In 2017, Italy’s Mille Miglia, today a rally race for vintage and classic sports cars, celebrates 90 years since its inception in 1927 as an open-road endurance race. Fittingly, Chopard — which has been a timekeeping partner of the Mille Miglia since 1988 — marks the milestone with the release of a very special timepiece, the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic XL 90th Anniversary Limited Edition.
Described by Chopard as “the most prestigious Mille Miglia watch” it has ever introduced, the Mille Miglia Classic XL is limited to just 90 pieces — one for each year since the first race — and is the first watch in the Mille Miglia collection to be awarded the prestigious poinçon de Genève, or Geneva hallmark, a certification for aesthetic and technical excellence by an independent authority in the Canton of Geneva. It joins a slew of new Mille Miglia watches launched by Chopard at Baselworld this year, including another limited edition, the 2017 Race Edition, which we cover here.
Its 18k rose-gold case measures a generous 46 mm in diameter and 13 mm thick, with a softly polished bezel and short dipping lugs designed for an ideal wrist feel. Also in rose gold are the chronograph pushers, whose shape is inspired by a car engine’s pistons; and the crown, which is reminiscent of a vintage gas-tank cap and whose large, notched design makes it easy to handle even while wearing leather driving gloves. The “porcelain-like” white dial features Arabic numerals painted with Super-LumiNova, and snailed subdials inspired by the counters on vintage car dashboards. The periphery of the dial is devoted to a tachymeter scale, which can be used in conjunction with the chronograph to measure real and average speeds, as a racing driver from 90 years ago would have done. The dauphine hour and minute hands are gilded and treated with Super-LumiNova. Gilded, triangular subdial hands record the chronograph minutes, chronograph hours, and running seconds in the subdials at 3, 9, and 6 o’clock, respectively; a central, gilded, red-tipped hand sweeps around the dial to count off the chronograph seconds.
It’s not just the bodywork that sets this classic car-inspired watch apart, though; it’s also the engine. The movement Chopard uses for this limited edition is the L.U.C. Caliber 03.07-L, a manual-winding movement with a flyback chronograph function, used in watches from Chopard’s top-of-the-line L.U.C collection but rarely, if ever, in its Mille Miglia series. Made up of 300 components, including 38 jewels, the movement has nickel silver bridges adorned with côtes de Genève and boasting excpetional chamfered edges and holds a fully wound power reserve of approximately 60 hours. The lowermost parts have been circular grained and gilded, while the uppermost parts, including those that drive the chronograph, are in rhodium-plated steel. In addition to meeting the strict criteria for structure, appearance, precision, and fine finishing necessary to obtain the Geneva hallmark, this movement has also earned a chronometer certification from the Swiss testing agency, COSC.
Finally, the strap of the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic XL 90th Anniversary Limited Edition represents one more nod to the golden age of racing. Made of brown Barenia calfksin leather, and inspired by the bonnet straps on vintage automobiles, it has been given a special treatment that will impart a vintage-style patina over the years as it ages with the wearer. The strap fastens to the wrist with an 18k rose-gold folding clasp. Available at the end of May 2017, it is priced at $43,880.