Since 1988, Chopard is the official timekeeper and sponsor of the Mille Miglia, an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy and that has been reborn as a race for classic and vintage cars since 1977. To celebrate this partnership, Chopard has created a collection of watches that became the brand’s sports watches range. For Baselworld 2015, a new collections that includes the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Automatic & Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control had been launched, with in-house movements that clearly identify Chopard as a strong actor of the industry.
Mille Miglia watches by Chopard had always been inspired by racing cars, as they were fitted with visual elements reminding of this context: a rubber strap with a tyre pattern, bright colors reminiscent of racing cars’ livery and displays inspired by dashboards. However, elegance and technical attraction was not always present in these watches and the comparison with the rest of the collection, including the superb L.U.C watches, was hard. It seems that Chopard pushed further its intentions of being a strong actor in watchmaking and not to be seen any more as a jeweler casing outsourced movements in design-oriented watches. With the new collection of Mille Miglia watches that includes in-house movements, Chopard moves to another level.
Let’s first concentrate on the design. While all the elements of the previous Mille Miglia watches are here – tyre pattern on the strap, bright colours, dashboard inspiration – the new Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Automatic & Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control are fitted with a new overall retro-design that brings a higher level of elegance and discretion. The case may measure 43mm – which is frankly a robust size – it doesn’t feel like an overly massive watch. Short lugs and a flat design create a timepiece that is sporty but not designed like a brick. It wears extremely well even on smaller wrists – also due to the tyre-like rubber strap, integrated to the case and that goes downward at 90° right after the lugs. These two watches are in stainless steel or in 18k rose gold.
Then comes the dial. Of course Chopard brings back the racing cars inspiration. For sure, the power reserve indicator of the Mille Miglia GTS Power Control is inspired by dashboard gauges. And yes, there are some bright coloured accents on the dial and hands. However, compared to older editions, Chopard created here a more refined and discreet design, without losing the sporty / racing spirit. The dials of the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Automatic & Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control are fitted with a matt black plate with large and luminous applied indexes (in steel or in gold depending on the case’s material). The hands are also legible and sporty. Finally, some red accents enliven the dial – on the second/minute track and at 3, where the logo of the 1000 Miglia race circled the date window. The dial is circled with a fixed 60-minute bezel – Chopard chose to use a classical aluminum insert here instead of a ceramic insert like many of its competitors.
The Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Automatic & Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control are sharing multiple elements and only differ by the functions they posse, as the GTS Power Control features an extra power-reserve indicator at 9. For the rest, the features are classical: hours, minutes and seconds on the central axis and date at 3. However, even if visually simple, the new Chopard Mille Miglia watches are coming with a new movement – far away from the previous ETA based calibre. It’s no surprise anymore to see in-house movements from the brand, however, it seems that even in lower collections, they want to be as independent as possible and to offer nice, well finished and qualitative movements.
The Calibre 01.01-C (for the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Automatic) and Calibre 01.08-C (for the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control) are manufactured in Fleurier Ebauches workshops – owned by Chopard – and exclusive to the brand. These self-winding movements are certified chronometer by COSC and boast 60 hours of power reserve. The finishing is actually quite pleasant. The modern pattern on the bridges may be simple, it fits the idea of the watch quite well. The apparently industrial look goes away quickly when looking at the details: polished beveled angles, decorated rotor, circular graining on the main-plate. For an entry-level movement, it absolutely not disappoint.
Even if ETA movements are reliable and able to be certificated by COSC (with the right components and the right adjustment), the pleasure of having an in-house movement, exclusive to one watch and not shared by dozens of other brands, with a higher level of finishing, a stronger power reserve and a more interesting technical content are important and pleasant factors for the final customer. Of course the price of such a watch will increase (even if Chopard Mille Miglia watches with ETA movement were not cheap) but it is totally justified.
The new Mille Miglia collection also includes a chronograph (however still based on a Valjoux 7750) but the two classical editions, The Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Automatic & Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control, are refreshing watches, with an elegant sportive feeling, a bit of retro-design and an interesting horological content. Price for the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control in stainless steel on rubber strap: 5540 Euros.