It takes quite a bold move to create a surprise, or something different within the women’s watch world. A dial adorned with feathers or micro-mosaics? Done. An interchangeable strap that wraps around the wristmultiple times? Done. A rainbow palette of sapphires set around the bezel? Done.
Watchmakers and jewellers Chopard are always striving for ‘firsts’ both in creativity and innovation, and this year they can celebrate the anniversary of one of their most important. In 1993 they launched the Happy Sport, a watch that arguably changed the face of women’s ‘casual’ timepieces.
Here, loose diamonds were sandwiched between two slivers of sapphire crystal to skit and dance across the dial. Floating diamonds as such weren’t new – in 1976 Karin Scheufele (mother of Caroline Scheufele, Chopard’s co-president and artistic director) first introduced the concept.
But to mix diamonds in this way with a steel watch, combining such a utilitarian functional material with the glamour and dressiness of the most covetable stone – this was new and unexpected.
Today the combination seems totally appropriate and normal; after-all sporty watches can now quite conceivably be entirely gem-set. To celebrate 25 years Chopard have refreshed their offering, both inside and out.
A trio of mother-of-pearl dials in soft pastels – silvery grey, blush pink and a pale blue – conceal a brand new Chopard movement, the self-winding Chopard Manufacture 09.01-C (how refreshing that something so pretty isn’t compromised on mechanics). Five diamonds skid across the dial, of course; opt for a gem-set or more spartan unadorned bezel.
The oval shaped case continues its quiet comeback (last offered in the range in 2011), with a new iteration, again with a self-winding movement – the rose-gold version on a navy strap is beautifully understated. Or go all out in your celebrations and opt for one of three limited-edition métiers d’art editions, with only 25 of each being made.
Hand sculpted gold palm fronds on one pay homage to Chopard’s contribution to the Cannes Film festival – they make the coveted Palme D’Or. Or go oceanic with a delicately rendered fish, swimming in a backdrop of sapphires (just don’t try diving in it). Or finally a deftly frosted snow-set diamond version, perfect for ice-queens.
But for all this embellishment and obvious skill purists should settle for a very lovely grey guilloche dial version in pink gold on a pink-gold bracelet. This is what Happy Sport is really about – a classic, simple design with just the perfect amount of zingly sparkle to lift it easily from the functional to the genuinely special.
As Caroline Scheufele says, “the strength of the Happy Sport is that you can wear it all day long, with any outfit, and this is precisely why I designed it.”