Twenty years ago, Chopard presented its first Happy Sport diamond watch, a daring move by Caroline, Artistic Director and Co-President of the house, and her brother Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. This was something very unusual: a sporty watch with diamonds spinning across the dial.
It didn't take long for the idea to take hold, though. Caroline Scheufele, a young woman who knew what a fresh generation of luxury-lovers wanted, had created a winner. And this was no flash in the pan. As with all good design, the Happy Sport has thrived. Since 1993, each year new Happy Sports appear in novel and colourful forms.
Diamonds spinning around, freed from the constraints of metal claws, was an idea Caroline Scheufele's mother came up with. "Diamonds are happiest when they are free," said Karin Scheufele in the 1970s when the Happy Diamonds line of watches was created. How the diamonds spin so freely is a closely guarded secret, and the world has been fascinated with the result. As was Karin's daughter Caroline, who joined the watch company in 1976. Her very first sketch was a clown pendant with diamonds twirling around his body, and it was with this that she convinced her family to add jewellery to their watch offerings.
Caroline Scheufele grew up immersed in the world of watches: "After school I used to whizz up and down the corridors of the factory on a wheeled office chair. Later I was given little jobs to do like counting diamonds, so for me it has been natural to become part of the business. When I started working we just made watches, but today we are very well known for our jewellery. When I first had the idea of making jewellery my brother and father thought I was crazy, but they trusted me," admits Caroline Scheufele.
Perhaps the secret to the success of the Happy Sport comes from Caroline Scheufele's innate understanding of the business. "I design with the emotions and head of a woman, starting with the aesthetics and then looking at the mechanics. It is easier for women to understand what we might want, because you know it is true that men are from Mars."
Emboldened by the success of her jewellery designs, Caroline Scheufele then took the idea of free-spinning diamonds a step further. She wanted a sportier, younger watch to wear with jeans on the back of a motorcycle, echoing a more laid-back approach to luxury and the joie de vivre of her contemporaries.
And so the Happy Sport was born. From its first appearance in a round stainless steel case, the design has morphed and evolved to include the latest oval shape as well precious metals and even plastic. This year, a diamond-set 20th anniversary model, the Diamantissimo, was presented to mark two happy decades. "It shows how far the Happy Sport can go - from a plastic model to the most precious diamond-set example," muses Caroline Scheufele.