The Mille Miglia is one of the world’s most famous races. Established in 1927, the Mille Miglia (Italian for ‘thousand miles’) was originally an open-road, motorsport endurance race in the same vein as the Targa Florio and Carrera Panamericana. Always a dangerous race, it was banned in 1957 after two fatal crashes, but was re-established in 1977 as the classic car event.
The Mille Miglia Storico (not to be confused with the Rally 1000 Miglia, a modern rallying event) is unlike any other motorsports event in the world. Less about racing and more about celebrating the beauty of fine driving machines, the Mille Miglia is only open to cars, produced no later than 1957, which had attended (or were registered to) the original race. Only 450 handpicked teams can take part, making it the world’s most prestigious classic car endurance race.
Since becoming the Mille Miglia’s principal partner and official timekeeper in 1988, Swiss luxury maison Chopard has produced a new Mille Miglia timepiece every year. Over the decades, these have come to be highly sought-after collectors’ items, as much for their rarity – all are made in strictly limited numbers – as for the way they perfectly express the inextricable link between the worlds of classic cars and mechanical sports watches. Indeed, every team taking part in the famous Italian race is presented with the latest Mille Miglia Race Edition chronograph before they arrive at the start line.
This year’s edition is easily one of the best yet, available in two equally dramatic versions: full-black stainless steel, or black stainless steel and ethical 18ct rose gold.
Both versions of Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition feature a beadblasted, Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC)-treated case, a matt black varnished dial and contrasting ‘vintage yellow’ markings. The combination adds up to a retro look that appears entirely at home at the steering wheel of a classic automobile, yet which works equally well for regular day or evening wear.
Partly inspired by the satin black and ‘gunmetal’ finishes often seen on vintage cars, the DLC finish gives the 42mm case a highly attractive appearance that is also scratch-resistant and non-reflective, in a perfect fusion of Swiss horological excellence and Italian-inspired style. Comfort and a perfect fit are assured by the use of short strap lugs, while the practical nature of the timepiece is demonstrated by the extreme legibility resulting from the strong contrast between the matt black dial surface and the vintage yellow minute track and tachymeter scale. Legibility is further enhanced by the ultra-bright Super-LumiNova that fills the Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition’s numerals.
A playful element of the watch is its strap: a black, perforated leather number with tone-on-tone stitching and a rubber lining featuring Chopard’s signature tread pattern, based on that of a 1960s Dunlop racing tyre (if the racing theme couldn’t be made more obvious). Other nice touches include a subtle red Mille Miglia direction arrow below the Chopard logo at 12 o’clock and a steering wheel design on the crown.
The all-black model will be limited to 1,000 pieces, plus a further run of 250 fitted with bezels made from contrasting beadblasted 18-carat ethical rose gold. Both of them are powered by a chronometer-certified mechanical movement with automatic winding enabling a comfortable 42-hour power reserve.
If you’re thinking of picking one up for yourself, check out the Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition collection online here. But get that engine running quick – they won’t last forever.