The renowned Mille Miglia is unarguably one of the most exquisite car races in the world. Genuine connoisseurs call it “la Corsa piu bella del mondo”. Since 1988, the Chopard family has been the official sponsor and timekeeper of the iconic Mille Miglia race. Mille Miglia’s watch brand is made up of timepieces that represent the passion and aesthetics of classic motorsports.
Since its inception, Mille Miglia has held its own and built a solid reputation for consistency and always outdoing their previous effort. Over these years, Chopard has been inspired by the artistic beauty of the exotic race cars that contest every year in the Mille Miglia Race. The special race from Brescia to Rome and back over 1,000 miles (Mille Miglia) of sinuous routes via some of the country’s most delightful landmarks, are unforgettable.
Two sub lines are categorised for our review today. The Mille Miglia Classic collection and the Mille Miglia Gran Tourismo XL 2016—the former pays homage to the vintage race cars that competed during 1927 to 1940, while the latter is themed about more vehicles that came after the previous period; these cars borrow from modern technologies. Accuracy and beauty inspired the first Mille Miglia watch, released over three decades ago as a limited edition which Chopard presented to the 400 drivers at the event. This is the blueprint for all Mille Miglia watches that have and will come after. It is developed to have the fashion of a classic car dashboard with race red-arrow logo as its trademark.
Chopard Mille Miglia produces limited editions that mark the yearly Mille Miglia Classic car race every year. We will get into two of the most popular watches in the brand— the Classic Chronograph and the 2016 XL Race Edition. The watches have different design functions and not only do they revive the heart of classic motorsport lovers but also garner the interest of the most acute enthusiasts who appreciate refinement and technical accuracy. Controlling time goes beyond effectuating the self-absorbing bias in all of us, every time.
The Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph has a black tone that is consistent around the dial. The dial has a unique layout, that is both bright and bold. It draws inspiration from the 1920s dashboards and has large Arabic numerals. The date aperture is between the four and five o’clock indices, and the minutes, hours, and chronograph hands are mostly untouched.
Three chronograph sub-dials, luminescent hands and hour markers also make up the unique dial on this timepiece, with the staple Mille Miglia symbol resting below the brand name. It also has the retro-charm to it. The tachymeter (fixed inside the crystal) and fractional seconds scales are functional and finished, and the red-tipped chronograph seconds hand is long enough for easy readings on any part of the dial.
The dial on the XL Race edition 2016 model is busy. It has an effect of the large Arabic numerals, some of which are cut by the sub-dials. The three-tier frames on the dial contain tachymeter scale, a seconds track, and the lume-filled Arabic numerals, with one smaller pip at the three and nine o’clock positions. The sub-dials are not close to one another.
They are broad and straight, marking not only the time but also how nice a robust timepiece can appear if it has perfectly-sized hands. As robust as it is, the Mille Miglia 2016 XL is still balanced and quite visually alluring. Most of all the dial elements have been enlarged to fit the wider case.
The model is available in a 50m water-resistant stainless steel case, measured at 42mm (diameter) and 12.76mm (thickness). This watch features an automatic movement. It is a COSC Chronometer-certified. Its movement runs at 28,800vph with a 42-hour power reserve and 37 jewels.
You can see via the display caseback; the movement is engraved with “ETA 2894-2” (just below the balance wheel). This ETA chronograph is different from the Valjoux 7750 and is an upgrade on the already solid 2892-2 self-winding movement.
The watch has a round, 46mm case that measures 54mm in length and 15mm in thickness. This is a very big watch by all means and is not for the faint hearted. It features piston pushers, vintage wheel hub-shaped crown and long, straight lugs, and it is as beautiful as it is sporty. The stainless steel case is fully polished. It has an 8.5mm stepped steel bezel that is not rotating and has pump-style pushers.
The case-back is a screw-down steel rim that displays a clear view of the self-winding mechanical movement. The crown is also the screw-down type. The sapphire crystal is flat with an anti-glare treatment for improved visibility in illuminating surroundings.
An automatic 30.05-C movement drives the 2016 XL Race Edition watch. This COSC chronometer-certified timepiece that runs around between -4 and +6 seconds daily and has a chronograph controlled by column-wheel. It provides 60-hours power reserve with 45 jewels, and it runs at 4 Hertz. Aside from its functionality, the 30.05-C movement is well designed. The watch comes with 50m water-resistance which is in a good range.
The movement is installed inside a “bowl-like” space, with a sloping ring around it. It has a relatively small sapphire window on it – which makes the movement seem smaller than it already is. A wide sapphire crystal is also added to the case back displaying the spacer ring. This feature is very useful, as the ring visibly becomes a part of the movement, making it look robust and not slender.
The Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph comes in a leather strap or a Dunlop racing “Tire Tread” rubber strap. This style of strap often comes with many Mille Miglia and is well known with Chopard fans.
The strap of the 2016 XL Race Edition is one of the thickest straps ever attached to a luxury timepiece. The extra thickness does not obstruct comfort at all. The strap is calfskin; soft and flexible. The colour choice is well-picked. It looks like a blend of brown and burgundy and features a tiny trace of dark red that makes the watch different and versatile, without jeopardising the tasteful and classic feel of the brown. The double folding clasp is comfortable.
The Chopard Mille Miglia is very well priced considering the heritage and quality attached. For the Milli Miglia Classic Chronograph, prices range from £4,500 for the base model to £11,500 for the stainless steel diamond-bezel variant. Due to the limited edition status of the 2016 XL Race Edition timepiece, the price is a little higher than standard Mille Miglia watches. This starts at around £9,100 with the 2018 Race Edition available for £4,900 and the 2019 Race Edition available from £6,300.
Review: Chopard Mille Miglia
The Chopard Mille Miglia pays tribute to the classic motorsports of the 20s and 30s. Even casual fans will enjoy the modern take and structure of this timepiece. The brilliant, tyre tread strap lends an even stronger voice to the racetrack making this timepiece a worth addition for those that love a life on the road.