one in London has just been awarded a prize for its renovation, and the one on Place Vendome in Paris will follow in 2020, as will our Parisian premises that will undergo two years of renovation. Our network comprises 150 boutiques worldwide, which means we take hosting our customers very seriously.
What do you think of the growing offer of second-hand “certified pre-owned” watches ?
If the consumer can benefit from a better organized and more secure market in order to buy a second-hand watch guaranteed by reliable purveyors, I think this is a good thing for watchmaking. This phenomenon is slowly taking hold in our sector but is very widespread in areas such as the automotive industry, where it seems quite normal for a dealer to also sell tested and guaranteed used cars. In the long term we may even end up offering our clients such a service.
What do you remember about your experience as a GPHG jury member after winning the “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix in 2017 ?
I have always considered the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève as a great initiative. It does a great job of promoting fine watchmaking in general. Participating in its jury in 2017 and 2018, as the winner of the previous years’ “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix, was an exciting experience conducive to an open-minded attitude, especially when comparing ideas on watches with other jury members. It gave me a better understanding of how watches are selected. This year, I visited the exhibition of 80 watches at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva, which is an incredible opportunity for the public to be able to view them in this way and enjoy the privilege of such a close-up look.