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Chopard - The Sound Of The Future

Chopard The Sound Of The Future

Co-President of Chopard, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele shares his insights from the last two years and gives us a preview of what to expect from Chopard in 2023

Suzanne Wong  
We started off talking about the Sound of Eternity — the trilogy of chiming watches from the L.U.C collection — congratulations once again for this achievement. Your team really did some exceptional work here. We saw how everyone was amazed and excited, but perhaps not too surprised at all, which is understandable, because we should all be aware by now what Chopard is capable of doing.

The Sound Of The Future

L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon - L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire - L.U.C Strike One © Chopard

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele
Well, I guess if they didn’t know before, they should know now.

Suzanne Wong
It’s important that Chopard was able to launch these watches at the right time, and by that I mean that in many parts of the world, things are almost back to normal — an environment where we can turn our focus back onto our work and the pleasure to be had in such beautiful watchmaking creations. 

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele
Things are so much better now than the bleak picture we were looking at in early 2020. At that time we didn't even know how to communicate with each other. Along the way, I noticed the big problem that our industry had in terms of communicating was the fact that we lost physical contact with the products, and we lost the ability to meet without purpose. Yes, we had software like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, we still had presentations and meetings, but it was always purpose-oriented. We lost the luxury of spending time together with someone across a table, exchanging views and speaking of different subjects. And of course even the most beautiful photograph on a screen cannot do justice to a timepiece. I noticed this particularly last year when I was viewing the watches competing in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, in which I voted. I was saying to myself how differently the watches came across from their photos when you were actually holding them — we definitely missed out on a dimension in those last two years. 

Suzanne Wong
Of course, the development for the chiming trilogy was started years ago, and the environment in which the watches were actually launched in 2022 is so different from the situation we anticipated for the original launch. Has this changed your perception of what the watches represent, what they mean for the company, and how they speak to consumers?

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele
There are always advantages and disadvantages to everything. What I noticed over the past two years is that more and more people were reading and studying and inquiring about mechanical watches. I would say there are probably more watch collectors today than two years ago, and they’re younger too. This comes from the fact that they had more time to spend on developing their interest, because you have to spend time on watches, you don’t just pick it up like that. They had time to read up on watch companies, to try and understand the philosophy of the company, going into why they make this and that. People could come to watches and watchmaking at their own pace. As opposed to, you know, before when all of us in the industry were all accelerating vastly and going places and the momentum was high — and that was probably not the right way to go. 

The Sound Of The Future

L.U.C Strike One © Chopard

Suzanne Wong
I get the sense that you feel today’s audience is more receptive to what we are trying to tell them about fine watchmaking, about high complications and intricate details. 

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele
I think so. I definitely have this feeling.

Suzanne Wong
Does that make it easier to communicate with customers? Those of us who work predominantly with fine watchmaking products have always been aware that it can be difficult to talk about such refined and complex mechanisms in an accessible way.

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele
It’s definitely true that the more knowledge and understanding the audience has, the easier it is to feel in resonance with them, especially for something like fine watchmaking. And since we're on the topic of acoustics and chiming watches, the idea of resonance works very well here. You can tell that they are not only thinking about the prestige aspect, the external aspects, but also the inside. That’s very rewarding.

Suzanne Wong
This comes together perfectly with one of your personal projects, Art In Time, a gallery in Monaco that champions the values of fine watchmaking and the artisanal spirit.

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele
When we opened in Monaco, for some time, nobody really knew that we were there. And this is Monaco, where you have a lot of tourists. We were open for more than a year and then we had to close in 2020. But when we reopened later, we did better than we did in 2019. And we did even better in 2021. Generally speaking, people are more interested in independent watchmakers now. How did this happen? I think it could only have happened because of how everyone is gathering more information and therefore getting more interested. Otherwise, they would all continue to buy the same mainstream watches that aren’t in stock for months or even years, you know. I like this momentum that we’re seeing, and I think that's very nice. For me, all of this is a very good sign that watchmaking in general is on a good track.

The Sound Of The Future

L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon © Chopard

Suzanne Wong
These observations that you’ve gathered, will you integrate them a bit more into Chopard's product strategy and company direction? What I mean is, you have this milestone at Chopard, the Sound of Eternity, and you’ve also gained these insights about how the watch audience has developed. Will we see Chopard focus more and more on high-end watchmaking, or do you think that it's equally important to have a strong commercial offering as well?

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele
I think we still need to keep up a solid base of what you would call a more commercial offering. Because I believe we need to encourage a considerable part of the watch community to continue buying into the experience of mechanical watch appreciation. But if you only offer very high-end pieces and nothing else, how is this going to work? That's the reason why next year, we’ll review and redesign the Mille Miglia collection, which we believe is very important to keep as an entry-level Chopard collection. Even within the L.U.C. collection, we want to maintain a certain level of accessibility, but always something interesting and sophisticated. It’s great that we have the Full Strike, and we’re very proud of what this piece stands for. But I think it’s important to capture another kind of audience as well. 

The Sound Of The Future

L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire © Chopard

Suzanne Wong
You're absolutely right. And I think it's wrong for us to assume that consumers are stuck either in high-end watches or in accessible, entry-level pieces. You can’t pigeonhole consumers like that — for example, just because you like fine wines doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy a fresh, cold beer. 

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele
Definitely! If you have only fine wines every day, it's really not the same. I mean, it has to remain special. 

Strike Up The Band!

Co-President of Chopard, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele © Chopard

 

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