Chopard has been stepping up its game when it comes to series-produced in-house calibers. The L.U.C range of movements have been around for long, but they admittedly were designed and finished (and consequently priced) to compete with Geneva Seal or Patek Seal calibers. Hence, for the last number of years, Chopard has been busy expanding its in-house production capacities as well as the range of calibers it could use in relatively more affordably priced collections. What we have inside the Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition is the Chopard 03.05-C movement.
To cover the basics, we’ll say that the automatic 03.05-C offers 60 hours of power reserve, runs at 4 Hertz, is COSC chronometer certified to run somewhere between -4 and +6 seconds per day, and has a column wheel-operated chronograph. Nothing crazy or out of the ordinary here – what is to be liked about the 03.05-C concerns aesthetics more than the barely above-average performance.
The movement is actually set inside a “bowl-like” space, with a sloping ring surrounding it. With the movement’s diameter being a given, watchmakers have two options to add space around the movement when fitting it into larger cases. First, they can just cover the excess space by the case-back, putting a relatively small sapphire window on it – which is often and rightfully criticized, as it makes the movement appear to be even smaller than it already is. Second, and this is what we have here, they add a wide sapphire crystal to the back and show off the spacer ring. This helps in the sense that the ring visually becomes a part of the movement, making it appear larger and not smaller.
It is this ring where Chopard has placed the in-your-face Mille Miglia logo, the unique number of the piece out of the 1,000 pieces made in steel (100 pieces are also available in 18k rose gold), a Chopard logo, water resistance rating, as well as the unique serial number of the case. All the engravings are beautifully executed – which is not always the case, even on watches at this price point.
The movement is a rather two-faced one, in the sense that one side of it proudly exposes the balance wheel and escapement, as well as some of the wheels of the going train, while the other half of it is covered up by one larger plate with a cut-out added only to reveal the column wheel. Composed of multiple layers, the movement can be appreciated throughout all its levels, all the way from its lowest segment with the balance wheel – which, mind you, plays in an unusual, rose gold color – all the way to the top, where the accelerator gears of the automatic winding and the rotor can be found.
Finishing is good throughout, with beveled and polished edges, polished screw-heads, and some subtle, swirling grooves applied to the larger plates adorning the Chopard 03.05-C. Feel of the 12-hour chronograph’s pushers is solid, as is expected from a recently developed column wheel chronograph. All in all, the 03.05-C is another superb caliber from Chopard, both for its quality of execution and for its performance.
The Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition could have been called the “Versatile Edition.” Whether or not you like the bold design with its large, 46-millimeter-wide case and rather busy dial is up to your personal taste and preferences. What can be said objectively, though, is that this year’s, and in fact this particular Mille Miglia release by Chopard takes a few steps back from the co-branding stuff and successfully concentrates on being a versatile daily wear that works with shorts as well as it does with jeans or even more formal attire – and yes… looks at home on the race track, too.
Price for the Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition is $9,800, and that puts it up against heavy hitters like the Zenith El Primero or the Bulgari Octo Velocissimo, and not too far from the new Rolex Daytona – but it is one heck of a strong package from its design through the quality of execution, all the way to the superb strap, so it should do just fine. chopard.com
>Model: Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition (reference 168580-3001)
>Size: 46mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: The one who likes to mix sportiness with elegance.
>Best characteristic of watch: Spot on balance between bold and wearable, vintage and modern design. Great movement too.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Wish it was available in a size smaller than 46 millimeters.