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Time Out



Thierry Chaunu is a punctual man. He has to be, since time is his business.

Not in the manner of the hard-boiled executive who grumbles about a rat race and embraces the clich, that time is money. No, for Chaunu time is beautiful, not an entity to be hoarded. He sees it as something to be enjoyed, admired and pondered, even as the seconds and minutes tick away.

Which is not to suggest that this amiable resident of Cos Cob is a man of leisure, free to idle as the hands of the clock spin around. On the contrary, as president of Chopard USA Limited, he is constantly on the go, traveling from Greenwich to New York, New York to Palm Beach, Los Angeles to Aspen, Paris to Geneva, and just about everywhere of note in between.

Chopard, which was established in 1860, is a Swiss-based designer of diamond jewelry and, more to the point, a manufacturer of highly esteemed wristwatches. Unlike, say, Rolex, which by some estimates produces upwards of a million timepieces every year, Chopard crafts about 70,000 watches annually, many of which are unique designs limited to runs of just a couple of hundred. This sense of exclusivity helps to explain why Chopard has developed an almost cultlike following, and why Thierry Chaunu so much enjoys the feeling of having time on his hands. "A mechanical watch has so many moving parts, all within a very small case," the brown-eyed, chestnut-haired president observes. He relates the machinery of a watch to the engine of a car, but notes that in the case of the former, that engine, while tiny by comparison, 'never stops working, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, under any conditions.' Mechanical timepieces, a Chopard specialty, are wind-up or kinetic (that is, self-winding) mechanisms rather than the battery-powered alternatives so ubiquitous today.

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