Chances are, when you heard Chopard had teamed up with Porsche motorsport as their official timing partner, you were at least already familiar with the luxury brand. You'd seen their advertisements, you'd seen their products, and perhaps you even own a piece from them. But who is Chopard? Why are they interested and invested in international motorsport? And most importantly, why did they choose to pair themselves with Porsche? Stick around, you're about to find out!
A Brief History Of Chopard:
Started in 1860 by a twenty-four year old Louis-Ulysse Chopard in Sonvilier, Switzerland, the company has always been invested in making quality timepieces. One hundred years later, in 1963, Paul-André Chopard, the grandson of the founder, sold the company to Karl Scheufele III. Karl had started his own goldsmithing and watchmaking firm at the age of 20, and acquired the Chopard brand to merge with his own. With the acquisition, Scheufele set about modernizing the company and expanding Chopard's offerings by adding jeweled designs and precious metal cases. In 1974, the company further expanded its reach into ladies' watches.
The 1980s were a time of transition for Chopard, as the Scheufele family moved into its second generation at the head of the company with Karl's son and daughter, Karl-Friedrich and Caroline, taking over as co-Vice Presidents of the company. It was Caroline's childhood sketches that influenced the company's signature "Happy Diamonds" collection, and more importantly for us, Karl-Friederich's interest in classic automobiles that persuaded the company to increase its influence in the automotive sphere.
Chopard's current position has been 150 years in the making, and the company has evolved into a worldwide watchmaking empire. They've expanded their offerings, improved their assembly processes, and managed to keep with the times, making modern attractive time pieces. Their newest line is the "Superfast", which includes a special edition 919 Hybrid inspired design that would be perfect for any Porsche motorsport fanatic.
Chopard's Connection To Motorsport:
We, as motorsport fans, owe a lot of gratitude to Karl-Friederich and his love of the classic automobile for getting the Chopard brand involved in motorsport, with which it is now inextricably linked. Only a few short years after being appointed a Vice President of the company, it was through his influence that Chopard became a major sponsor of the Mille Miglia classic car rally. Not long after that, the company also became sponsors of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique event.
Karl-Friederich also has a collection of classic automobiles that includes a number of beautiful vintage Porsche models. To give you an idea how dedicated Chopard is to the automotive enthusiast market, they've hired racing legend Jacky Ickx as a brand ambassador. Chopard has crafted special edition watches to commemorate the Mille Miglia, The Monaco historic grand prix, Mr. Ickx himself, and most recently a version of the Superfast watch to commemorate their relationship to Porsche's 919 Hybrid.
Why Chopard Chose To Partner With Porsche:
Let me preface this by saying "Why not?" If you're going to get into a relationship with a manufacturer in the World Endurance Championship and in particular at Le Mans, why not aim for the manufacturer with more Le Mans victories (and endurance victories in general) than any other carmaker. If you're going to bet on a horse, you always bet on a healthy one, right?
Outside of the fact that Porsche's 919 has always been a safe bet for racing success, Chopard knew that Porsche would be an excellent manufacturer to partner with because of their rabid fanbase, significant racing history, and strong brand recognition. When Porsche goes racing, people pay attention, and it makes sense for a company like Chopard to have their name on the car. With Chopard's focus on the Mille Miglia for 30 years, it's easy to see why they would be interested in Porsche as a branding partner, because Porsche's early racing history is indelibly inked all over the Brescia-Rome route. Porsche, like Chopard, has always had one eye on the future, and one eye aimed at their own history, aiming to always improve, but not lose the soul of what makes their products special.
These days, you can find the Chopard logo on the mirrors and rear quarters of Porsche's Le Mans-winning, WEC-competing, LMP1 car, the 919 Hybrid. The Chopard signage is part of the company's commitment to Porsche as their official timing partner. Being that Chopard was also an instrumental part of Porsche's Rennsport Reunion V, the connection between the two companies seems to be strengthening every day.
As Porsche owners, it is generally well known that we like our timepieces. There are countless watch-related discussions on numerous Porsche forums, in Porsche magazines, and even right here on FLATSIXES.com. If there were a venn diagram comparing "Porsche Enthusiast" with "Timepiece Connoisseur", it would be almost exactly a circle. We are the kind of people that get excited about a Porsche 919 Hybrid special edition watch, or a Jacky Ickx special edition watch, and you've got to hand it to them, Chopard knows their target market well. Why would a company like Chopard team up with a company like Porsche? Because it makes all of the sense in the world.
In addition to Jacky Ickx, Chopard recently aligned themselves with Mark Webber as their newest brand ambassador. If their watches are good enough for a discerning fellow like Mr. Webber, then they're certainly good enough for you or I!
[Photos provided by Chopard, Sports Car Digest, Forbes, and Motorsport Retro]