Chopard’s 30-year partnership with the Mille Miglia series of classic car rallies has yielded some very intriguing timepieces — including, most recently, a quintet of models with nation-specific racing-color dials. The latest, which debuted at the 2018 Rennsport Reunion in Laguna Seca, California, the world’s largest gathering of Porsche racing cars, is no exception. The Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Racing Stripes Edition, this week’s Watch to Watch, takes its visual cues from a very specific era in Porsche auto racing and the legendary car design that emerged from that era.
The blue and white racing stripes that adorn the dial and caseback of the watch trace their origins to 1951 and an innovative, ambitious millionaire automaker named Briggs Cunningham. Rules set at the time by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l”Automobile) stipulated that all racing teams use colors that represented their countries — the reason being that since Formula One cars racing at top speed tended to look very much alike as they went by in a blur, different colors for each team helped spectators tell them apart. American cars were to be painted either white or, if frame rails were exposed, blue. Cunningham, whose dream was to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with his eponymous racing team, entered two cars of his own design in the 1951 edition of the prestigious endurance race, which used both colors: white with blue stripes running up the hood, over the roof, and down the rear deck. Cunningham never did win Le Mans, but the “Cunningham Stripes” that he originated went down in racing history.
The twin Cunningham Stripes run down the left-hand side of the silver-toned dial, which also hosts wide Arabic numerals in a retro font used on the dashboards of 1920s cars. The subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock — for running seconds, chronograph hours and chronograph minutes, respectively — have a finely snailed finish. The baton hour and minute hands are rhodiumed and treated with Super-LumiNova, whicb also coats the hour numerals. The central sweep-seconds chrono hand has a red tip that echoes the “Rossa Corsa” arrow-shaped Mille Miglia logo at 12 o’clock. A date window appears at 4:30 and a tachymeter scale rings the dial on its outer flange.
Inside the 42-mm-diameter stainless steel case and beneath the clear sapphire caseback, whose expanse is bisected by another set of blue and white racing stripes, the wearer can view the engine of this racing-derived watch, an automatic, COSC-certified caliber with a 28,800-vph frequency and a 42-hour power reserve; a Chopard logo is inscribed in gold on the Geneva wave-embellished rotor. Completing the ensemble is the strap, made of black calfskin leather, perforated in the style of racing gloves, with blue contrast stitching and a rubber lining embossed with a 1960s Dunlop racing tire-tread motif.
Limited to just 50 pieces, the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Racing Stripes Edition will be sold exclusively in U.S. boutiques and priced at $5,900.