The Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition and the Mille Miglia Lab One are the latest iterations in Chopard’s decades-long collection of timepieces that celebrate the annual Mille Miglia vintage car race. The two couldn’t be any more dissimilar: the former takes its design cues from the past, while the latter feels altogether futuristic.
The Mille Miglia is today one of the world’s most esteemed car races. The inaugural event dates back to 1927, its purpose to replace the Italian Grand Prix which was once held in the city of Brescia. The Mille Miglia took drivers from Brescia to Rome and back, travelling a distance of, naturally, 1000 miles through the Italian countryside. The race ceased in 1957 after two serious road accidents before being revived in 1977 as a classic car parade of sorts – a format that continues to this day. It’s easily one of the most exclusive meets on the global racing calendar – only 450 handpicked teams are allowed to compete – and remains rich with tradition, an annual institution for vintage automobile buffs and, as of 32 years ago, watch enthusiasts alike.
In 1988, Swiss jewellery and watchmaker Chopard began sponsoring the Mille Miglia and became the race’s official timekeeper. The date marked a considerable shift for Chopard; not only was the company the Mille Miglia’s biggest sponsor and one of the first watchmakers to be synonymous with automobiles, but it also heralded the launch of a new, now iconic, collection. Each year since, Chopard and Mille Miglia have worked in partnership to produce a limited-edition commemorative watch inspired by the vintage cars that take part in the race. The creative alliance is an ideal match; Chopard’s co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele has a passion for classic cars and has even competed in the Mille Miglia 31 times. “Lovers of fine cars often have a weakness for fine timepieces and vice versa,” says Scheufele. “In both cases, extreme precision and sporting elegance are especially important.”
In 2020, Chopard has introduced a new collection of watches to celebrate the occasion, the latest of which were released on October 22 to coincide with the first day of the Mille Miglia race.
Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition
The Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition is decidedly retro in its appearance, with a vintage automobile-inspired aesthetic that’s immediately distinguishable without being overly exaggerated. It has a beadblasted Diamond Like Carbon (DLC)-treated 42mm case inspired by the satin black and gunmetal finishes on classic cars, complete with a matt black dial and yellow markings that provide a distinct contrast. The yellow finishes across the minute track, tachymeter scale and Arabic numerals offer the watch incredible legibility, making it an ideal timepiece for race participants (which is particularly advantageous as each one is gifted a watch before the Mille Miglia starts). The only variation in colouration is the red tip at the end of the second hand and the red arrow on the dial imprinted with ‘1000 Miglia’ that illustrates the watch’s heritage.
Inside, the 2020 Race Edition carries a mechanical movement with automatic winding that’s chronometer-certified and offers a 42-hour power reserve. There are two versions of the 2020 Race Edition: an all-black iteration limited to 1000 pieces and another with a striking 18-carat ethical rose gold bezel limited to only 250 pieces.
Chopard Mille Miglia Lab One
This year, Chopard has also taken its Mille Miglia collection into relatively uncharted territory with the launch of the forward-thinking Lab One. The watch is a clear departure from previous Mille Miglia models and marks a significant milestone: it’s Chopard’s first concept watch (boasting two patents) and first automatic tourbillon chronometer.
The high-tech feel of the Lab One is evident across both its aesthetics and mechanics. The titanium cushion-shaped case measures 48.6mm by 46mm and has been finished with the same black DLC treatment as the 2020 Race Edition, lending it a heavily sporty feel. The black, red and silver colouring are reminiscent of the watch’s roots in car racing, but it’s the finer details – including the silver radiator grille-like detailing and black bonnet on the dial, and the woven carbon fibre strap – that are a true testament to its motorsports-inspired design.
The watch’s functionality is where things get really interesting. The Lab One is powered by the new Chopard 04.03-M calibre, a self-winding mechanical tourbillon movement with an impressive 485 components and 60-hour power reserve, that features a rare patented stop mechanism: like a car’s disk brake system, its tourbillon cage can be blocked by axially mounted levers that are triggered by the pulling of the crown. This allows the watch to be adjusted down to the second, a rather remarkable quality for a tourbillon movement. Equally extraordinary is the watch’s patented invisible crown that sits neatly enclosed in its left side, making the watch more ergonomically sound for drivers and equipping it with water resistance to 50 metres. Given its technical calibre, and the fact that it’s limited to a mere 20 pieces, the Lab One is sure to be a highly sought-after model among collectors.