Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition

Imagine For a Moment…

Chopard, the Swiss watch and jewellery company, is synonymous with motor racing, partnering both the Mille Miglia and, in this instance, the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique. This year the prestigious maison from Geneva has unveiled the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition, offered in two different case options. Recently, Angus Davies succumbed to the charms of the shotblasted titanium and steel model and, for a few brief moments, was transposed to the glamorous streets of Monaco.

 

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Imagine for a moment, standing near the ‘Sainte Devote’ corner at the iconic Circuit de Monaco. There ahead of you, the track is presented in all of its glamorous glory. This is a motor racing arena par excellence, capable of separating the men from the boys with its challenging bends and narrow track sections.

 

The air is still octane-rich from the earlier practise sessions and the crowd is excited, eager to see the spectacle which awaits.

 

For the competitors, there is no time for going back. This is the moment drivers must compose themselves and control the adrenaline pumping through their bodies, harnessing it to positive affect for the wheel to wheel combat which is about to ensue. Now is the time each driver must fulfil their potential, no joy will be derived from coming last. This is the moment for absolute focus. Weeks of preparation have led to this point. The day has arrived. This is the domain of the gentleman racer, willing to risk priceless classic cars in gladiatorial battle, all in the pursuit of the winner’s garland.

 

As the start commences, the streets of Monaco come alive to a cacophony of sound, reverberating around the principality, a locale which emulates the acoustics of an amphitheatre. This is the world of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, an event teeming with passion, an event where precision and timing are everything.

 

Chopard – racing is part of its DNA

In the sphere of watchmaking, Chopard is a watch brand imbued with a genuine passion for motor racing. Its co-president, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, is a keen collector of classic cars. Each year, he can be seen participating in the legendary Mille Miglia, an event the maison has supported since 1988.

 

A few years ago, I chatted to Karl-Friedrich Scheufele about his love of motor racing. ‘KFS’, as he is affectionately known, confessed to me that he would have loved to have been a professional racing driver. Indeed, whilst talking to KFS, his love of cars soon became apparent and his animated eyes disclosed a genuine obsession for clipping apexes with wonderful aplomb.

 

A new limited edition watch

This zeal for racing cars is part of Chopard’s paradigm and it should therefore come as no surprise to learn that Chopard has been ‘partnering’ the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique since 2002, as well as ‘serving as official timekeeper’ for the race event. This year, the Swiss watch and jewellery brand has unveiled a limited edition timepiece, the Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition, presented in two case options.

 

 

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Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition in 18-carat rose gold, limited to 100 pieces (Reference 161294-5001)

 

The watch is offered in shotblasted titanium and stainless steel, limited to 500 pieces. Alternatively, an 18-carat rose gold version, limited to 100 pieces, is also offered, ideally suiting those prospective purchasers seeking the warm allure of autumn-toned noble metal. While the latter watch is undoubtedly gorgeous, I was particularly drawn to the titanium and steel variant and chose to navigate its form and appraise its layout.

 

The dial

The first notable characteristic of the dial is the preponderance of snailing. Virtually the full dial canvas is inhabited with a series of concentric rings, bestowing a scintillating spectacle with light shimmering across its surface to bewitching effect.

 

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Painted metallic black hour and minute hands, lined with Superluminova, communicate with the wearer, employing unambiguous discourse to glorious effect. A prominent, orange central chronograph seconds hand articulates elapsed seconds with peerless clarity. Indeed, with these three hands alone, Chopard has imbued the dial of this watch with admirable legibility.

 

The three subdials presented all incorporate snailed detail, Arabic numerals, crisp strokes and metallic black pointers. However, once again, Chopard has heightened the ease of interpretation, differentiating the two chronograph registers from the small seconds display by employing different tonal shades. The 30-minute chronograph register at noon, along with the 12-hour chronograph register positioned directly below, are grey, conferring marked contrast with the silver toned small seconds display at 9 o’clock.

