Caroline Scheufele, the president of Chopard, discusses the legacy of designing watches for the modern woman.
For the epitome of a family-run luxury business, look no further than Swiss jewellery and watch maison, Chopard. For the last 30 years, every single one of Chopard's women's watches have been designed by Caroline Scheufele, president of Chopard, whilst her brother, Karl-Friedriche Scheufele, designed of the men's watches. (Click here for an interview with Karl-Friedriche).
One of Caroline's first designs was the Happy Sport, which she conceived back in 1993. It was the first watch to combine diamonds and a stainless steel case and the 'dancing diamonds' feature was groundbreaking at the time. When she first presented the designs, colleagues told her she would not sell a single one. The watch went on to be a best-seller.
"My inspiration for it stemmed from the lifestyle of a modern versatile woman; versatile in the way that she can throw on a pair of jeans during the day and dress up in an evening gown at night," says Caroline Scheufele. "I wanted a timepiece that was easy to wear, a watch that was both sporty and chic at the same time. A watch that I could wear all day long: at the gym, in the office or for a dinner in town."
The Happy Sport watch has been relaunched, now appearing in a 33 mm-diameter case inspired by the ‘golden ratio’ principles of aesthetic harmony. Seven new references are joining the collection: four two-tone watches featuring a Lucent Steel A223 case embellished with ethical 18-carat rose gold, and three entirely crafted from ethical 18-carat rose gold, available on a leather strap or metal bracelet. An eighth version in ethical 18-carat white gold is entirely set with diamonds. All of them beat to the manufactured Chopard 09.01-C movement with automatic winding and each dial has the legendary dancing diamonds.
Chopard engaged actress Julia Roberts to be the face - and wrist - of the relaunched Happy Sport watch. Caroline says: "Who better to embody Joie de Vivre than the Hollywood star with the world’s most radiant smile? For me, it was Julia and no one else! Her charisma, her spontaneity, her boldness, her bursts of laughter and her actions on behalf of women's and children's rights make her a universally adored actress," says Caroline.
Here Caroline Scheufele discusses the success of the Happy Sport watch, and why you must always trust your instinct.
1. Did you imagine Happy Sport would go on to become one of Chopard's most iconic watches?
In 1993, this timepiece was so disruptive and innovative in its approach to feminine watchmaking that it was hard to imagine how successful it would become. You had to be very visionary! It was the first time that the rarity of diamonds and the sportiness of steel were combined in a watch. It was also the first time that a watch was created and designed by a woman, for women, right from the start. I was driven by the conviction that ladies’ watchmaking needed a breath of fresh air.
I would say I feel honoured by Happy Sport’s well-deserved success because it faithfully represents the Chopard DNA. It’s all about the fundamental values of our family Maison; freedom, authenticity, and most of all, “joie de vivre”.
2. What were some of the most memorable reactions to it at the time?
When we launched Happy Sport, deciding to combine diamonds and steel was a first in the watchmaking industry and totally unheard of! Even my parents were absolutely not convinced, but I knew women would love the idea of a watch that can be worn all day long, 24/7, from the gym to work and then on to a fancy dinner.
Also, when I presented the Happy Sport concept, I can’t help thinking of the head of the workshop telling me back then that we would never sell a single watch, but that if we did he would give me a rose for each……He actually ended up giving me a magnificent rosebush for my garden later on! Indeed the Happy Sport was an immediate success. Almost 30 years later, history has proven me right, confirming that you must always believe in your ideas.
3. Many women are in a different place now to where they were 30 years ago, a lot has changed about balance in society. How do you express this through watch design?
I come from a generation that has seen a women’s place in society evolve like never before. The last 30 years have laid the foundations for equal rights and freedoms between men and women, and the latter have acquired power in the family as well as in business and politics. In many countries, there is still a long way to go, but the basic principles are there, and there is a generation of determined women all over the world who are ready to defend their ideals so that each woman can free herself from barriers and live her life in harmony with her own nature. Happy Sport reflects these women and their way of life: strong yet precious, sporty yet also very feminine. This similarity enables our customers to feel a natural attraction with this creation made with them in mind.
4. Why did Happy Sport need a redesign?
Happy Sport has survived almost three decades while preserving every ounce of its charm and modernity and therefore this icon deserves to be celebrated. We of course preserved the emblematic dancing diamonds and "pebble-link" bracelet, whilst adding major innovations such as a new case and our inhouse automatic movement. Indeed, the new Happy Sport watches features a 33 mm-diameter case of perfect proportions inspired by the ‘golden ratio’ principles of aesthetic harmony and particularly well suited to the female wrist. Since antiquity, this mathematical formula of ideal balance, reproducing the harmony occurring in Nature, has been observed in science as well as art and architecture. What better way to pay homage to the enduring elegance and bold spirit of Happy Sport than to interpret it with new perfect dimensions?
5. Why did you choose Julia Roberts?
I still remember the first time I watched the film Erin Brockovich, where Julia took on the role of a dramatic heroine and a free-spirited, determined woman. She showed that she was capable of beautifully interpreting any role. For me, she is not only a talented and glamorous actress, but a genuine global movie legend with a big heart, you could say she embodies a feminine ideal. Across generations and natural borders, the name Julia Roberts evokes a uniquely positive worldwide feeling.
Also, I love the way Julia made history on the red carpet the first time she walked up the famous steps of the Palais des Festival in Cannes – barefoot and wearing an off-the-shoulder black dress accompanied by a Chopard Haute Joaillerie emerald and diamond necklace. That moment remains one of the most memorable events in recent editions of the Festival, thanks to her naturally graceful demeanor. Ever since that instant, she has uniquely personified the ultimate free-spirited woman.
6. Why did you choose Xavier Dolan?
To orchestrate the encounter between Julia Roberts and Happy Sport, I entrusted the artistic direction of the new campaign to director Xavier Dolan. Renowned for the intensity with which he conveys his protagonists’ emotions through the camera, Xavier manages to capture in a short film how Julia Roberts embodies the Joie de Vivre inherent to Happy Sport watches. The choice of Julia and Xavier for this project also reflects Chopard's long-standing attachment to the world of cinema. As official partner of the Cannes Film Festival since 1998, I’m proud to say we have actively contributed to film production and the emergence of young talent with our yearly Trophée Chopard awards.
7. What is coming up next?
We also have our yearly rendezvous with the Cannes Film Festival which (fingers crossed!) will exceptionally take place in July. This is always a glamorous and much-awaited event, as we unveil our Red Carpet High Jewellery collection for the occasion. But let’s keep the surprise…
Another key moment this year is the 25th anniversary of Chopard Manufacture. We are revealing some very special L.U.C timepieces to complete the collection.
Watch the new Chopard campaign directed by Xavier Dolan here.