Dubai is a familiar destination for Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Chopard’s co-president. “I remember my first trip here with my father, more than forty years ago,” he recalls. “Back then there was only one hotel and the Seddiqi family, the artisans of this extraordinary Dubai Watch Week, had just the one store which wasn’t even the size of our booth this year. How far we’ve come!” In this instance, the 3,000 miles that separate Geneva from Dubai, where Chopard is showcasing its very latest Alpine Eagle; a collection whose origins are a marketing department’s dream… except this is a totally true story and probably the only one in the industry to have brought three generations together.
Like father, like son
Flashback to 1980, when 22-year-old Karl-Friedrich set about convincing his father to position the family firm in the steel sports watch segment – not the most obvious choice for the brand, particularly as the Swiss watch industry was still groggy from the quartz crisis. But Karl-Friedrich dug in his heels and the project saw daylight as the St Moritz. Success was on the cards, with some 50,000 pieces sold over 15 years. Can history repeat itself? Karl-Fritz, representing the third generation, believed so. He in turn chipped away at his father’s resistance (with help from his grandfather) until he finally convinced him the St Moritz was ripe for revival. And so the Alpine Eagle was born, revealed to the public last October.
Since reaching stores a little over a month ago, the collection has been “well received”, says Karl-Friedrich, adding that “we’ve made the choice of selective distribution at 300 of the brand’s 800 points of sale. It’s also a matter of organising production. Both movements in the collection [the Chopard 01.01-C for the men’s 41mm models and the Chopard 09.01-C for the women’s 36mm models, each with COSC certification] are in-house calibres, manufactured at Fleurier Ebauches which this year will produce more than 35,000 movements. That’s already a major stage for Chopard and we’ll be progressing volumes at a gradual rate. We don’t intend to rush things.”
In defence of Nature
This prudent approach hasn’t prevented Karl-Friedrich Scheufele from blazing a trail in numerous domains, not least the decision, more than 20 years ago, to endow the brand with its own manufacturing capabilities or, since 2015, its support for “sustainable luxury”. Having already committed to using only “ethical” gold, the brand is going a step further and has introduced a special steel for the Alpine Eagle. It contains 70% recycled material, is smelted twice for increased hardness and greater sheen, and is produced in neighbouring Austria by the Voestalpine foundry. Carrying on this environmental theme, through the Alpine Eagle, Chopard is partnering the Eagle Wings Foundation which works to reintroduce the white-tailed eagle to the Alps, and encourage us to protect this and other fragile environments by adopting a more responsible way of life.
Himself a nature lover, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele came to Dubai to speak about the cause – accompanied by Jacques-Oliver Travers, falconer and founder of Eagle Wings, and Livia Firth, founder of Eco Age – and convince others that industrial activity is compatible with sustainable development, provided one is willing to make the necessary investments and has the determination to make a difference. For a few moments, an Alpine breeze swept over Dubai Watch Week…