For two years running, Chopard has been the Official Timekeeper and sponsor of the annual California Mille car race. The California Mille is a 1000-mile race through the backroads and towns of northern California. The four-day open-road adventure is a homage to Italy’s Mille races held from 1927 to 1957. To commemorate the race, Chopard has released the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph California Mille Edition Watch — a watch that’s so “Mille-y” the brand included it in the name twice.
Case & Dial
The polished stainless steel case measures in at a modest 42mm in diameter and features a sapphire crystal. I find this to be a perfect size for racing chronographs. I also think the polished case is pleasant, even if it’s not something I would normally spring for in a sport watch. One of my favorite features of the Mille Miglia collection is the pushers. The large onion-esque crown, with slightly exaggerated pushers, is simply aesthetically pleasing and functional, something racing watches perplexingly forego more often than they should. The watch comes on a leather strap with rubber underbelly and is water resistant up to 50 meters.
The dial, however, is where the California Mille Edition really shines. Taking influence from the California state flag, the most blatant feature is the red racing stripe at about 6 o’ clock. Further, the green tachymeter contrasts nicely with the dial. Mimicking vintage dashboards, the silver dial features matching subdials but with enough texture to not get lost. Overall, the dial looks and feels quintessentially California without any unnecessary California Mille-specific branding. That’s something I’ve always admired about Chopard’s limited and special edition watches. Besides the cut-off indices, my only other criticism is the date. I think it should have been omitted altogether instead of obstructing the red stripe.
Flipping the watch over, however, you’ll find the “California Republic” flag across the sapphire caseback. It’s less subtle, and I can already hear the gripes about covering up the movement, but it doesn’t bother me. The movement is unspecified, but it’s likely the ETA 2894-2 self-winding chronograph used in previous Mille Miglia watches. The COSC-certified movement features a 42-hour power reserve and beats at 4-Hz.
I now have four Mille Miglia articles under my belt, and this is undoubtedly my favorite. I have no personal connection to California, but that doesn’t stop me from finding this watch one of the most charming of the collection. It does a great job of bringing a subtle influence from a niche event to a staple watch. The Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph California Mille Edition will be limited to 29 pieces and is $6,590 — a $500 premium over the traditional Racing Colors models. Read more at chopard.com.