September 11, 2018
by Zen Love
Despite emphasizing its connection to the relatively niche classic car racing event for which the collection is named, Chopard has done well creating a broader appeal for the Mille Miglia line of motor-sporty chronographs. Celebrating 30 years of doing so, the limited edition Chopard Mille Miglia “Racing Colors” have five colorful dial variations representing different countries’ racing livery. They are fun to look at and wear, if a bit expensive, and primarily aimed at car fans and collectors. But that won’t stop us from musing about the potential of more dial color options in the industry in general and appreciating some lively vintage-style watches.
The name Mille Miglia means “thousand miles” in Italian and is the name, if you didn’t already know, of an Italian car rally in May from Brescia to Rome and back, apparently also known as “the world’s most beautiful race.” In addition to a regular Mille Miglia collection, Chopard periodically does limited editions for the race. Being automotive-illiterate doesn’t stop me from appreciating racing-themed watches from time to time. Similarly, I’d love to go to the Mille Miglia simply to look at old cars and be in Italy. Since I am no car guy, however, it’s better to let someone like David Bredan discuss the Mille Miglia race as he did here reviewing the Chopard Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition watch, if you’d like to read more about it.
The Chopard Mille Miglia “Racing Colors” watches largely follow the form of existing Mille Miglia collection pieces but add five different brightly colored dials for each of the five countries: Italy, Germany, UK, France, and Belgium. They are red (“Rosso Corsa”), silver (“Speed Silver”), green (“British Racing Green”), blue (“Vintage Blue”), and yellow (“Speed Yellow”), respectively. Each has contrasting (except on the “Speed Silver”) silver sub-dials for the chronograph counters and running seconds. Okay, the sub-dials cutting off the Roman numeral hour markers and a 4:30 date window with contrasting date wheel might normally bother me, but here a little bit of chaos perhaps echoes the adrenalized sport.
The 42mm steel case (50m water-resistant) and general specs of the non-limited Chopard Mille Miglia watches are mostly unchanged. At 12.7mm thick, it’s not too bad for a chronograph and wears comfortably. Also, in addition to the tire-tread rubber straps usually associated with the collection, the Chopard Mille Miglia “Racing Colors” watches come on calfskin straps with sporty perforation and stitching to match the dial colors, as shown here.
Let me just say that I’d generally like to see more watches with dial colors such as green, yellow, and red, and that might be starting to happen slowly and quietly. Now that we’ve all probably got a blue watch or several, after blue became the new black, I think more people are open to such variety – if it’s done right. Therein, however, lies the challenge. Colors come in many tones and change significantly in different light, and it can be hard to get a sense of a color when seeing it in pictures. “British Racing Green,” for instance, is darkish to begin with, but in some of our pictures here it comes out looking almost black.
In addition to these racing colors, Mille Miglia fans will enjoy branding on the dial in red as well as on the caseback – which I don’t think is too much. Printed on the sapphire crystal display window for the movement is the name of the specific watch’s dial color, in that color – e.g., “British Racing Green.” I’m not usually crazy about stuff printed on the display caseback further obscuring the movement view, but it’s not as if this is one of the exquisite Chopard L.U.C movements produced in-house in Fleurier that occupy at least a couple high spots on my grail list. No, this appears to be a COSC chronometer-certified ETA 2894-2 automatic chronograph movement with a 4Hz rate and 42-hour power reserve – though Chopard coyly chooses not to name it.
The L.U.C collection aside, which belongs in a different class and separate discussion, Chopard’s men’s watches are largely about motorsports. With sourced movements, they tend to command prices that reflect the prestigious Chopard name. But even despite the prices, and not being at all a “car guy,” I do find myself visually excited by watches such as the Chopard Grand Prix De Monaco Historique Chronograph reviewed here, for instance. Chopard has never been afraid of a little color, and even had this shocking pink Gran Turismo XL Racing watch some years ago. For the Chopard Mille Miglia “Racing Colors,” its bright hues are a cool match with the vintage feel of the case and font, in my opinion.
As I imagine the atmosphere of the Mille Miglia race itself to be, Chopard’s watches for it are charming, cheerful, and probably an enjoyment reserved for the relatively affluent. Considering the $4,900 sticker on the non-limited Chopard Mille Miglia watches, these dial colors and their limited-edition “exclusivity” drive the price a bit higher than expected. The Chopard Mille Miglia “Racing Colors” watches are limited to 300 pieces in each color with a price of $6,080 USD. chopard.com