A new automatic tourbillon housed in a futuristic case inspired by high-performance race cars speeds full throttle into the Mille Miglia collection. Although many Mille Miglia watches take their design cues from the classic automobiles that participate in the 1,000-mile Brescia to Rome race, the Chopard Mille Miglia Lab One is the vision of a future direction for the collection. Housed in a blackened titanium cushion-shaped case, the latest racing team member is equipped with the first automatic tourbillon to emerge from Chopard’s Manufacture. With two patents under its belt, this concept watch will be strictly limited to 20 pieces.
Chopard’s First Concept Watch
The Mille Miglia Lab One is the brand’s first concept watch, a futuristic vision of the Mille Miglia and a way of testing the waters with the public. The tradition of concept watches is borrowed directly from the world of concept cars; they are models designed to test new technologies and styling that are put into the public arena to gauge reactions.
The most extreme Mille Miglia model to date, the 48.6mmx 46mm case with a height of 14.85mm is made from titanium with a black DLC treatment. The case is what is known as a cushion-shaped case with an angular, ten-sided profile. Beadblasted and polished finishings highlight the unusual case shape, complete with four functional PVD-coated screws at the extremities. The diamond-like carbon, often used in the automobile industry, protects the case from scratching and gives the watch its virile, sporty vibe. Another advantage offered by the large case is the amount of space available for the functions coupled with the ease with which these can be consulted.
When Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard, issued the mandate for the Lab One, his team of designers were drawn by the shape of the manual-winding L.U.C 04.01-L calibre found inside Chopard L.U.C Engine One Tourbillon models. Shaped like a rectangle with rounded edges, this manual-winding movement was designed to echo the shape of an engine block.
Ergonomics play an important role in the Chopard Mille Miglia Lab One and the invisible screw-down crown (patent filed) has been tucked into the left side of the case to avoid disturbing the driver during laps and ensuring the case is water-resistant to 50 metres.
Borrowing design cues from the world of motorsports, the overall colour scheme of the dial is black and silver with touches of racing red. The openworked silver grid on the lateral parts of the dial looks like a radiator grille and offers glimpses of the movement. The central area of the dial is shielded by a black bonnet with silver speed stripes and bears the extra-large Arabic numeral 12. The big date function is housed in a black frame and positioned in the openworked area.
Directly below the sharp profile of the skeletonised hands with luminous tips is the large aperture for the tourbillon. The tourbillon is flanked on the left by the power reserve gauge (at full capable of delivering 60 hours of autonomy) and on the right by the retrograde day of the week indicator, both with sandblasted silvered backgrounds and racing red hands. Perched on top of the tourbillon bridge is a small black seconds hand. Below the openworked bridge is a view of the new patented stop-tourbillon system inspired by the disc brakes of racing cars.
Under the bonnet
The reverse side of the watch reveals the new Chopard Manufacture 04.03-M cushion-shaped tourbillon movement with automatic winding. On the right side of the caseback is a large black openworked disc corresponding to the new patented screw-down crown and designed to look like a rim. As mentioned, the calibre 04.03-M is an all-new movement, the first automatic tourbillon calibre produced at Chopard’s manufacture and the first to feature a stop-tourbillon mechanism.
In a similar manner to a disc-brake system in a car, the tourbillon carriage can be brought to a halt by axially mounted levers that are activated as soon the crown is pulled out. This means that the movement can be set to the nearest second, an extremely rare function for a tourbillon. A second patent has also been filed for the Variner balance that ensures stable movement rating by compensating for inertia variations.
With its engine-style finishings, the movement features an openworked tourbillon double-bar bridge (dial side) and dark galvanic treatment on the rotor and bridges to create an all-dark look with contrasting racing red inscriptions. With its 485 parts, calibre 04.04-M is one of the most complex movements ever made by Chopard’s manufacture and is certified as a chronometer by COSC. Beating at a frequency of 28,800vph, the power reserve is of approximately 60 hours.
Availability & price
Matching the racing car spirit of the watch, a special strap made from woven carbon fibres on the top and rubber below with a black DLC-coated and beadblasted titanium folding clasp completes the package. The Chopard Mille Miglia Lab One is a limited edition of 20 pieces and will retail for EUR 128,500.
More information at Chopard.