Revived as a classic and vintage car rally in 1977, the Mille Miglia found its origin during the early 1920s when a group of wealthy auto enthusiasts in Brescia discovered the Italian Grand Prix was about to be moved to Milan and its new track at Monza. A legendary car race that was run 24 times between 1927 and 1957, the challenging and sometimes dangerous race looped through Northern Italy, starting and finishing in Brescia, a city in the northern Italian region of Lombardy.
The Mille Miglia race took place on roads closed down to civilian traffic, first heading east to Verona, south to the Adriatic Coast, then on to Rome, finally heading back north through a few of Italy’s most renowned and beautiful cities before returning to Brescia. The legendary race required great skill and strength to finish the 1000 miles, often taking over sixteen hours of driving with very few pit stops. Decades later, the race has taken on mythic proportions.
Nowadays, the Mille Miglia is considered one of the most beautiful races in the world. Cars eligible to take part in the contemporary Mille Miglia are those that took part in at least one edition of the historic 1000 Miglia held during its heyday. Think pristine vintage Alfa Romeos, Ferrari’s, and Lancia driving through the world’s most magnificent Italian landscapes. With a superb location and lineup like that, it’s no wonder that the World Sponsor and Official Timekeeper of the Mille Miglia is Chopard.
Since becoming the 1000 Miglia’s principal partner and official timekeeper in 1988, Chopard has created a new Mille Miglia timepiece every year. For 2020, the edition is only 1250 pieces in a full black theme, 1,000 in bead-blasted black DLC-treated stainless steel, and 250 in two-tone bead-blasted black DLC-treated stainless steel combined with ethically sourced 18k rose gold.
The sapphire crystal case-back reveals the chronometer-certified mechanical movement with automatic winding featuring a reliable 42-hour power reserve. Each piece is numbered and comes with a matching perforated leather strap lined with a vintage tire tread inspired pattern rubber lining. The Mille Miglia chronograph is an essential part of any rally contestants kit, and the latest edition gets presented to each team taking part before the race begins.
Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele has a personal interest in the limited edition. Not only is he an avid classic car enthusiast, but he is also a 31-time Mille Miglia competitor. “We had our younger clients in mind when we created this year’s watch. Younger generations are increasingly interested in classic cars, and we’re seeing newly married couples as well as father-and-son tandems taking part in events such as the Mille Miglia. This watch is very much intended for them,” says Scheufele.
A second introduction from Chopard has also found inspiration in the Mille Miglia intended for a slightly different audience. A new concept watch called the Mille Miglia Lab One proposes a futuristic shaped case and a new kind of tourbillon movement. The first self-winding tourbillon from Chopard looks to technical innovations usually found in high-performance race cars using state-of-the-art materials and innovative functionality. Multiple patents make their debut, starting with a stop-tourbillon mechanism and an inventive invisible crown.
The Chopard Manufacture ‘form’ (non-round) self-winding tourbillon movement functions similarly to a disc-brake system where the tourbillon carriage is stopped by “axially mounted levers” that are activated when the crown gets pulled. Controlling the tourbillon in this manner enables the watch to be set to the nearest second for extreme accuracy. Another patent filed by Chopard is related to the Variner balance, allowing for stability offsetting effects of inertia. The invisible crown, outfitted on the watch’s left-hand side, is hidden beneath the watch, inconspicuously staying out of the driver’s way.
Vintage race car engines and grills provide the movement and dial with its overall design, where speedometers and gauges inspire the look of the small seconds, power reserve, and retrograde day indicator. The ergonomic titanium case is 48.6 x 46 mm, with bead-blasted matte and polished bezel and lugs. An oversize double-disc date display is located below the 12, with open grid details revealing a few of the 485 movement components inside, one of the most advanced movements developed by the Chopard Manufacture. The carbon fiber bracelet is rubber lined, continuing the aesthetic link between automobiles and watches, and the titanium’s blackened appearance is created using a ‘diamond-like carbon (DLC) treatment, most commonly found in the automobile industry.
With Chopard’s intention of attracting a new and younger audience to classic cars and fine watchmaking, there is no question to the enduring link between cars and watches remains a powerful one. Each year, the limited number of Chopard’s Mille Miglia editions secure their place as highly sought after collectors’ items for both lovers of classic cars and watches. And for 2020, these Mille Miglia editions prove it.
Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition
Mechanical movement with automatic winding; hours minutes and seconds; small seconds at three; 30 minute and 12-hour counters; date window between four and five, tachymeter scale; 28.60 mm diameter; 28,800 vph (4 Hz) COSC certified; 42-hour power reserve
42 mm bead-blasted DLC-treated stainless steel (all black)
42 mm bead-blasted DLC-treated stainless steel, bezel in 18k ethical rose gold (two-tone)
Black calfskin strap with tone on tone stitching, perforations inspired by driving gloves, black rubber lining inspired by 60s Dunlop racing tires, folding clasp in bead-blasted DLC-treated stainless steel
Ref. 168589-3028 (all black) 1,000 piece limited edition
Ref. 168589-6002 (two-tone) 250 piece limited edition
Mille Miglia Lab One
Self-winding Chopard 04.03-M; central display of hours and minutes, small seconds at six, aperture-type large date display at twelve, power-reserve display between seven and eight, retrograde display of days between four and five, tourbillon at six; 39 x 38.60 mm, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) Tourbillon with stop function, Variner balance with Phillips terminal curve. 60-hour power reserve
48.6 x 46 mm bead-blasted titanium, black DLC treatment, cushion-shaped; water-resistant to 50m
Rubber lined carbon bracelet with a folding clasp in DLC coated black bead-blasted titanium
Ref. 168599-3001 20 piece limited edition in black bead-blasted titanium