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Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Car racing and watches: such a seemingly ever-young combination, tirelessly perpetuated by the countless automotive-inspired watches released year over year. Despite the highly saturated segment, there actually are very few watches that can pull off this racing vibe and remain wearable for the times when, you know, you are not driving your Porsche 550 Spyder on the twisty roads along the Côte d’Azur. The Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition (reference 168580-3001) promises to be one of these few, offering a mix of subtle Mille Miglia branding and not-so-subtle vintage racing-inspired design elements. Let’s see how it performs – not on the race track, but on the wrist.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

A Few Words About The Mille Miglia

The Mille Miglia has to be one of the more obscure, and yet – reportedly – most amazing car racing series organized today.

Held earlier this year, between May 19th and 22nd, the event featured more than 400 teams, competing over the one-thousand-mile (around 1,600km) distance between Brescia and Rome. The Mille Miglia is reserved for classic and vintage cars that have been a part of the historical races between 1927 and 1957 and leads through some R-rated driving roads of Italy. Since 1988, Chopard has served as historical world sponsor and official timekeeper of the car rally also known as “the world’s most beautiful race.”

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Sounds like a magnificent time to be had… Yet, somehow, I have always felt that while it is a race based on admirable heritage and a genuine appreciation of vintage race cars, the number of Chopard watches dedicated to it, as well as the emphasis placed on plastering Mille Miglia everywhere on most of said watches, was a bit overkill for many prospective buyers who would otherwise have liked the design, price point, and quality of Chopard’s racing-inspired timepieces. It has to be a terrific race, no doubt about it, but I always wondered if its fan base was as large and as dedicated to the event as it would need to be to justify previous Mille Miglia watch designs.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

This reason exactly is why I was excited to review this Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition: on the front of it, there only is a small, and in fact beautifully integrated Mille Miglia logo at 12 – and that’s all the co-branding that you get pushed in your face. “Finally,” I thought, “a Mille Miglia watch that will be about restrained sportiness the way Chopard does it and about me wearing it all the time… and not about a 4-day event I can hardly relate to.” Co-branding and enhanced brand exposure is nice and all, but tasteful design and long-term wearability should come first, I think.

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Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

More Than A Few Words About The Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition
Wearability

From the moment of putting it on my wrist, what I liked most about the Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition was that it actually is not a race edition. No perforated straps, no in-your-face branding, no carbon fiber, not even a tachymeter engraved bezel! I could sense the sportiness and the “racing inspiration” in the design – it was there from the get-go – but it was hidden under a thick layer of nicely balanced, timeless chronograph watch design.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Its perfectly round, 46-millimeter-wide case is inarguably large, but with its piston pushers, vintage wheel hub-shaped crown and long, straight lugs, it is as elegant as it is sporty. A rather impressively performed tight-rope walk between these two, often mutually exclusive vibes.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

As large as this “2016 XL Race Edition” is, it remains proportionate and, hence, pleasing to the eye – and the wrist (if we can say such a thing). In fact, if you take a look from afar, because most all dial elements have been sufficiently enlarged to support the wider case, this Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition looks a lot like a traditional chronograph that’s taken some 100 Octane fuel and been blown up by about 25%.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The sub-dials are not tragicomically close to one another, thanks to Chopard’s more recently designed movement (more on that in a bit), and no dial design element appears to be a leftover from 10 years ago, when they were making watches 4-6 millimeters smaller. A reliable sign of thoughtful and truly modern watch design is the sizing of the hands: here, they are unusually wide and long, indicating not only the time, but also how nice a large watch can look if it has properly sized hands.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

On my 6.75″ wrist, this 46-millimeter watch was about 2 millimeters larger than what I could best get away with; and yet, I have still ended up wearing it throughout the two or so weeks I have had it. I could adjust the strap to its tightest setting that allowed it to wrap around my wrist snugly – I know my wrists are of the thinner sort, but I still get frustrated when I can’t put a watch on because of its super long strap and lack of one extra punched hole in it.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Speaking of the strap, it is one of the thickest straps ever fitted to a luxury watch – even by Panerai standards, it has some considerable heft to it. The extra thickness does not compromise comfort one bit, though, as the calfskin strap was flexible and soft out of the box, and took about a day for it to break in. The color choice is especially clever, as it falls somewhere between brown and burgundy, and that little hint of dark red makes all the difference in versatility – without compromising the more elegant and/or vintage mood of the brown.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The double folding clasp is comfortable and utterly fails to reproduce any of the typical folding clasp annoyances, like ridiculously difficult adjustability or operation, barely functional pushers, or painful inner profile that digs into the wrist. Sometimes, I would much prefer an ordinary tang buckle to some of today’s fancy clasps, but Chopard did a good job on picking this one.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Legibility

The hands we have already discussed briefly, but time now for a look at how the Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition performs when it comes to legibility. The dial, like most “racing” chronographs, is rather busy, a sensation further enforced by the large Arabic numerals, some of which are overlapped by the sub-dials. A not entirely unusual total of three tiers frames the dial: on the flange ring, we have a tachymeter scale, thankfully executed in a rather small print that signifies its actual usefulness; on the edge of the dial itself, we find a seconds track, each notably split into 4 segments, which corresponds with the 4-Hertz frequency of the watch; while for the indices on the inside, we have the aforementioned, lume-filled Arabic numerals, with one smaller pip at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions.

