Watch & Jewellery
WHEN DIAMONDS GO FREE-RANGE: Chopard's Happy Sport The First
Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of Chopard
Chopard's 'Happy Sport The First' is an homage to a design created by Caroline Scheufele nearly 30 years ago
Chopard's 'Happy Sport The First' is an homage to a design created by Caroline Scheufele nearly 30 years ago
Chopard's 'Happy Sport The First' is an homage to a design created by Caroline Scheufele nearly 30 years ago
Chopard's 'Happy Sport The First' is an homage to a design created by Caroline Scheufele nearly 30 years ago

It must be said that watchmakers and jewellers often take themselves too seriously. To be fair, it’s not a laughing matter when it comes to creating high-end wares that are valued in the regions of tens of thousands of dollars to even millions. But then in 1976, Chopard launched an idea called Happy Diamonds. The name couldn’t have been a better pick as the jeweller made us question if we ever considered the feelings of diamonds in the first place. (We’re guessing not.) It pitched the premise of 30 loose, polished and cut diamonds on the dial of a cushion-shaped wristwatch, knocking into each other like bumper cars in a rink. Never before has diamonds been presented in such a free-range environment, allowing it to move in tandem with the wrist actions of its wearer. In turn, these twirling diamonds would draw the attention of observers to its playful nature. This idea was said to have been the brainchild of Ronald Kurowski, an in-house  designer for Chopard, who was hiking in the Black Forest and was mesmerised by the sight of water droplets glittering against the backdrop of the sunlight. This led him to ponder about the concept of diamonds being free from any constraints. The technical challenge, however, was to present it in a way that doesn’t allow scratches over time on the dial or the sapphire crystal. The solution was to create a special housing for each stone so as to allow the individual diamonds to slide freely. When Chopard matriarch Karin Scheufele (mother of current co-president and artistic director Caroline Scheufele) saw the result of said wristwatch in 1976, she famously exclaimed: “These diamonds are happier when they are free.” And a name was birthed. Soon, Caroline’s entry into the family biz saw her expand the free-moving diamonds into jewellery in the ’80s, helping to win over new fans of Chopard’s wares. But it wasn’t until 1993 that she helped to create a stainless steel wristwatch that elevated the Happy Diamonds version, which was originally designed for men. Caroline wanted a version that wasn’t just restricted to a black tie flex. Enter the Happy Sport which fills that void of an everyday and every occasion wristwatch albeit with plenty of diamonds to go around. What is essentially different about the Happy Sport is that Caroline wanted to encase the diamonds between two sapphire crystals placed above the dial. This gives the illusion of the diamonds floating freely over the real estate, and doesn’t affect the movement of the hours and minute hands. It proved to be more than a big hit as Happy Sport is now a best-seller in its ranks with women around the world enamored by the way it sparks joy. Now, Chopard is reminiscing about that landmark moment nearly 30 years on. It is launching two special editions of the Happy Sport, nicknamed The First. Based on the original 33mm spec with a pebble-linked bracelet, both versions also reference the original idea of a crown and lugs set with blue cabochons. Chopard has also blessed it with an upgrade of its build, swapping run-of-the-mill stainless steel with what is known as Lucent Steel, an alloy that is said to be comparable to surgical steel. One version features a silver dial (limited to 1,993 pieces) while another is available in mother-of-pearl with a diamond-set bezel (limited to 788 pieces). And just because it is a ladies wristwatch, don’t expect Chopard to go soft on the mechanics. It has endowed these versions with a self-winding movement that has at least a 42-hour power reserve, which is good enough for it to be rested over the weekend. But why would you put happiness on the backburner?



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