Cover Caroline Scheufele, co-president and artistic director of Chopard (Photo: Chopard)

She’s watchmaking’s most glamorous woman, but Chopard’s Caroline Scheufele remains grounded. She tells Tatler about the new Happy Sport watch

Caroline Scheufele calls me from her office in Geneva. She’s Chopard’s co-president and artistic director, and has been preparing for the launch of the brand’s new limited-edition Happy Sport watch, which made its debut in 1993. “It’s become a watchmaking icon,” she tells me. “It’s had a few face lifts over the years and I thought it’s about time we go back to its roots.” The case and bezel maintain the watch’s steel appearance as well as its signature seven diamonds, which move freely between two sheets of sapphire crystal above the dial. This is a style that dates back to the original nearly 30 years ago, and which the rest of the industry didn’t look too kindly on.

“At that time, combining steel with diamonds was an absolute no-no,” Scheufele says. “Watchmakers thought that diamonds should only be set in platinum or 18-karat gold.” Scheufele’s decision to go against the grain inspired a trend that took the watchmaking world by storm. The Happy Sport was elegant and versatile; it looked as good on the tennis court as it did in the boardroom. And for its latest release, Scheufele’s team has given this watch some serious technical upgrades.

There will be two diamond-set editions of this watch, named Happy Sport the First, limited to 1,993 and 788 pieces respectively. They retain the original’s silver-toned dial with Roman hour-markers, as well as its iconic pebble-link bracelet. However, a revamped case, in the brand’s Lucent Steel A223 alloy, has been reduced to a refined 33 mm. Inside beats a new (well, for this watch) movement: the in-house, 148-part Calibre 09.01-C, which features automatic winding and a 42-hour power reserve. 

Scheufele, who wears a diamond-set Happy Sport in rose gold with a textured mother-of-pearl dial, reveals Julia Roberts will be the face of the watch.

“I asked myself, ‘Who in the world has the most beautiful smile?’ One woman immediately came to mind, and that was Julia Roberts.” Scheufele’s team doubted this was logistically possible. “They all looked at me like, ‘You must be crazy.’” But when Scheufele approached the actress, she was thrilled.

The pair met in Cannes during the 2016 film festival, where Roberts wore a necklace from Chopard’s Red Carpet collection that was set with a 52.76-carat emerald. “She said to me, ‘Oh, with a necklace like this I don’t need to wear shoes.’” The actress famously walked barefoot on the red carpet at the premiere of Money Monster, which was directed by Jodie Foster and starred George Clooney. “Julia’s such a happy person,” says Scheufele. “She’s so positive. She has a beautiful energy. I mean, who doesn’t love Pretty Woman?”

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Ahead of the launch, Scheufele admits to rewatching Roberts in Erin Brockovich and Notting Hill. Chopard has been an official partner of the Cannes Film Festival since 1998, and Scheufele chooses the event to debut her high jewellery creations annually. It was important, she says, to showcase the brand’s passion for the arts in the new Happy Sport campaign. “We had to have a feeling for cinema and glamour,” she says.

A self-professed perfectionist, it took Scheufele 18 months to develop Happy Sport the First. “I go back and forth a lot,” she laughs. “I’ll decide I want the dial a little darker or worry that the Roman numerals are too big.” One of her biggest accomplishments is seeing the Happy Sport transcend generations. “I met a young girl the other day while skiing in Gstaad,” she tells me. “She was around 17 years old and wearing the Happy Sport watch. She told me it had belonged to her grandmother, who had given it to her mother, who had given it to her.”

Scheufele wants to make the women who wear her watches happy. “This is more important now than ever. We have to get on with life, no matter what it throws at us,” she concludes. “Studies have shown that there are real health benefits to smiling, and I hope that the new Happy Sport watch will make people smile and feel positive.”

See also: Julia Roberts Is The New Face Of Chopard's Happy Sport Watch