Chopard’s 32-year association with the historic Mille Miglia rally, that sees a fleet of priceless classic cars wind their way through 1,000 miles of the Italian countryside is completely unprecedented in the watch industry, sponsors usually being far more fair-weather. In truth the association is driven, as such passion projects usually are, by one man, Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, a passionate collector and, more importantly, driver of classic cars.
But not only has Scheufele’s support of the Mille Miglia put him front and centre of an event he clearly loves being a part of for three decades, but it has also spawned a very successful line of racing-inspired watches, chronographs and time-only pieces, that serve as an entry point to Chopard’s offering of watches and are, incredibly, presented to every team participating in each event. That certainly takes the sting out of the £7,000 entry fee.
There is something refreshingly unpretentious about Chopard’s Mille Miglia watches, a collection which has grown by at least one new limited-edition piece every year since 1988. The watches are a charming, cheerful grouping that never overplay their hand, either in terms of lumping on the heritage of the race or overstating the technical nature of their tools watches. Chopard also has the good fortune of working with one of the better official race logos which never looks out of place on a dial.
And now for the 2020 race, which somewhat incredibly is still set to set-off today, the Mille Miglia collection gets one of its strongest watches in years.
Two versions of the Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition, a 42mm 12-hour chronograph, have been created, one in bead-blasted DLC-coated stainless steel and the other bimetal, with the addition of an 18ct ethical rose gold bezel, produced in limited runs of 1,000 and 250 respectively. Limited numbers aside, each participant in the road race will be gifted a model of their own, totalling roughly £2m.
That the steel-only watch reminds me of Chopard’s knockout L.U.C Chrono One Flyback from 2019 (was that really only last year?) is no bad thing, which is mainly due to the similar matt appearance of that watch’s high tech Titalyt case and the orange-peel finish of this new watch’s bead-blasted DLC. Here this finish almost gives an impression of cast iron, which is not something I’ve seen before and riffs neatly on the heritage theme.
This irregular texture is carried over to the dial which is painted using a mix of military olive drab for the scales and subdials while the Arabic numeral hour markers and hands are filled with Super-LumiNova.
The watches are powered by 4Hz chronometer-certified automatic chronograph movements offering a 42-hour power reserve, which points to the use of ETA or Sellita movements, which has always been the case with the Mille Miglia watches. The movement is decorated in a matching gunmetal colour scheme with Côtes de Genève stripes on the winding rotor and perlage on the bridges.
Both watches are secured on perforated black calfskin leather straps with a rubber lining based on 1960s Dunlop tyre treads.
Price & Specs:
Model: Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition
Ref: 168589-3028 (beadblasted DLC-treated stainless steel) / 168589-6002 (beadblasted DLC-treated stainless steel and Ethical 18ct rose gold)
Case/Dial: 42mm diameter x 12.67mm height, beadblasted DLC-treated stainless steel or beadblasted DLC-treated stainless steel and 18ct rose gold
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Mechanical movement, automatic, 37 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4Hz)
Power reserve: 42h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, small seconds at 3 o’clock, 30-minute and 12-hour counters, date window between 4 and 5 o’clock, tachymeter scale
Strap: Black calfskin with tone-on-tone stitching and black rubber lining
Price/availability: £5,850, 1,000 piece limited edition (DLC-treated stainless steel), £7,330, 250 piece limited edition (DLC-treated stainless steel and 18ct rose gold)
More details at Chopard.