Chopard Mille Miglia 2018 Race Edition: the Symbiotic Relationship between Classic Cars and Watches
A handsome COSC-certified chrono for gentlemen drivers.
Chopard celebrates its 30-year anniversary as the partner and official timekeeper of the Mille Miglia race with two limited edition chronographs designed to bring the spirit of this classic car rally to the wrist. Fitted with COSC-certified movements, both the stainless steel and the two-tone steel and rose gold model of the Mille Miglia 2018 Race Edition are more vintage-inspired than the Mille Miglia GTS Power Control Grigio Speciale watch – also launched at Baselworld 2018. Sporting handsome engine-turned dials to capture the look and feel of a vintage car dashboard, here are two watches that will fuel the fantasies of car/watch fanatics.
Getting mileage from a rally
As the co-president of Chopard, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele obviously has a soft spot for mechanical watches. But his passion for larger engines in the form of vintage automobiles verges on obsession. As a collector of vintage cars, a racer and sponsor of two of the most prestigious classic car racing events (Mille Miglia since 1988 and Grand Prix de Monaco Historique since 1992), Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s passion for automobiles is well nurtured. Thanks to Scheufele’s obsession with cars, Chopard’s Classic Racing collection was born with its four automobile-inspired lines: Superfast, Mille Miglia, Grand Prix de Monaco Historique and Jacky Ickx.
Since its inception in 1927, the Mille Miglia has changed format and is now a regularity rally with strict regulations: only models that competed in one of the historical Mille Miglia speed races between 1927 and 1957 can participate. Although the 2018 edition was won by the Argentine crew of Juan Tonconogy and Barbara Ruffini in a 1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 GS Testa Fissa, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele and his long-time friend, the racing legend Jacky Ickx, took turns behind the wheel of Scheufele’s silver Porsche 550 Spyder 1500 RS of 1957 (similar to a model driven by Hans Herrmann during the 1954 Mille Miglia and James Dean’s 1955 Porsche).
A speedy review of the Mille Miglia
The history of the Mille Miglia dates back to 1927 when two Italian aristocrats – Aymo Maggi and Franco Mazzotti – a sports manager Renzo Castagneto, and the motoring journalist Giovanni Canestrini decided to stage their own race after the Italian Grand Prix had been relocated from their hometown of Brescia to Monza. Instead of a race track, the Mille Miglia was conceived as an open-road endurance race and made its debut on 26 March 1927 as 77 cars roared out of Viale Venezia in Brescia on their 1,000 mile leg from Brescia to Rome and back. Discontinued in 1957 after two fatal crashes, the race was revived in 1977 as a regularity race for classic and vintage cars. Not just any vintage cars mind you. Participation was and still is reserved for cars that competed (or were registered) in the race between 1927 and 1957 ensuring a parade of golden oldies that draws classic car fanatics from all over the world.
Analogies from the world of classic cars
Presented in a two-tone 18k rose gold and steel (100 pieces) and a stainless steel version (1,000 pieces), the 42mm Mille Miglia 2018 Race Edition chronographs are designed to capture two different moments in a gentleman driver’s day. The steel model is envisioned as a casual chic daily companion while the rose gold and steel is positioned as a dressier counterpart. In keeping with its motoring personality, the screw-lock crown (in either rose gold or steel) resembles a petrol tank cap and is decorated with a steering wheel motif while the steel or gold chrono pushers designed to look like engine pistons enhance its retro appeal. Beautifully polished with a stepped bezel and short ergonomic lugs, the dial is the true star of this racing companion.
The first element to catch your eye is the undulating engine-turned decoration of the dial, clearly inspired by the elegant wood dashboards of yesteryear. Set against the anthracite background, the three silver-toned and snailed sub-dials (in a 3-6-9 configuration) replicate the dashboard instruments of yesteryear and relay elapsed minutes and hours for the chrono and continuous seconds. The large Arabic numerals for the hours are treated with Super-LumiNova® for excellent visibility in the dark as are the hands.
As a watch designed to time motoring events, a tachymeter scale is featured on the perimeter of the dial along with railtrack minutes, both printed in white. There is also a somewhat incongruent date window squished in between 4 and 5 o’clock and the famous 1000 Miglia red arrow logo (taken from the original road sign for pilots) placed under the brand name and its Chronometer status.
Regularity is of the essence
The Mille Miglia race is not just about peak speeds but regularity and constancy and the two watches of the 2018 Race Edition are powered by an automatic chronograph calibre (ETA-2892 with Dubois-Depraz module) with COSC-chronometer certification. With a motor purring at a regular frequency of 28,800 vph/4 Hz for stints of up to 42 hours, the watch maintains a steady variation in rate with a variation of just +4/-6 seconds per day.
The caseback is engraved with another 1000 Miglia arrow logo on its rim, the limited edition number of the watch along with a black, red and white transfer on the sapphire glass which reads “Chopard & Mille Miglia 30 anni de passione”. Although the decal hides some of the movement, you can still appreciate the rotor with its Geneva stripes and the perlage on the bridges.
The final racing touch
Like ventilated driving gloves, the black calfskin leather strap is perforated and features racy red stitching. The rubber underside of the strap is decorated with Dunlop tyre tread motifs and the watch is fastened to the wrist with a polished steel pin buckle. Retailing for EUR 7,350 the steel and 18k rose gold version is a numbered edition of just 100 pieces, while the stainless steel, which costs EUR 5,170 is a numbered edition of 1,000. More details at chopard.com.
I do like Chopard’s L.U.C 1860 Red Carpet edition that Brice looked at back in May, though. Not many hand-guilloche red dials out there. Wish it wasn’t so expensive.
I came close to buying the non-ltd version of this watch but I thought it was too expensive, especially with this movement. It sat well on-wrist and has a nice European style, but I very rarely use a chronograph and I assume (incorrectly?) that a more complicated movement equals a more fragile movement with higher servicing costs.
The most expensive watch I own is a Tudor. Whenever I consider a watch above this price-bracket I feel elated at the prospect (“you too, could be a Rolex owner!”), but when it is actually on the wrist, a little voice in my head says “This is far too much money to spend on a watch.”