Tracking Time: In Conversation With Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Co-President, Chopard
Catch the legendary Karl-Friedrich Scheufele talk about watches and wine making for the 25th anniversary of L.U.C collection
The year was 1996 when Chopard unveiled its very first in-house Calibre 1.96 (named after the year it was created). The following year, the Maison introduced a three-hand watch with a date function called the L.U.C 1860, powered by the Calibre 1.96 movement. The L.U.C 1860 was developed as a tribute to Louis-Ulysse Chopard and the year he founded a high-precision watch manufacture specialising in pocket-watches and chronometers, in Sonvilier, Switzerland. This year, Chopard marks the 25th anniversary of the L.U.C collection, with a trio of chiming watches called the Sound of Eternity. It features the L.U.C Full Strike Tourbillon, the L.U.C Full Strike.
Sapphire, and the L.U.C Strike One. Each of these timepieces have undergone a process of adjustment and analysis under the aegis of Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, and led by virtuoso cellist and violinist Gautier and Renaud Capuçon. We caught up with the man behind these incredible timepieces, the consummate gentleman & Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, to talk about the Sound of Eternity collection, and more.
MW: 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the L.U.C collection. How does it feel? How are you planning to celebrate this momentous occasion?
Karl-Friedrich Scheufele: The L.U.C collection is obviously very meaningful for me because it also marks the beginning of an era where Chopard decided to produce watch movements again. We started in 1996, and then in 1997, the first L.U.C watch appeared, which was named after the founder of Chopard. And so began the era of the L.U.C. Looking back, we can say that we have covered a big part of watchmaking culture in interpreting our view of things in terms of each complication or each movement. Every one of them is always marking some innovation, and is always based on traditional watchmaking culture. So of course, we are proud of Chopard. We are now producing nearly 80 percent of our own mechanical movement, which is great news, especially in an era where the watchmaking industry is controlled by some big groups who own several brands. We stand out, we are independent, we are family-owned and family-run, and we are still around (laughs).
MW: From the first L.U.C 1860 watch released in 1997 to the most recent L.U.C edition, how do you think the collection has evolved?
KFS: I think over the years, we definitely found a clear DNA for the L.U.C collection, which we continue to elaborate upon. But I can safely say that looking back, every watch that was made then is on its way to become a classic or collectible, if not already a collectible. I think that is very important for me, because it shows that we did something right.
MW: Throughout the 25 years of the L.U.C collection, do you have one L.U.C watch that holds a special place in your heart? If so, which one is it, and why?
KFS: It’s the first one — the L.U.C 1860. It is the one equipped with the movement called 1.96, which was the first automatic movement that we built and conceived. It is a really meaningful watch for me, although afterwards we made much more complicated pieces like the Full Strike Trilogy etc. All of them, obviously, hold a very special place in my heart. But if I have to make just one choice, then it has to be the first one.
MW: Talking about the recently released Sound of Eternity collection, if you had to choose one, which one would it be?
KFS: I think the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire, because it combines all the elements like innovation, a contemporary note, the sapphire, and the traditional know-how of the movement where you can look at it from all sides. It’s all of that in one watch.
MW: Apart from watchmaking, you have many other interests like winemaking, art collecting, vintage car culture, etc. Among these other interests, which one has influenced you the most in becoming your most creative self?
KFS: I think probably the cars. They are the closest to the watches when it comes to design and technical aspects and both combined. I think classic cars have this flair and this fascination, and certain aspects that are relevant for watches. The red thread between winemaking and watchmaking is the patience that you need for both.
MW: What was the inspiration behind the new watches? Can you tell us a little about the thought process behind it?
KFS: We launched the Alpine Eagle timepiece in its original state, and it became a very successful timepiece. It was really my dream, if not my obsession, to start introducing Haute Horlogerie in the Alpine Eagle world. Why? Because I had the conviction that today, there are a number of clients who are intrigued by complications and high watchmaking. But they do not necessarily want to wear a classic watch anymore. So, with the Alpine Eagle, it gives this opportunity for our clients to experiment with some Haute Horlogerie in a sporty elegant case. This allows our clients to wear a tourbillon on their wrist without having to worry too much about going swimming with it.
MW: What are some of the challenges you faced while creating the new watches? Can you talk a little about a few?
KFS: The challenge for the Trilogy was proportionally as important as the result. What that means is for example, with the sapphire case, while it was an obvious thing to do, it didn’t turn out to be that obvious when it came to the realisation of the object. We faced many setbacks; we went back and forth in regard to the many aspects of the watch like polishing, the crown made from sapphire crystal etc. So, making sure all of that is in place was not an obvious
thing to produce.
MW: If you could choose a favourite from the new launches, which one would it be, and why?
KFS: Wow, this is a tough question. It has to be the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire. Why? Because it showcases what our artisans are capable of doing. It’s a contemporary design holding traditional craftsmanship inside, which can be viewed from all sides.