Monday 25 April, 2011 - 11:10 AM EDT
By the middle of the 16th Century the watchmaking industry started developing in Switzerland when the Huguenots, French Protestants who were members of the Reformed Church, established in the region. Geneva and later the region of the Jura soon became the epicentre of the watchmaking industry.
During the windy months of winter in the Swiss region of Jura, the country people dedicated their time to produce movements for Swiss precision pocket watches. Peasants received orders from Geneva through the Comptoirs, selling organizations which provided the peasants with the components of watch mechanisms in order to have them assembled. In spring, they collected the finished movements and started trading them. Until 1830, only watches with key mechanisms were produced in the region. In 1860 Louis Ulysse Chopard founded his company in the small village of Sonvilier. There is no record of the first year’s production but we know that, since then, it has produced watches that meet the highest standards of quality and precision. The first Chopard watch we know is a thick pocket watch with the signature Chopard e Sonviller.
In order to identify his production from the rest, L.U Chopard focused on quality and precision and developed the finest watches in Sonvilier. From the beginning of the 20th century on, domestic traditional watchmakers started disappearing gradually due to Industrial Revolution. Chopard decided that there was still a clientele for his watches and left to Eastern Europe. He visited Hungary, Poland and Russia and his watches reached CZar Nicholas II's court. In 1920 the company moved to Ginebra. The period between the two World Wars was critic for many watchmakers and jewellers, but not for L. U. Chopard, his son and their watches.
Louis Ulysse Chopard's grandson, André-Paul Chopard, was the head of the firm until 1963 when he met Karl Scheufele III -member of a family with a great reputation in the jewellery business- and, finding himself with no descendants, decided to leave the company in the young man's hands.
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