The current Co-president of Chopard was just five years old in 1963 when his father, Karl Scheufele III, at the time an ambitious young goldsmith and watchmaker from Germany, acquired the company. But Scheufele was never pushed into following his father’s lead, and as a boy he entertained more artistic pursuits in design and art, taking on a jewelry apprenticeship, traveling and developing a passion for classic cars. He also became interested in business, which he studied in Lausanne, northeast of Chopard’s current headquarters in the Geneva suburb of Meyrin.
“Over time, as I started learning more about the company, I realized it could easily combine these separate areas of interest,” he says.
When Scheufele became Co-president in 1985 with his sister Caroline, the company branched out into high-end jewelry and soon also began to engage in a series of high-profile — and highly personal — sponsorships.
“All our sponsorships are personal, based on a specific connection we have with the event,” Scheufele says. “We participate personally, which is probably not very common. I participate in the Mille Miglia, for example, and my sister spends 10 days a year in Cannes. She’s there for the whole festival.”
This personal involvement is characteristic of the family business, which benefits from the ability to make decisions quickly and to focus on long-term vision rather than short-term profitability. Scheufele says many family-run companies suffer from allowing bloodlines to turn into a kind of entitlement. But that does not happen at Chopard.
“Being part of the family doesn’t entitle you to anything,” he says. “Family must prove itself like everyone else, and we all abide by the rules we have put in place.”
But in providing a personal touch to their products the Scheufeles remain true to the traditions of the Chopard brand, producing the watch movements themselves and naming it after the company’s founder, Louis-Ulysses Chopard.
It is a winning formula that, not surprisingly, has earned the luxury brand high standing among the world’s rich and famous, with boutiques in more than 100 countries from Vietnam to Argentina and Kazakhstan to Morocco.
To read the full interview with Karl-Friedrich Scheufele visit ey.com/exceptional