 

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A date display resides at 3 o’clock. Pointed indexes circumscribe the snailed central dial area and are marked with Arabic numerals, showing the relevant minutes, aiding interpretation.

 

The tachymeter scale presented befits this watch, a timepiece which consummately references motor racing. Indeed, it is the prudent use of colour, texture, shape and position which accords the dial of this watch with a handsome aesthetic and superb legibility.

 

The case

The shotblasted titanium and stainless steel case measures 44.5mm in diameter, providing notable wrist presence. However, despite its generous scale (14.1mm height), this watch always exhibits a wonderful decorum, proving very appropriate to the sun-kissed principality the watch references on the dial.

 

The grey toned bezel, marked with the aforementioned tachymeter scale, features orange dots which accord a hint of ebullience to the design language while still maintaining a sense of seemly conduct.

 

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Nestling between the crown and the chronograph pushers, crown guards grant a soupçon of sturdiness that should help shrug off occasional contact with the barriers. The crown sports a steering wheel motif, while the pushers are enchantingly adorned with five small recessed dots encircling a larger sunken circle. These latter design elements provide a delightful tactile interface between the watch and its fortunate wearer and illustrate the fastidiousness of the Chopard design team.

 

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Gracing the caseback of the Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition is a depiction of the Automobile Club de Monaco emblem, together with the unique case number from the limited series of 500 pieces. The depiction of the prestigious club’s motif is beautiful and the allen-key style bolts, retaining the caseback in position, exhibit an alluring and apt aesthetic. However, there is a small part of me that yearns to see the engine powering this horological racer and, perhaps, a sapphire caseback would have just added a tad more wearer delight.

 

The movement

Owing to the fitment of a solid caseback, I have not seen the ‘self-winding chronograph movement’ within the Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition. I am therefore unable to comment on the level of finishing employed.

 

However, I can report that the pushpieces operated with a delightfully positive action and the precision of the movement is assured, courtesy of independent chronometer certification by COSC.

 

The frequency of the balance is 28,800 vph (4Hz). The movement contains 25 jewels and proffers 46 hours of autonomous operation.

 

Closing remarks

The dial of this chronograph converses clearly with the wearer. Indeed, when information has to be gleaned quickly, the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition assists avid racers by communicating with matchless lucidity, making it a true motorsport instrument.

 

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The watch proffered excellent levels of wearer comfort and I especially liked the grey and orange NATO strap. The timepiece is also supplied with a grey Barenia calfskin strap, providing a perfect accompaniment to formal attire.

 

Many watch companies seek to associate themselves with motor racing. However, few brands share the same passion for octane-fuelled competition as Chopard and its co-president, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. This ‘passion’, an apt term often used by the brand, suffuses many of the maison’s timepieces to splendiferous effect. The Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition proves to be no exception – its magnificent.

 

I have often dreamt of attending the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique and absorbing the charm this exquisite location freely bestows to competitors and spectators alike. It was whilst holding the Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition in my hands that I began to imagine the race event which takes place every two years. I readily envisioned seeing cars, racing in anger and avoiding the clutches of the Armco barriers. I also imagined myself sartorially clad, a few pounds lighter, bathing in the sun comme il faut. Just for a moment I visualised wearing the Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition upon my wrist….

 

Thankfully, there is no need to dream, the prospect of owning this gorgeous watch from Chopard, proves to be a very realistic proposition, courtesy of its modest asking price of £5,010.

 

Technical specification

  • Model: Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition
  • Reference: 168570-3002
  • Case: Shotblasted titanium and stainless steel; diameter 44.5mm; height 14.1mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid case back.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph.
  • Movement: ‘Self-winding chronograph movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve approximately 46hours
  • Strap: Grey Barenia calfskin strap with orange stitching presented with a titanium stainless steel folding clasp. Also supplied with grey and orange NATO strap with pin buckle.
  • Price: £5,010 (RRP as at 28.7.2016)

 

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Angus Davies

Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.