Thanks to the shiny and still very large hour and minute hands, I never cared much about the lume on this piece – as long as there is any minimal amount of light, you will be able to quickly spot the hands.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The dial itself has a scarcely visible, circular brushed finishing to it that helps elevate its already impressively high quality look. All the texts and numerals have been applied flawlessly, which is not out of the ordinary for watches in this segment – but a different sensation when done in such a blown-up size, on this wide canvas that is the large dial of the Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition.

Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

There is a date at 4:30 and, again, something rare among 46-millimeter watches: it is correctly positioned close to the edge of the dial, right where it should be, indicating an amply sized movement – if this had a 7750 (or any clone of that) inside, the date would fall much closer to the center of the dial. I’d even venture to say that Chopard has picked a bigger date disc to go with the larger cut-out of the dial – these little, thoughtful details above and under the surface can make all the difference.

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Comments

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  • HectorAsuipe

    All those hour markers being chopped up in a 46mm watch is a shame. Just go with pips and quit cutting the numerals!

    • The Old Watcheroo

      i stopped reading the article @ the mention of 46mm

  • MEddie90

    I love the movement, nice architecture with a well done but spartan finish. Not to keen on the styling and size though. 46mm is getting on the larger side and based upon the pictures it looks thick and ungainly on the wrist, especially when you consider the dimensions of the movement and the massive spacer they use to keep it in place.

    Shrink the watch to a reasonable size, change the numerals for simple dots/sticks and you may be on to a winner.

    • Yeah, what he said.

      • word-merchant

        What they both said.

        • Raymond Wilkie

          I concur.

          • laup nomis

            Ditto…

          • DanW94

            Likewise….

          • MEddie90

            The opinions mutual.

          • Juan-Antonio Garcia

            Me 8.

          • Timestandsstill

            What the heck? I’m in. Plus I’d change the strap.

  • Luciano

    Movement aside, the older GT XL Chrono is in my opinion a better looking and more original option from Chopard, at at about half the price.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    It’s all a little cramped and squashed in. Not nice.

  • Shane Laake

    While not perfect, I’d certainly love to wear this timepiece. My biggest gripe is the subdials that cut into the hour numbers–it’s a real pet peeve of mine. Think it makes a squashed dial look even more so. I agree the GT XL Chrono looks better, if for no other reason, the lack of chopped hour markers.

  • SuperStrapper

    It is not unattractive, and has a sporty flair that would also suit a ‘business casual’ setting nicely. But one of my first thoughts was ‘would I pick it over an el primero?’ And the answer is no. That is the chronograph that all chronographs in this demographic compete against, and you’ve got to be especially special to do so. No knocks on this one, it just doesn’t surpass. The dimensions don’t offend me. A little larger than I would normally consider, but I’m not waif-wristed and can handle it. I’d do up a better strap though.

    Changing gears: was the mobile format of this site changed very recently? It appears different today. Not complaining, just wondering if it’s the site or my phone.

  • Archie Miller

    Would not wear.

  • BNABOD

    Nice offering just too big and too expensive and w 46 mm should be enough room to fit the whole numbers

  • Marius

    I find this to be a very attractive watch, but I have three problems with it.

    Firstly, why is a classical racing inspired watch 46mm? It’s simply huge. Even IWC reduced the size of the Top Gun Chronograph from 46 to 44.

    Secondly, while I think that the Mille Miglia line offers a very good quality (especially if you look at the cases and dials), I have always perceived it as a semi fashion line. I mean, the association with Mille Miglia is a bit artificial and without the same essence of the Navitimer, Daytona, GMT Master, or the IWC Pilots watches.

    Thirdly, I find the price to be extremely high, especially looking at the competition. Besides the Zenith El Primero and the Breitling Navitimer 01 (both have great movements, are more iconic, and are cheaper) you also have the JLC Master Chronograph, the Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial and the Rolex Daytona. And for a little more, you could buy the IWC Portuguese Chrono Classic, which is a much more attractive watch, and also has a slightly better flyback movement.

  • mtnsicl

    Very attractive and just the perfect size!

  • Yanko

    Why 46mm? Why such overloaded dial? Chopard wants to breathe the air of the Alpine summits, but with this watch is pressed flat to the plains.

  • Kuroji

    That is one hell of a strap.

  • The Old Watcheroo
  • Larry Holmack

    I like the idea of the watch…but Chopard needs to learn how to make a larger watch first!! Just because you have a larger dial to work with doesn’t mean you can’t make it look elegant!!! The dial is too cluttered and not very well thought out.

  • Leonard Martinez

    I have the Mille Miglia in 44mm, white (silver) dial with power indicator. It uses a Valgranges movement with a rotor that does a lot of spinning. I was looking forward to this new engine and am delighted that Chopard finally got the size right. It’s surprising how visible the dial is on my 44mm offering. It’s because there’s no bezel. You get more dial that way and, consequently, better legibility. 46mm! Perfect! This one is now on my list. 46mm! Love it.