Closer Look at the Chopard Mille Miglia
For more than three decades, the Chopard Mille Miglia has kept the spirit of vintage road racing alive with a steady flow of limited-edition timepieces. Let’s delve into what makes this watch so special.
Mille Miglia. “1,000 Miles” in Italian. It stands for the distance and the thusly titled open-road race that once roared through the Italian countryside. While the last of the endurance racers competed in the grueling heat more than half a century ago, today Chopard captures their essence in the watch that’s named in their honor.
They Rolled Out of the 80s
While the final drivers crossed the last finish line of the Mille Miglia in 1957, it wasn’t until over three decades later that the Swiss watchmakers Chopard paid homage to their neighbors to the south. In 1988, Chopard debuted what would be the first of a series of limited edition Mille Miglia watches, starting with their Chopard Mille Miglia Chronograph. It was designed to capture the spirit of road racing with a prominent bezel, pronounced tachymeter scale, and a design inspired by the look of a classic race car’s dashboard.
Drivers and Watches
Today, the famed race is honored by the annual Mille Miglia Storica. A parade of pre-1957 classic cars and a massive road-rally event for serious auto enthusiasts. The event features a rotating roster of A-list celebrity drivers. These drivers have a serious incentive to participate. Each is presented with that year’s limited edition Mille Miglia just for taking part.
A Few of Our Favorite Chopard Mille Miglia Watches
With a new offering each year since 1988, there are lots to choose from in the line. But let’s take a look at some standouts that have become favorites through the years.
Mille Miglia 8331
To mark the 10th anniversary of the watch, Chopard created the much-loved 8331. This one doesn’t try to overwhelm with size, with a relatively small 39mm diameter round case. Like all in the line, it honors racing heritage, here with a tachymeter on the dial and three chronograph functions.
And, sure, maybe they are overdoing it a bit on the racing theme with the rubber strap featuring a tire-tread pattern. But hey, it works. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does. And for all of those gearheads who like to poke around under the hood of a car, flip this one over to view the inner workings of the movement through a display case back.
Mille Miglia GTS
We first met the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control at Baselworld in 2015. A bezel with a black aluminum insert gives the GTS a super sporty look. It’s complemented by a black dial that pays tribute to dashboards of yore. The dial is dominated by large Arabic 6 and 12 numerals. Those numerals are matched only in their prominence by the trademark Chopard red-arrow logo that crosses the date window. The power reserve indicator is styled to look like a gas gauge on a car from the 1950s. It is available in stainless steel and 18-karat rose gold. The GTS can go on a stainless steel bracelet but the sporty watch feels just as at home on a sturdy rubber strap.
Chopard Mille Miglia GMT 8992
This is one of the most iconic timepieces in the line. The GMT 8992 is an all-stainless-steel chronograph that jumps feet first into racing style. It has the trademark tachymeter on the dial and a 24-hour bezel that frames its 42mm face. Three chronograph dials continue the racing functionality, as does the signature Mille Miglia red-arrow race logo. While it comes with a fine leather strap, this sporty offering might feel a bit more fitting on a thick rubber strap.
Chopard Mille Miglia Racing Colors
These are arguably the most popular watches in the line. We need to leap forward 30 years from its debut to the anniversary editions we saw in 2018. The watches stayed true to the racing roots. The five colors on the 30th-anniversary rollout represent the colors of the countries that competed in the original race. France raced blue Bugatti’s, Italy drove red Alfa Romeos, the British brought green Bentleys, Silver Arrow Mercedes came from Germany, and Belgium competed with yellow race cars. Each watch in the group sports these different dial colors. In common they have 42mm wide stainless steel cases with 12.67mm thickness, screw-down crowns, and pushers to operate chronograph functions in true vintage racing style.
Does the Name Sound Familiar?
No, you’re not crazy. Well, at least not for any strange sense of familiarity you may have felt with the name Mille Miglia. That’s also the name of Italian airline Alitalia’s frequent flyer program. Classic Corvettes are painted with Mille Miglia Red. And the Mille Miglia is also a type of jacket, featuring goggles in the hood, that’s popular with British soccer fans.
But the name Mille Miglia will forever be associated with the iconic watches from Chopard. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky few who are invited to take the wheel of a classic roadster. More realistically, just keep an eye out online and perhaps one of these coveted watches will find their way from the race routes of Italy to your wrist.