17th – 18th June, New Bond Street, London
It was a typical British Summer’s day in London; the rain was lovely and warm!
Yet, we were not daunted from our rendezvous at the New Bond Street façade of Chopard’s flagship London Boutique after two years of expansion and refurbishment.
What a magnificent double fronted façade it is too; as they took on literally the shop next door and sympathetically renovated inside. The façade is protected from remodelling.
The guests from as far as USA, China and Singapore were unphased by the gentle whisper of falling rain because “fung shui” decrees that falling water is like “raining money” for business ventures.
There was a series of boutique events for ladies and gentlemen to celebrate the re-opening of the Chopard London Boutique.
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Chopard used to occupy just one building but now the enlarged boutique is set in two joined buildings on three floors of ritzy retail space. The entry ground floor shows off general items like basic jewellery, watches, accessories, handbags and fragrances. From there, as required, clients are directed either to the top floor for ladies’ haute jewellery and watches or to the secret lair in the basement for gentlemen’s L.U.C watches.
The Ladies’ Salon is sumptuously decorated with silk-padded walls and colourful upholstery to match the coloured gemstones and fancy diamonds that abound. Although there is a “house-style” for Chopard boutiques with the usual fireplace and floral arrangements, each location also has its own unique décor.
For the flagship London boutique in the heart of historic Mayfair, they brought in vintage wooden parquet floors and silk brocades for the walls to evoke Georgian décor brought forward to the 21st century.
The cool lighting brings out the best in the jewels and natural daylight floods in through impressive plate glass windows. Chopard Co-president and Art Director Caroline Scheufele was particularly proud of her latest space to show off her Chopard ‘jewel babies’ in the best light.
We reported on the magnificent Queen of Kalahari Collection and Caroline is determined that the right owner for the entire collection will be found. I asked her advice about coloured gemstones since new sources of emeralds in Africa and rubies from Mozambique and Greenland. With still 70-90% of the world’s best emeralds, Colombia still rules supreme. Untreated rubies from Myanmar are still good investments despite greater ease of trading since recent democratic changes there.
The best advice for AlphaLuxers is to get the largest, best quality, white diamond you can afford because that will always appreciate with time.
Cocktails in the Man Cave
The Gentlemen’s Lounge in the boutique basement is a most serene environment to relax in, ‘far from the madding crowd’ away from the streets of London. Chopard Co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele adroitly demonstrated this relaxed mien despite a week of arduous travel around Europe. The fine wines and spirits at hand are as expected from a group that also owns the wine and spirits purveyors ‘Le Caveau de Bacchus’ in Geneva, Gstaad and Gland.
On the pride of place mantlepiece, a gloriously British Racing Green model Formula 1 Racing Car is displayed. It is actually a mechanical digital clock with twin rotating disc displays. They are made in collaboration with a clock specialist and marketed by Chopard in keeping with Mr Scheufele’s passion for vintage racing cars and fine mechanical timekeepers.
L.U.C 1860 XPS London Boutique Edition (GBP 25,000)
We were shown the new 8-piece limited edition watch to commemorate the London Boutique. It harbours a wealth of secrets and symbols to unravel.
First, the box intimates at what lies within with the beehive motif engraved on a metal top plate.
Lifting the lid reveals another hint by way of an engraved rampant lion to denote Great Britain. The lion symbol is used by England (en passant) and Scotland (rampant) although the Scots prefer the mythical Unicorn and the Welsh have the red dragon but the Northern Irish have no heraldric animal.
The watch has an exceptionally refined hand-guilloché engraved grey dial with central honycomb motif. On the back, an equally guilloché officer-type back cover opens to reveal the ultra-thin L.U.C 96.01-L movement. The L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer epitomises the elegance and fine craftsmanship of Chopard Haute Horlogerie, transposed for the great British gentleman. Attired in white gold, this exquisite timepiece bearing both COSC and “Poinçon de Genève” certifications adorns the wrist with a blend of distinction and discretion.
This refined discretion is exemplified by the secret mystery only revealed by its hinged officer-type back cover.
The honeycomb motif on the outside of the back cover matches that of the dial. The pattern is enhanced by the light hitting different parts of the engraving to catch the eye. When the wearer presses the crown to open the back cover, a hinge allows opening at a precise 90° angle and to hold that position. It reveals the Rampant Lion engraved inside the cover that you only show when you wish and in good taste.
This slender ‘shield’ barely changes the volume of the watch that is only 7.7 mm thin nor its feel on-the-wrist. It merely serves to conceal the ultra-slim L.U.C 96.01-L movement, finished to the highest standards of Chopard Manufacture, within the vertical satin-brushed flanks of the elegant case.
The automatic winding movement with an engraved 22K gold micro-rotor, whose high inertia optimises efficiency to provide 65 hours of power reserve. All L.U.C models with a seconds display are certified by the Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).
You’ll get a warm welcome at Chopard London Flagship Boutique, 12-13 New Bond Street, London.
New Bond Street is the 3rd most expensive retail street in the world according to a Cushman & Wakefield’s ‘Main Streets Across The World’ report (November 2018). The annual report tracks 446 of the top retail streets around the globe and ranks the most expensive in 65 countries by prime rental value.
1. Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
2. Upper Fifth Avenue, New York City
3. New Bond Street, London
4. Avenue des Champs Elysees, Paris
5. Via Montenapoleone, Milan
If you can continue renting retail space on New Bond Street, you are amongst the best-of-the-best. Many lesser brands are considering relocating to nearby Regent Street but Chopard bucked the trend by doubling its frontage on New Bond Street.
Watchmaker vs Jeweller
Chopard started as a watchmaker in the Bernese Jura of Switzerland in 1860 and only expanded into jewellery after 1963, after being bought by the Scheufele family who were already jewellers and watchmakers since 1904.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web magazine. He was former CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).