We continue on our tête-à-tête with Chopard co-President and F. Berthoud President, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (KFS). In Part 1, we explored the origins of the L.U.C manufacture and the lessons learnt. And in this article, we chat about Chopard’s involvement in the Qualitie Fleurier Foundation, the support for Fairmined Gold, and Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud.
We explored the Qualitie Fleurier Foundation and her work in an impressions review on the LU. Chopard Qualité Fleurier. In essence, the Qualité Fleurier, La Haute Horlogerie certifiée is awarded to watches which passes one of the most stringent testing regiments in the watchmaking industry. A series of three very rigorous tests are performed on the candidate watches. These tests are outlined here.
We asked KFS what he felt about the QF certification, and Chopard’s involvement. He revealed that Chopard is still the company with the largest number of watches which are QF Certified. The rationale behind the QFF, where Chopard is a founding member, is more driven than a passion for excellence rather than real hard business.
With a wink in his eye, he hinted that the Foundation is currently driven strongly by the engineering team and has perhaps taken a life of its own. Hinting perhaps that some of the tests are getting so stringent that it is sometimes might get in the way of good business, as it is expensive to perform and conform. And yet, as a testament that he sees this certification’s technical importance, Chopard continues to support the QFF. Passing the stringent testing ensures excellence of products.
Not all Chopard watches are certified, it would be impossibly expensive and time consuming to do so. But the QFF facility is used as a research tool to push the envelope. KFS tells us this is particularly useful during the prototyping process and ensures the very high level of excellence is been applied to all products.
Equally as impressive is KFS’s support of worthy causes like the one championed by the Fairmined Gold Organization. Fairmined is an assurance label that certifies gold from empowered responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organizations who meet world leading standards for responsible practices.
KFS told us that the Fairmined gold cost about 10% more than regular gold. As Chopard owns and operates its own precious metal foundry in Geneva, the challenge of the use of Fairmined gold is in the added layers of complications in its handling. Additional care need to be paid to its handling to ensure that it does not get mixed with regular gold. And physical separation is needed in the foundry and facilities handling the gold.
It strikes us that in their support of the Fairmined Gold project, the Scheufeles are also a very conscious of their social responsibility, and are keen to do what is right. Which can sometimes run in counter from the pursuit of pure profits. And that, we find is testament to the great character of KFS and the Scheufele family.
As we moved on to the Fredinand Berthoud project, we are once again reminded the great passion of the man. As Chopard was already very successful then, there was certainly no real need to create new successes in business. But he was passionate about watchmaking and the history. And Ferdinand Berthoud was one of the early watchmaking heros who captivated his imagination. He acquired several pieces for the L.U.Ceum, a special museum KFS created in the heart of the Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier.
The passion resulted in the pursuit to acquire the brand name, which he did in 2006. We covered the story in our detailed review of the F. Berthoud FB-1 wristwatch, please click on the link for details on how this happened, and a full review of the FB-1.
Of course, we asked KFS what’s next for Berthoud. His reply was a smile which let out that a second watch, the FB-2 will be unveiled to the public in 2018/2019. While he refused to divulge any more information on the FB-2, he confirmed that it will be a complicated watch, in the vein and spirit of the early F. Berthoud watches.
The motivation behind Berthoud was also not initiated by profit, but by passion. With the backing of the Chopard Manufacture, without which the brand would never have been revived, KFS expressed that he is not in a hurry with the Berthoud brand. The values of Chopard and Ferdinand Berthoud are very much aligned. The Berthoud watches will be always a niche product, to showcase expertise and virtuosity. And winning Aiguille d’or prize for GPHG 2016 was a nice feather in the cap that KFS had not expected.
End of Part 2. In Part 3…
We delved a little deeper into of personality and passions of KFS, especially his love for vintage cars, his affection for fine wines and his great passion for watchmaking.