In this month of romance, we look to the “artisan of emotions” for horological expressions of love and happiness. Launched in 1993, Chopard’s Happy Sport collection was the first to combine diamonds with a stainless-steel case. But the idea for the range dates back to 1976, when in-house designer Ronald Kurowski created the rather “disco” Happy Diamonds as a men’s dress watch. The diamonds floating between two sapphire crystals inside a round-cornered, square case were inspired by water droplets from a waterfall glistening in the sunshine. Kurowski had seen one on a forest hike. This one-off piece had no fewer than 30 gold-cuffed diamonds “dancing” on a black onyx stage.
However, our featured 36mm Happy Sport “Happy Palm” for women takes its cue from an elaborate Métiers d’art piece created in 2018 as a limited edition of 25, which retails for around R1.3-million, to celebrate Chopard’s partnership with the Cannes International Film Festival since 1998 and the prestigious Palme d’Or award.
With Pantone proclaiming 17-5104 Ultimate Grey and 13-0647 Illuminating (yellow) as its Colour of the Year selections for 2021, the two-tone steel and 18-carat yellow-gold case of the Happy Palm also seems a fortuitous pairing. According to Pantone, this is “an aspirational colour pairing, conjoining deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine-filled day”, and hope for a better year ahead, no doubt. These sentiments, I’m sure, will be shared by the manufacture with joie de vivre as one of its founding principles, as well as being a reminder of Kurowski’s original sparkling vision. This spirit is also so elegantly captured in the movement of the five mobile diamonds and gold palm leaf as they gracefully dance about the dial with each gesture of the wrist.
Expressing love for the planet and humans, Chopard is committed to using only 100% ethical gold in its jewellery and watches. It is also working with the Swiss Better Gold Association to source gold from the Barequeros in El Chocó in Colombia. These artisanal gold miners, 46% of whom are women, use methods that also ensure the protection of the region’s unique biodiversity. Chopard has maintained Responsible Jewellery Council Code of Practices certification since 2012, ensuring respect for human rights, labour rights, environmental protection, and full product disclosure.
With water resistance to 30m and 42-hour power reserve, the Happy Palm is a practical everyday sports luxe timepiece. I’d have liked to see this piece presented on a metal bracelet, maybe even one of the original pebble mesh designs. But along with palm trees and setting suns, its white alligator strap plays into current ’70s revival themes and is just as suitably stylish. A yellow-gold bezel set with 38 white diamonds frames the mother-of-pearl dial with its guilloché centre and bold, gold Roman numerals. The characteristically exaggerated lug screw heads and the crown are also crafted in yellow gold. Its self-winding, Sellita-based SW300 mechanical movement is on view through a sapphire caseback. Limited to 250, the Happy Palm retails for around R275,000.
• Visit Chopard or call Boutique Haute Horlogerie 011-325-4119
• From the February edition of Wanted, 2021.