Elton John Shows Us That Vintage Chopard Is Worth A Revisit

Last Wednesday saw the opening sale of Elton John’s “Goodbye Peachtree Road” auction at Christie’s. Some very Elton John-looking things included a pair of silver platform boots emblazoned with large red E and J initials that went for $94,500 and a leopard Rolex Daytona that sold for $176,400. The 900+ lots (some of which are yet to be auctioned off this week) are a largely opulent mix of personal belongings that span from Versace porcelain dinnerware to sequin embellished stage costumes and into one of the most comprehensive modern collections of photography to ever be sold by a sole owner. All of this preamble to say that Elton John is not just a kooky lover of camp but an unduly curious collector. A bon vivant who embraces his eccentricity and with no calculated agenda for (fashionable) irony. He earnestly likes what he likes. It’s a liberated approach.
Having attended the preview a couple of weeks back and sifting through a sapphire-set Cartier Tank Normale, a diamond-set Lange Saxonia, a Vacheron shutter watch, and about 20-odd other very exuberant timepieces, I happened upon my favorite of Elton’s watches – a yellow gold sapphire and diamond-set Chopard Imperiale chronograph. It was so ornate, so frivolous, so Liberace, that it triggered my I-remember-why-I-do-what-I-do-professionally alarm. Suddenly, I wanted all watches to be mildly gaudy and gem-set and obscurely shaped (Pasha shaped in this instance). I wanted glamor, not restraint.

Speaking of frivolity, there was a large diamond skull adorned Chopard watch from Elton’s collection that could be perceived as a flagrant disregard for tasteful, dare-I-say-it quiet luxury. I prefer to think of it as a wondrous ability to lean into an aesthetic of which others might be naturally disdainful —sort of like how kids are happy to wear costumes in public on days other than Halloween.

These very eccentric Replica Chopard watches led me down a very long late-night Chopard-themed internet trawl. I needed to find out what other precious nuggets were hiding in the Chopard jewelry watch crossover archive. I had seen geometric stone dial watches from the ’70s and Happy Diamond heart-shaped watches from the ’90s, but I figured there must be more undiscovered and little-talked-about gems out there. Cartier, Bulgari, Piaget, and Boucheron have all, until fairly recently, been nose snubbed as “jewelry brands.” Is it time for a similar watch-enthusiast light to hit Chopard?
In 1984, in the wake of the original Saint Moritz model, Chopard launched a St. Moritz Rainbow watch set with diamonds and colored gemstones. This was incredibly early to the mark for rainbow setting. Of course, the rainbow Rolex Cellini likely came before at the very beginning of the decade.

Chopard played with a lot of the same design ideas as our favorite brands in the ’70s and ’80s. Massively under-appreciated and often denigrated to a league Toretto likes to call “Fantasy watches,” these watches were legitimate executions of gem-setting like Rolex and metal smithing on bracelets and cases like Piaget and Patek. I encourage you to go on a Chopard hunt and embrace your eccentric side, like Elton. Look for a little vintage freedom in the face of modern conformity.

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