Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control
The Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control harnesses all of the Genevan brand’s immense know-how and respectfully doffs its hat to the iconic Mille Miglia, a regularity race it has been in partnership with since 1988. Angus Davies closely examines this motorsport-themed watch for the enjoyment of horophiles and car fanatics.
In the 1950s, life as a professional racing driver was inherently dangerous. Numerous drivers perished while pursuing the sport they loved. During the 1955 Le Mans 24-hour race, two cars collided, causing a Mercedes-Benz to crash into nearby spectators, killing 84 people and injuring many more.
The Carrera Panamericana, a nine-stage race across Mexico also claimed lives. Over the five years the race ran, 1950 – 1954, a total of 27 people were killed. The Cuban Grand Prix only ran three times, 1957, 1958 and 1960. Again, a car crashed into a crowd of spectators, killing seven people and injuring many more. Ironically, the dangers of racing were not just limited to the track, Juan Manuel Fangio was kidnapped the night before the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix by political rebels. Thankfully, he was subsequently released unharmed.
The Mille Miglia, an endurance race over approximately 1000 miles, was undoubtedly the most glamorous motorsport event at the time. Indeed, Enzo Ferrari described the Mille Miglia as ‘the most beautiful race in the world’. Tree-lined roads and breathtaking landscapes provided the perfect backdrop for this arduous challenge. The Mille Miglia ran from 1927 to 1957, albeit no race was held in 1939 and there was a further interlude between 1941 and 1946. Sadly, while the race scythed through glorious vistas, the Mille Miglia was no stranger to danger. For example, two fatal crashes occurred in the final race of 1957. Both drivers and spectators, including five children, perished, spelling the end of the legendary race.
Since 1977, the 1000-mile race has become a more civilised, relaxed affair. The event is now a ‘vintage car regularity race’, arguably the most prestigious of its kind. In 2020, 400 cars, dating from 1927 to 1957 will navigate the route from Brescia to Rome and back. Every year, spectators cheer at the roadside and smiling faces populate the crowd. The race still challenges competitors, but without the risks associated with the full-blown, adrenaline-fuelled racing of the 1950s.
Chopard will forever be associated with the modern-day Mille Miglia event. It began partnering the annual regularity race in 1988. From the outset of this partnership, Chopard produced an annual Mille Miglia watch, limited in number with some reserved for competitors. In 1989, Chopard chose to make a key ring to mark the race, while three years later, in 1992, the Genevan brand produced cufflinks. However, these two occasions proved to be the exception to the rule, with Chopard otherwise crafting a new Mille Miglia watch every year.
At Baselworld 2019, Chopard unveiled a new Mille Miglia model, the GTS Power Control and, having spent time appraising the watch at close quarters, I can already attest, it is fabulous.
The dial of the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control is presented in dark grey and features a circular brushed effect. The surface of the dial creates alternating areas of light and shade.
Facetted, gilded hands enunciate the hours and minutes efficiently. They are lined with luminescent treatment, aiding readability in dim light. The hours are marked with luminescent batons with facetted tips, save for 6 and 12 o’clock which are denoted with plump Arabic numerals.
A central sweep seconds hand circumnavigates the dialscape. It features a prominent counterweight and includes a bold red tip. The date, positioned at 3 o’clock, is framed by a vibrant ‘1000 Miglia’ direction arrow. Furthermore, a minute track is presented on the flange encircling the dial area, proving useful when reading-off the prevailing time.
The pièce de résistance is the power-reserve indicator, biased to the left side of the display and located between 8 and 10 o’clock. It resembles a car’s fuel gauge, informing the wearer when the watch is devoid of energy. The indication is both simple to interpret and eminently stylish.
Measuring 43mm in diameter with a case thickness of 11.43mm, the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control has a sizeable torso. The primary benefit of its vast scale is that each dial indication has sufficient room to perform without interference. No dial element is squashed or ill-proportioned.
Clearly, the ample case dimensions may well be an issue for some would-be wearers, however, they will be able to find alternative options within the vast Chopard catalogue. Nevertheless, prior to dismissing this model, I would urge any interested party to place the watch upon their wrist as they may be surprised. Chopard has cleverly shaped the case to cocoon the wrist with anatomical efficiency. Suddenly the 43mm label seems less relevant. Indeed, think of a garment, the key factor which influences the fit is the cut and the same can be said for watches.
