Man And Machine

by Victor Chen
Photos courtesy of Chopard
12 Jul 2017

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is in an enviable position where he enjoys his two passions: automobiles and watches

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s interest in motoring developed early and special memories associated with it resurface to this day. “I remember a rather special drive when I was still going to kinder garden,” he shares. “It was not long at all but it thoroughly impressed me at the time. Chopard had an important representative of our brand in Austria who owned a Jaguar E-type, the ultimate sports car in those days, and imagine, he took me to the kinder garden with that car. As it was a two-seater, I sat in front and was incredibly proud!”

Born in Germany in 1958, Karl-Friedrich began school at Pforzheim until he left for boarding school in Geneva at the age of 15. He eventually earned his baccalaureate, and worked as an apprentice with a jeweller in Geneva before attending the Ecole des Haute Etudes Commerciales in Lausanne. Today, he is part of Chopard’s management, and is responsible for marketing, advertising, and communication. He is also actively involved in the development of new watches.

Despite his commitment to work, his passion for motoring has not taken a backseat. It has fuelled instead his interest in collecting cars, pre- and post-war English and German cars, including Bentley, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, and Mini Cooper being his focus, as well as in car racing. He has been a regular participant at Mille Miglia, the punishing 1,000-mile rally from Brescia to Rome and back, for which Chopard has been a longstanding sponsor.


An Early Start

At the age of 18, Karl-Friedrich got his first car – a yellow Volkswagen Beetle – but he had always dreamed of owning a Porsche 356 B Cabriolet. He was lucky enough to find one not long after, when he was 25 years old. “It was still a Porsche, but it was not in a very good state; unfortunately, the restoration costs were so high that I had to give it up,” he admits.

“As far as I remember, I have always been passionate about cars. My father is a classic car collector himself and he definitely inspired me to start my own collection.” Nobody knows how many cars Karl-Friedrich has in his collection – “Not even my wife,” he adds with a smile – but its focus is more sports car-oriented. His father, on the other hand, prefers the more comfortable cars.

“No doubt the pride of my collection is the 911 Carrera RS, 1973. Then there is a pre-war Aston Martin Ulster 1935, and a 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza sports racer, which I also consider to be highlights. I honestly don’t know what will be my next acquisition, and I unfortunately lack time to presently enjoy my cars.

“I can perform very simple maintenance work, and I understand what is going on underneath the bonnet, but again, I lack the time to indulge in this kind of activity.”


A Natural Connection

In 1987, Karl Friedrich went to Italy to discover the Mille Miglia. “I was impressed by the atmosphere, the authenticity of the vintage cars, and thought that it would be a great opportunity for classic racing and watches to naturally be combined.” After meeting the organizers, Chopard became an Official Sponsor of the race for the first time in 1988 and launched the Mille Miglia watch collection.

For Karl-Friedrich classic cars and watchmaking share a natural connection. They both emphasize the same attention to detail, precision, and quality, as well as a sporty elegance. Devotees of fine automobiles tend to have a flair for quality mechanical timepieces, he observes, and vice versa. “In both cases, styling and the quest for performance play a decisive role. Lifting the hood of a car provides an understanding of what is going on inside the engine, and the same goes for horological mechanisms that can be admired through a watch case-back,” he says.


From Collecting to Racing

Although he has not entered circuit races, Karl-Friedrich regularly participates in classic cars rallies: He has taken part in the Mille Miglia more than 25 times, and looks forward to joining every year. “The Mille Miglia is a regular event and my dream remains to participate one day in the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique."

“So far, I have promised my wife not to do serious circuit racing,” he says, “but we will see later on.”

At Mille Miglia, Karl-Friedrich drives with his wife or his close friend Jacky Ickx on a variety of Mille Miglia-eligible cars. Every year, Chopard creates a limited edition Mille Miglia Chronograph, which over time has become a much thought-after collector’s item. This year, he took part with French racing driver Romain Dumas, winner of the Le Mans 24 hours race in 2016. This year, too, Chopard launched the Mille Miglia 2017 Race Edition featuring an engine-turned dial and counters inspired by historical car dashboards.

Next year, as the partnership between Chopard and Mille Miglia marks its 30th anniversary, Karl-Friedrich is already hinting at exciting things to come.