By Rebecca Doulton in Madrid
A collector of vintage cars, a racer and sponsor of two of the most prestigious classic car racing events, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele's passion for automobiles verges on obsession. The beauty of his obsession, however, is that he can integrate it seamlessly into his official job as co-president of Chopard, finding inspiration in the aesthetics of boys' favourite toys and enjoying the exposure afforded by historical racing events.
Since 1988, the Scheufele family - including father and owner of Chopard, Karl Scheufele III - has been supporting and racing the Mille Miglia, which covers 1,000 miles from Brescia to Rome and back. Limited to cars constructed between 1927 and 1957, the picturesque route draws classic car fanatics from all over the world.
This year, Scheufele and his good friend, the racing car phenomenon Jacky Ickx, took turns at the wheel of a Porsche 550A Spyder RS during the Mille Miglia. What's more, Albert Carreras, son of the famous tenor, drove a Mercedes Benz 300SL belonging to Scheufele's collection of vintage cars.
The 2014 Chopard Mille Miglia Chronograph watch honours the Italian race by incorporating the colours of the Italian flag with green, white and red details on the dial. Its undeniable vintage appeal has been enhanced by cursive dial fonts from the 1920s and a brown calfskin strap that will remind aficionados of the bonnet straps used to keep the hood of an engine secured. Available in a limited edition of 2,014 watches in stainless steel and 250 in rose gold, both models feature an in-house, COSC-certified self-winding mechanical movement.
One race leads to another and, in 2002, Chopard committed itself to sponsor and time the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique - the legendary race in which historical Formula I cars from the 1920s to 1985 tear around the hairpin bends of Monte Carlo. For each edition of the race, Chopard has created a limited-edition watch. This year has been exceptional in the launch of not one but an entire collection of Chopard watches called Grand Prix de Monaco Historique (GPMH).
Composed of the GPMH Automatic, the GPMH Power Control with power-reserve indicator in the form of a petrol gauge at 6 o'clock and the GPMH Chronograph, the watches are all COSC-certified. Housed in 44.5mm titanium and stainless steel cases, the racy yellow details on the tachymetre and hands of the chronograph counters are designed to transport petrol heads directly to the asphalt circuit. For dressier occasions, there is a rose gold model combined with titanium and steel. The aerated black calfskin strap gives the watch a great sporting touch, although a metal bracelet or stripy yellow and black NATO strap are also available.
Earlier this year, Chopard became the official timing partner of Porsche Motorsport - a strategic alliance to celebrate the German automaker's long-awaited return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its new 919 Porsche Hybrid. Naturally, 'Mr Le Mans', aka Jacky Ickx - longstanding Chopard ambassador and six-time winner of the Le Mans race at the wheel of a Porsche - was on hand for the event.
To celebrate its partnership with Porsche, the Swiss watchmaker launched the Chopard Superfast Chrono Porsche 919 Edition watch. Every inch as racy as the car, it combines the sophisticated functions of a flyback chronograph with the accuracy required to obtain a COSC chronometer certification.
With its imposing 45mm case, the silvery coloured stainless steel case echoes the bodywork of the racing car and features the red Porsche 919 logo at 9 o'clock. Underneath the chassis, an equally impressive engine, fuelled by an in-house mechanical self-winding movement, will keep the chronograph functions, time and date running for 60 hours. Limited to 919 pieces, racing car fans will appreciate the slick-tyre finish of the rubber strap.