The two-tone case is formed of stainless steel and 18-carat ethical rose gold. The bezel is formed of noble metal, featuring a black inlay. A golden hued crown, sporting a steering wheel motif on its vertical flank, nestles between the shoulders of the crown protector. Chopard has carefully embraced robustness without corrupting the watch’s elegant lines with unseemly protrusions.
A close inspection of the caseback reveals a plethora of details. Eight screws hold the highly polished caseback in position. The unique number of the watch, part of a limited series of 500 pieces, is clearly shown. The words ‘Brescia > Roma > Brescia’ remind the wearer of the route of the 1000 mile race. A series of arcing lines, forming an arrow, emulate the design of the Mille Miglia logo, albeit in a curved format. Lastly, a pane of sapphire crystal provides inquisitive eyes with a view of the self-winding Calibre Chopard 01.08-C movement.
The Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control is fitted with a Cognac-coloured calf leather strap featuring tone-on-tone stitching. Perforations in the leather replicate the appearance of period racing gloves, while the black rubber lining mimics the appearance of Dunlop tyres of yesteryear.
At the heart of the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control is an in-house movement, crafted in Chopard’s Fleurier Ebauches facility. The Calibre Chopard 01-08-C is comprised of 251 components, each made to exacting standards.
The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the movement is fitted with 40 jewels. The prodigious power reserve ensures the watch will run autonomously for 60 hours. The Calibre Chopard 01-08-C is a chronometer, independently tested by COSC. The rate is altered using a curb adjuster (raquette).
While the Calibre Chopard 01-08-C lacks the exalted finishing found on the brand’s L.U.C movements, it remains aesthetically attractive. It shuns traditional Côtes de Genève decoration in favour of colimaçon, imbuing the calibre with a contemporary character.
A few months ago, I had the good fortune to tour Chopard’s Fleurier Ebauches site and witness the making of the Calibre Chopard 01.01-C and Calibre Chopard 09.01-C, used within the recently launched Alpine Eagle models. All Fleurier Ebauches movements are made in near-aseptic conditions to infinitesimal tolerances. More pertinently, they promise a lifetime of reliable service. Indeed, no-compromise quality is a characteristic at the heart of Chopard’s paradigm.
Over the years, Chopard’s partnership with the Mille Miglia has led to the creation of many incredible watches. Some models have featured merely three hands, while others have been equipped with a chronograph. A power-reserve indicator perfectly suits a motorsport-themed watch. The fuel-gauge aesthetics are both functional and convey information in a user-friendly form. Once again, Chopard’s design team has shown its incredible flair for design.
The grey expansive dial displays information clearly and with a high quotient of style. The case tastefully pairs steel and golden tones. The presence of this latter hue imbues the composition with a warm appearance. The 43mm case feels smaller when worn owing to the short lugs and intelligent case design. I was very impressed the ergonomic case fit and peerless wearer comfort.
The Calibre Chopard 01-08-C is a certified chronometer, it is attractively appointed and, courtesy of the Swiss marque’s exacting production standards, likely to deliver impressive levels of reliability.
At the introduction of this article, I retold several terrible events from motorsport’s past. Thankfully, advances in safety have helped to mitigate the risks professional racing drivers now face. However, in a bygone era, it was the passion of Nuovalari, Caracciola, Biondetti and Moss which led to courageous, high-speed battles. Likewise, it is an overriding sense of passion that pervades the modern-day Mille Miglia.
Chopard clearly understands ‘passion’, it is at the heart of everything the firm does and this is palpable when the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control is affixed to the wrist. It brims with emotion, intelligent design and notable quality and is worthy of podium glory.
- Model: Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control
- Reference: 168566-6001
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 43mm; height 11.43mm; sapphire crystals to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; date and power-reserve indicator
- Movement: Calibre Chopard 01-08-C; automatic movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 40 jewels; power reserve 60 hours
- Strap: Cognac-coloured calfskin leather and black rubber strap paired with a stainless steel folding clasp
- Price: £8,440 including VAT (RRP as at 18.3.2020)
- Limited Edition: 500 pieces