Today, watches that combine steel and diamonds do not seem like a particularly revolutionary concept, but Chopard was the first to mix these materials when it presented the Happy Sport in 1993. Conceived by Chopard co-president Caroline Scheufele, the timepiece is truly iconic not just for being the first to unite hardy steel and dazzling bling, but for its playful design, which sees diamonds — almost always in odd numbers — dancing freely around the dial.

Happy Sport is the descendant of Happy Diamonds, which was launched in 1976. Even though both use Chopard’s “dancing diamonds”, which are held within gold capsules with a bevelled base that allows them to spin freely, Happy Diamonds is distinguished by diamonds that move around the rim of the watch. In Happy Sport watches, however, the spinning stones are placed between two pieces of sapphire crystal above the dial, which gives rise to a more integrated aesthetic that we prefer.

1993 Chopard Happy Sport
The first Happy Sport from 1993.

The difficulty in realising this concept was to ensure that the resultant design would not be too thick — a challenge that Chopard clearly overcame with aplomb, as proven by the fact that this nearly 30-year-old creation is today the brand’s bestselling watch model.

This year, Chopard celebrates the timepiece that started it all with two limited-edition pieces. Housed in a new 33mm case (instead of the previous 30mm or 36mm sizes) made of Chopard’s purportedly anti-allergenic Lucent steel, Happy Sport the First pays tribute to the 36mm original with features such as a silver-coloured dial with Roman numerals in blue, five cabochon-cut sapphires set on the lugs and crown, and a supple bracelet featuring smooth, pebble-like links. There will be 1,993 pieces produced. A second variation, featuring a diamond-set bezel and a textured mother-of-pearl dial, will be produced in a run of 788.

Aside from these tribute pieces, Chopard has launched a full range of 33mm Happy Sport models. These include two-tone steel and rose gold variants, as well as full rose gold versions. Last but certainly not least, these timepieces are all powered by Chopard’s own automatic 09.01-C movement, ensuring that both aesthetes and the mechanically minded are kept, well, happy.

Happy Sport the First in steel retails for S$13,700.