Karl-Friedrich Scheufele – pictured above with his father Karl and his son Karl-Fritz – joined the family business founded by his father in the 1980s, and designed the company’s first sports watch at the tender age of 22. Now, 40 years on, he welcomes his own son into the business, a dynamic young man with dreams to revive the very same sports watch collection his father started. Robb Report UK talks to Karl-Friedrich about how it feels to return full circle to the watch that launched his career, as well as the importance of family and creating a sustainable company for future generations.
How did it feel to relaunch your very first collection?
Forty years ago, I was young and excited to launch the St Moritz watch. Forty years later, I feel complete, watching my son convince me to reinterpret the Saint Moritz and launch the Alpine Eagle collection. The Alpine Eagle collection is a project that is very dear to me as it is the first time that my father, my son and myself have worked together on a new watch. I believe that it is quite unique in the industry to have three generations of the same family co-developing a new creation.
What would you say you have learned the most in these 40 years?
To be patient – I believe in Auguste Rodin’s famous words: “Ce que l’on fait avec le temps, le temps le respecte” [What one does with time, time respects].
What are the benefits of running a family business?
Being in a family-owned, independent company is one of our main strengths and this is clearly an advantage. As one of the last family Maisons in the Haute Horlogerie and High Jewellery field, we can pursue long-term visions and projects without having to please investors seeking short-term profit. While we put a lot of emphasis on innovation and creativity, we strongly believe that tradition, respect of heritage and exceptional artisanship contribute to our success. We develop collections with passion. When entering a Chopard boutique, customers can feel the family dimension. This enables us to provide a privileged contact and added “customer experience”, which is also the case inside our Manufacture, where our staff members appreciate the family atmosphere.
What inspired you to start The Eagle Wings Foundation?
I was inspired by my late friend, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, who founded the Alp Action initiative that I joined in the 2000s. Spending a lot of time in the mountains, I have always been deeply concerned by the Alps’ fauna and flora and the changes that are occuring. Being a family Maison, transferred from generation to generation, my family is very sensitive about the world our children will live in.
How important is sustainable luxury to Chopard?
We started the “Journey to sustainable luxury” in 2013 and since then, we have been aiming to increase our sustainabile approach to all aspects of our business. In our times, it is imperative that the luxury business leads the way when it comes to more transparency. Ethics have always been an important part of our family philosophy. 2018 was a special milestone as we committed to using 100 per cent ethical gold for the production of all our watches and jewellery starting from July. It was a bold commitment, but one that we have to pursue if we are to make a difference to the lives of people who make our business possible. We’ve been able to achieve this because more than 40 years ago, we developed vertically integrated in-house production, and invested in mastering all crafts internally, from creating a rare in-house gold foundry as early as 1978 to integrating the skills of high-jewellery artisans and expert watchmakers.
You are as passionate about cars as you are about watch movements – what is it about mechanics that you love so much?
When you appreciate a beautiful, complicated movement, you admire the craftsmanship behind it, the time the artisan has spent on each piece. Classic cars are similar. I enjoy the roar of a classic car’s engine as much as I do the tick-tock from a precious timepiece.
You also own a vineyard, are refurbishing a Paris hotel and have opened a wine bar, also in Paris – how do you find the time?
When you are deeply passionate about something you don’t count the hours…
What makes you the happiest?
Spending time with my family.