The historic, quirky, obscure, and arguably quite charming Mille Miglia race celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, and with it come some pleasant releases from longstanding official timekeeper of the race Chopard. In honor of the occasion, as well as the participation of Chopard’s Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele himself in the 2017 Mille Miglia race, Chopard is announcing a couple new chronograph models in their Mille Miglia collection: the Chopard Mille Miglia 2017 Racing Edition, as well as the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic XL 90th Anniversary Limited Edition that features an L.U.C movement.
Both watches are said to take design cues from vintage cars that were raced during the ’20s and up to the ’50s since the race is limited to cars from 1927-1957. So each dial supposedly pulls inspiration from cars from that time period. With that said, let’s talk about the watches.
The Chopard Mille Miglia 2017 Race Edition will come in two distinct versions. Both measure in at 44mm with a 100m-water-resistant stainless steel case, and one features a two-tone style with rose-gold bezel, crown, and pushers. While not typically a fan of rose gold, I find I like the look here that remains sporty but with an elegant flare.
Inside the Race Edition and behind a solid caseback (stamped prominently with the Mille Miglia logo) is a COSC-Certified chronograph movement beating at 28,800vph with a 48-hour power reserve. We can assume it is a Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 as Chopard has used in other watches such as, say, the Grand Prix De Monaco Historique Chronograph we reviewed here. The Chopard Mille Miglia 2017 Race Edition features a tachymeter scale on the bezel and sapphire crystal over the dial, and puts the chronograph registers at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, with the Mille Miglia logo wrapping the date window at 3. A lot of racing-inspired watches tend to sacrifice legibility for a cool textured dial, and while this does have an engine-inspired perlage texture, it appears surprisingly clean and easy to read.
Next, and by far the most intriguing of these new releases, is the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic XL 90th Anniversary Limited Edition watch. This piece marks the first-ever Chopard Mille Miglia collection watch to boast a prestigious L.U.C movement. Designed, developed, and produced entirely in-house, the Chopard L.U.C movements are usually reserved for the haute horology timepieces in the Chopard L.U.C catalog. We have always been impressed with the L.U.C watches and movements when seeing them in person, and in another first for the Mille Miglia collection, the L.U.C 03.07-L movement featured in this watch has been awarded the Geneva Seal – which dictates both performance and aesthetic standards (read all about the details of the Geneva Seal here). All this comes with expected exclusivity as Chopard has limited this watch to only 90 pieces in tribute to the 90th anniversary of the races.
The hand-wound flyback chronograph L.U.C 03.07-L’s painstakingly decorated and (dare I say) gorgeous nickel-silver self can be seen through the exhibition caseback of the 46mm-wide and 13.12mm-thick case. This case size falls right in line with the Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition we reviewed here back in August. One thing in particular that you may notice is the absence of a date indicator, which is something that makes a lot of collectors happy these days but that can never make everyone happy… The 18-carat rose gold case features a sapphire crystal, 50m of water resistance, and a calfskin, vintage-treated leather strap.
I’ll admit that Chopard’s partnership with the niche Mille Miglia race is what brought this quirky but fun racing tradition to my attention, with its congregation of over 400 individual teams to race vintage cars over a thousand miles through the streets and countryside of Italy. As I wondered if the race was too small and niche to find enough customers for Mille Miglia-branded watches, I realized that one doesn’t need to be a dedicated fan of the race to be romanced by it and be attracted to the watches. Even as I was writing this article, I mulled over the different teams and their cars and daydreamed about someday entering. While I may never have the chance to participate in the race or to own one of these pretty watches, it sure is fun to think about.
The only legitimate complaint I believe merits the presentation of the movement is that it only seems to take up 60 percent or so of the caseback. It is common for high heeled watch collectors to possess instances sized around the movement (in this case the case is 43mm wide and also the motion is 33mm wide), as opposed to moves put into instances which are bigger than necessary. This is a tricky discussion point because in the end of the day, Chopard (along with pretty much any other watch company), doesn’t wish to be restricted in how they size cases based on the movement sizes. That said, there’s a distinctive appeal in viewing a sapphire crystal screen caseback on the rear of this watch which takes up almost the entire space — as opposed to situations where the situation dimensions and motion don’t necessarily seem to match. Again, this is a little stage that enabled me to simply discuss the subject. I truly don’t think anybody is going to avoid purchasing this otherwise good watch because of the movement to case size ratio.A discussion of the Chopard L.U.C 96.13-L mechanical movement should start with the fact that it’s both COSC Chronometer certified for accuracy, as well as certified together with the Geneva Seal (Poinçon de Genève). The former is a more basic certification of motion performance and precision, whereas the Seal of Geneva is somewhat more complex in what it claims about a wristwatch. In its most modern form, the Seal of Geneva at the same time attests to the fact that a motion was created from the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland, abides by specific decoration standards, and additionally adheres to certain performance criteria. In lots of ways, using COSC certificate in addition to the Geneva Seal is somewhat redundant. Although with both, Chopard gets to include extra bragging rights to each bit, while printing “Chronometer” on the Lunar One’s dial.
The full stainless model of the Chopard Mille Miglia 2017 Race Edition (ref. 168571-3002) is limited to 1,000 pieces and will come on the traditional tire tread rubber strap that the Mille Miglia collection is known for with a price of $6,840. The two-tone rose gold model (ref. 168571-6001) is limited to 100 pieces and will come on a racing leather strap for a price of $10,100. Finally, the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic XL 90th Anniversary Limited Edition (ref. 161299-5001) is limited, again, to 90 pieces and will have a price of $43,880. chopard.com