Why a watchmaker organising classic car rallies in Dubai

How watchmaker Chopard and its co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele are going above and beyond timepieces to celebrate classic cars and art
By Lubna Hamdan
Thu 18 Jan 2018 04:06 PM

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele drives up to the Burj Khalifa in a 1973 Porsche 911. To his right purrs a 1949 Bentley. To his left, there’s the squat aggression of a 1985 Renault 5 GT Turbo 2.

The trio of vintage automobiles is among 30 participating in the Chopard Classic Car Rally around the streets of Dubai.

In his iconic 911, Scheufele is not only a keen participant, he is also the man behind the event, the first time it has taken place.

His day job, though, is as the co-president of luxury watch and jewellery maker Chopard, the 158-year-old Swiss firm that has continued to expand its brand across a number of luxury categories, from fragrances to leather goods.

So why is a watchmaker organising classic car rallies? The answer, according to Scheufele, is a rather simple “Why not?”

“Big men’s toys are obviously cars, but also watches. Both are about performance, prestige and precision,” he says. “There are a lot of similarities between someone who seriously collects classic cars and someone who collects mechanical watches. As a company, we realised this very early on.”

It has been precisely 30 years since the family firm developed a relationship with vintage cars, often partaking in races and rallies around the world. The Dubai event, held in November, brought together 60 drivers from around the world to drive from the city towards the northern emirates of Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.

In line with the event, Chopard launched a 20-piece limited edition, the L.U.C Time Traveler One: Time of the Desert, produced with a refined sand-coloured dial inspired by the UAE’s golden dunes. The watches are part of the LUC collection, named after the initials of the brand’s founder Louis-Ulysse Chopard and created with the daring Emirati traveller in mind. The series, which also highlighted Dubai on the world time scale, quickly sold out.

Chopard also manufactured a limited edition Mille Miglia model for its local partner Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons, which features Chopard written in Arabic.

While classic cars and watches are often marketed as investment opportunities, for Scheufele the only reason to buy something is because you love it. He owns 30 classic cars himself, he says, and he “never bought the cars for speculation or investment.”

“Anything you collect, collect it first because you personally like it, not because you want to sell it off at a later date,” he insists.

That said, if customers are buying either for future investment purposes, the co-president recommends looking for unique features, and asking the question, “Could this be a classic of tomorrow?”

Obviously a man with a good eye, Scheufele also says he started a company art collection a few years ago – with all the pieces referencing or somehow relating to time. It’s that marriage of precision and prestige again, with perhaps an added dose of personal passion. Quite what is contained in this “sizeable” collection has not yet been publicised and Scheufele remains tight-lipped on its value, but promises to reveal more soon.

For now, however, he has a Porsche to enjoy. And, of course, a multi-million dollar company to run.

Watch list

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s favourite pieces

Mille Miglia GTS Automatic Speed Black
“One of my all-time favourites is this piece from The Classic Racing collection that celebrates Mille Miglia race cars. It comes with a symbolic rubber strap inspired by 1960s Dunlop rubber tire treads. So this watch with an all-black dial is one of my favourites.”

L.U.C Perpetual T
“I really like our LUC perpetual tourbillon watch, which I think is one of the most interesting complicated watches we have had in our collection. It has an excellent 216-hour power reserve, whose indicator is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback.”

L.U.C Full Strike
“I always get to wear prototypes, so today I’m wearing a watch that just won the top prize in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the LUC Full Strike, which is our first ever minute repeater. And I have the prototype on my wrist. I get to test it, which is great fun.”

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