Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition
The Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition is the latest annual instalment of the firm’s motor-themed watches. The Genevan brand has been the principal partner and official timekeeper of the 1000 Miglia since 1988. Every year it produces a new race edition for each competing team as well as legions of petrol-heads and horophiles who possess a penchant for collecting these sought-after watches.
No doubt wearing his customary sunglasses, ‘il Commendatore’, Enzo Ferrari, once uttered the words, “The most beautiful race in the world”. The founder of the illustrious race team was referring to the Mille Miglia, the iconic road race of all time.
From 1927 to 1957, the Mille Miglia was a speed event, with the fastest car covering the 1000 mile route being declared the winner. Participants in the race would travel from Brescia to Rome and return back to Brescia. In 1955, Sir Stirling Moss drove a Mercedes 300 SLR to victory, covering the 1000 mile route in just over 10 hours, a feat that was never surpassed. At times, Moss, with navigator Denis Jenkinson at his side reached speeds of 170mph on the straights. Moreover, he averaged approximately 100mph over the entire route. The risk to human life, both drivers and spectators, was immense.
Sadly, in 1957, the race was discontinued after 2 drivers and 11 spectators were killed. However, in 1977, the Mille Miglia was revived, not as a speed event, but as a regularity race. A prerequisite for entry is that participating cars must be original and made between 1927 and 1957.
In 1988, Chopard became the principal partner and official timekeeper of the 1000 Miglia. Since entering into this arrangement, the Genevan Maison has produced a new Mille Miglia timepiece every year.
Every team taking part in the 1000 Miglia is presented with the latest Mille Miglia Race Edition chronograph prior to the start of the race. Chopard releases a new Race Edition model each year and, like many, I am always curious to see what motor-themed creation it has conceived.
This year (2020), Chopard has produced several octane-rich models to complement its other product families such as the Alpine Eagle and the brand’s high-end L.U.C range. In May, the luxury marque unveiled the Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Power Control and the Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Chrono. These two watches were in addition to the brand’s non-limited Classic Racing models such as Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph. Today, launched simultaneously with the Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition, the company has also unveiled the futuristic Mille Miglia 2020 LAB One Concept Watch. Quite simply, Chopard’s Mille Miglia models have greater prominence in 2020 than ever before.
The Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition is offered in two variants, one in beadblasted DLC stainless steel with an all-black finish and a second in the same execution, but with an ethical 18-carat rose gold bezel. While there are clear differences between both models, the two watches share much in common.
Both versions of the Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition are presented with matt black-varnished dials, enlivened with yellow detail. The tonal contrast is sublime with the yellow markings coming to the fore. This particular shade of yellow has a slightly aged appearance, perfectly in tune with the intended classic car theme.
The facetted metallic black hour and minute hands are lined with a yellowy inlay, while the hours are denoted with bold Arabic numerals suffused with ‘ultra-bright Super-LumiNova®’. The dial is endowed with three registers, a small seconds at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock and a 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock. The central sweep seconds hand features an ebullient smattering of red on its tip, while an aperture at 4:30 reveals the date. The prevailing date is shown in crisp white numerals atop a black disc.
While outright speed was the overriding objective of Moss et al, the purpose of a regularity race is to cover a specified distance in a defined period. The tachymeter scale framing the dial allows the wearer to measure the average speed over a known distance, making it an ideal function for participants in the 1000 Miglia.
The dial also features the famous red 1000 Miglia direction arrow below noon. The scale and position of the logo introduce a soupçon of colour and passion to proceedings without inhibiting readability.
The case of the Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition is executed in beadblasted DLC-treated stainless steel. This latter treatment is said to have been ‘partly inspired by the satin black and ‘gunmetal’ finishes often seen on vintage cars’. The surface is scratch-resistant and imbues the model with an air of understatement. Often modern-day race cars feature materials that do not create glare, something I am reminded of when I look at the non-reflective housing of this watch. Quite simply, an enthusiastic driver can deftly turn the steering wheel, safe in the knowledge their wristwatch won’t dazzle them at an inopportune moment.
Measuring 42mm, the scale of the Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition sidesteps extreme sizing and should suit the majority of wrists. Short lugs coax the strap to encircle the wrist and deliver peerless wearer comfort. Capstan-like pushpieces match the case finish and sit adjacent to the crown with its crenellated-style grip. Upholding some of the existing Mille Miglia design codes, the crown also features a steering wheel motif on its vertical flank.
Prospective purchasers can select the Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition in beadblasted DLC stainless steel with an all-black finish (limited to 1000 pieces) or the same execution, but with an ethical 18-carat rose gold bezel (limited to 250 pieces). Having affixed both versions to my wrist, I remain undecided as to which model I prefer. Certainly, the gold bezel makes the watch appear more dressy.
Most ‘petrol-heads’ have a predilection for viewing engines, therefore it should come as no surprise that the watch is equipped with an exhibition back, secured with screws and adorned with the 1000 Miglia logo. The Genevan Maison has fitted tinted glass to the caseback, harmoniously fusing with the beadblasted DLC-treated stainless steel.
A perforated, black calfskin strap, incorporating tone-on-tone stitching, provides a sublime ergonomic and sumptuous means of uniting the watch head with the wearer’s wrist. While the aforementioned perforated strap was inspired by period driving gloves, the lining of the strap, executed in black rubber, was influenced by the appearance of 1960s Dunlop racing tyres. Rest assured, while motorsport-inspired details abound, everything sits in concert.
At the heart of the Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition is a self-winding movement. The oscillating weight is adorned with Côtes de Genève motif, while the automatic device bridge and mainplate are embellished with perlage.
The watch is a certified chronometer (COSC) providing independent reassurance of its precision in an array of positions as well as specific temperatures. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the movement is fitted with 37 jewels. Assuming the watch is fully wound, it will run autonomously for 42 hours.
I feel a tad sorry for the design team at Chopard. Every year, having created a handsome Mille Miglia Race Edition, the bar is raised, making it even more challenging to surpass what has gone before. However, once again, this year’s Race Edition is blessed with attractive, chiselled features and is unequivocally my favourite Race Edition to date.
The reserved nature of the case sits in concert with the ‘vintage yellow’ dial markings. On one hand, the muted yellow hands, indexes, registers, etc are consistent with the classic car theme, however, the case treatment feels contemporary. Although both the case and dial exhibit different characters, everything feels harmonious. Furthermore, the beadblasted DLC-treated stainless steel case should appeal to a younger audience.
Despite this watch displaying numerous indications, the chosen hues, as well as the proportions of each dial element, deliver first-rate readability. To ensure success, participants in the 1000 Miglia need to pay close attention to their speed over a timed stage, hence the tachymeter scale should prove a useful aid.
Most pertinently of all, this is a versatile watch, perfectly suited to cockpit action or a post-race soirée. While the two-tone version with its gold bezel may appear more formal, both ownership options will undoubtedly look at ease in any situation.
- Model: Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition
- Reference: 168589-3028 (beadblasted DLC treated stainless steel) / Ref. 168589-6002 (beadblasted DLC treated stainless steel & ethical 18-carat rose gold)
- Case: beadblasted DLC treated stainless steel; diameter 42 mm; height 12.67 mm; sapphire crystal to front and exhibition case back
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph; tachymeter scale
- Movement: COSC certified automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 37 jewels; power reserve 42 hours
- Strap: Black calfskin strap with rubber lining and paired with a folding clasp in beadblasted DLC treated stainless steel
- Price: £5850 – Ref. 168589-3028 (RRP as at 22.10.2020)
- Price: £7330 – Ref. 168589-6002 (RRP as at 22.10.2020)