The Chopard Happy Sport Medium Automatic captures all of the fun and quality of previous iterations but adds a new mechanical movement for the delectation of discerning wearers.
Ref 274808-5003 – 18-carat rose gold with diamond-set bezel
Sometimes in life we witness flourishes of fun expressed in the form of semi-disposable trinkets. We have all at some point purchased small items which have a smile-inducing design, but sadly no substance.
I remember items purchased in my youth that had some aspect that attracted my attention, only to find that beneath the veneer there was little value. Their absence of quality and distinct lack of longevity ultimately rendered them to the waste bin.
It seems sometimes that items which are intrinsically fun often lack merit. However, this is evidently not the case with Chopard, the Genevan brand synonymous with sophistication and glamour. They have produced many products which are intrinsically fun, yet show a serious obsession for quality and exacting craftsmanship.
In 1993, Chopard launched “Happy Sport” and an icon was born. It was the creative genius of Caroline Scheufele, Artistic Director and Co-President of Chopard, and her incredible ingenuity, that resulted in this watch coming to fruition. It has become known for its dial where diamonds freely float above the hands of time.
The illusion is created by employing an invisible cavity between two panes of sapphire crystal. The diamonds, often framed in gold, are able to freely move in one plane i.e. parallel to the dial, but the tolerances are such that they cannot topple onto their sides. This attention to detail ensures that the diamonds appear to dance playfully but at the same time maintain decorum.
Over the years, the feminine timepiece has proved commercially very successful and includes some accessible variants within the range.
Now, this contemporary timepiece enjoys its 20th anniversary and Chopard, a company that never misses the opportunity for a celebration, has chosen to mark the anniversary with a new model.
The Happy Sport Medium Automatic captures all of the fun and quality of previous iterations but adds a new mechanical movement for the delectation of discerning wearers.
Chopard, a brand often linked with motorsport, have pushed the performance envelope with this latest model.
The dial features a central area decorated with silver-toned guilloché. Whilst the watch has a contemporary character, this aspect of the design pays due reverence to watchmaking tradition. Geneva has always had a rich history in producing luxury watches and I applaud Chopard for referencing this within the design.
Ref 274808-3001 – stainless steel
Ref 274808-3003 – stainless steel with diamond-set bezel
There is an intrinsic risk when a design fuses tradition and modernity, that the message will be confused and the outcome disjointed. Not so with the Happy Sport Medium Automatic which is sublimely coherent.
Potential purchasers have a broad choice of models to choose from including stainless steel case versions, gem adorned models and, my personal favourite, an 18-carat rose gold watch presented on a rose gold bracelet. Indeed, it is this latter model which is the focal point of my watch review.
Ref 274808-5002 – 18-carat rose gold with 18-carat rose gold bracelet
The golden hour, minute and seconds hands have a luscious tone, yet never feel ostentatious. The dial is marked with gold-toned applied batons, save for 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock and noon, where Roman numerals are used. Both the batons and the numerals feature curvaceous vertical lines, reinforcing the femininity of the design.
A date aperture features at 4.30. The date is shown in black text against a white background providing refined legibility.
Framing the dial is a chapter ring, depicted in blue. The colour is repeated for the words indicating the place of origin, the self-winding status of the movement and the brand’s nomenclature. The colour sits in pleasing accord with the silver-toned canvas of the dial and the adjacent golden hues of the hands and hour markings.
I have visited the Manufacture in Meyrin as well as two other Chopard factories in Meyrin. The company wholeheartedly embraces vertical integration. Few aspects of the watches and jewellery which bear the Chopard soubriquet, are made externally.
Once, whilst visiting Meyrin, I remember seeing gold bars being precisely mixed with palladium, copper and silver to produce ingots of 18-carat rose gold. Few haute horology brands cast their own gold, but then few companies are quite like Chopard.
Chopard have made the case, crown, lugs, bracelet and clasp all in-house. Whilst they make several models, which bring both polished and satin-brushed surfaces together, in this instance they have sought to present the case predominantly in pristine polished perfection. The chosen finish sits with the flamboyant character of the watch.
The bracelet has weight and substance to complement its pleasing form. It has a rich indulgent hue. I still recall observing a gentleman repeatedly checking and adjusting clasps, at the manufacture, to ensure they closed with a light, yet positive action.
The octagonal shaped bolts bring the case and bracelet together in steadfast union, reinforcing the sense of quality and virtue.
A blue cabochon resides within the epicentre of the crown. There are numerous details to delight, yet nothing seems superfluous, with all aspects coming together in synergistic splendour.
I often talk to watch executives and I am frequently told that market research shows female Asian buyers prefer the simplicity of quartz. Moreover, they are said to be more interested in the aesthetics of the watch presented. I must admit, this saddens me and I still wonder whether this is actually the case.
A watch is an ensemble of micromechanics with parts on the finest watches coalescing in spellbinding beauty. I feel an emotional connection with a mechanical movement, seeing numerous parts quietly conspiring to impart time.
Recently an editor asked me to compile a list of watches I would purchase if I were a woman. Firstly, they would have to be mechanical and ideally they should allow me to see the movement within, courtesy of a sapphire caseback. With these two criteria, Chopard have fulfilled my wishes. Notwithstanding this, they have sated another horological need that I have. I adore seeing a finely finished movement.
The rotor in this watch is beautifully adorned with Côtes de Genève motif and the bevelling on the bridges is magnificent. There is much merit within the case and whilst it does not pretend to be finished to the elevated standards of Chopard L.U.C, it does example some meritorious details.
Next week I complie my submit to an editor my favourite 10 ladies watches and the rationale for my choice. The Happy Sport Medium Automatic will definitely appear on that list.
The styling is brave and bold. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it appeals to me. Moreover, it captures Ms Scheufele’s vivacious personality and zest for life with its dancing diamonds that evoke a sense of beguiling charm.
I am smitten with the appearance of the watch and I particularly appreciate the guilloché on the dial. However, most of all I admire the mechanical heart which beats at 4 Hertz, presented in matchless form. It imparts emotion and passion with every movement of the oscillating balance.
Model: Chopard Happy Sport Medium Automatic
Case: 18-carat rose gold; diameter 36.00 mm; height 12.08 mm; water resistance – 3 Bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback
Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date.
Movement: Calibre SW300; Self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve 52 hours
Bracelet:18-carat rose gold bracelet on a deployant.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.