The world of historic auto racing is as much about channeling the style and atmosphere of racing’s glamorous past as it is about on-track competition, and few such events demonstrate this principle as dramatically as the Mille Miglia in Italy. Originally run as a flat-out road rally on a 1,000-mile loop of public roads stretching from Brescia to Rome and back through the heart of Italy from 1927 to 1957, the modern Mille Miglia is more of a celebration of motoring and the Italian countryside with an annual four-day jaunt through major Italian landmarks in some of the world’s most desirable classic automobiles. Chopard has been part of the revived Mille Miglia story since 1988, and to commemorate the 2021 edition of the event beginning on June 16, the brand has announced two new limited edition iterations of its vintage-inspired Mille Miglia chronograph. With graphical touches inspired by vintage Italian road signage and a wealth of unique and intriguing finishing, both versions of the new Chopard Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition deliver an intricate and charismatic retro-modern feel.
Like many iterations of the Mille Miglia, the 44mm case of the Chopard Mille Migla 2021 Race Edition appears to have a bold wrist presence in initial images. Available in either stainless steel or two-tone stainless steel and ethically sourced 18K rose gold, this case’s narrow tachymeter bezel and sizeable 13.8mm thickness contribute to a wide and imposing overall stance. That said, the wide-set short lugs should help to mitigate this size on the wrist somewhat. While the overall form is sporty and simple, where the design of the Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition truly shines is in the details. The main case body is fully brushed, allowing the polished surfaces of the crown, wide-knurled piston pushers, and bezel (all in rose gold on the two-tone model) to stand out starkly. The polished black ceramic bezel insert adds a healthy dose of personality to the mix, with a lacquered tachymeter scale with light, rounded typography lifted directly from midcentury Italian highway signs. While not strictly accurate to the ‘50s era the Mille Miglia event reminisces about, touches like this bathe the more modern profile of the Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition with a warm layer of nostalgic charm. The etched solid caseback continues this graphic style for the “Brescia > Roma > Brescia” text flanking the engraved checkered flag and Mille Miglia logo motif. The Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition boasts 100 meters of water resistance, which should be more than adequate for the sporting rigors of the event itself.
Both versions of the Chopard Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition share the same low-contrast reverse panda dial design, with the pointed applied hour indices, baton handset, and red-tipped chronograph hands finished in either stainless steel or rose gold depending on the model. The dial design carries on the rounded, retro typography of the bezel as well, with numerals in the rehaut, chronograph subdials, and the dial text showing off a vintage Italian flair. Perhaps the most interesting element of this dial design, however, is the main dial surface itself. With a graphite gray galvanically treated color, this muted surface sports a deep radially brushed finish. While radial brushing has become a popular alternative to sunburst finishing in recent years, the Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition stands out from the crowd with its execution. Rather than centering the radial brushing in the middle of the dial beneath the main handset, the brushing instead radiates outward from the running seconds indicator at 9 o’clock. This asymmetrical look is immediately eye-catching in images, and cleverly continues the azurage pattern of the subdial itself. It’s an interesting and individualist choice, one which goes contrary to the common practice among 7750-based chronograph dials to de-emphasize the running seconds indicator as much as possible.
Chopard does not elaborate on the powerplant inside the Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition beyond stating that it is an automatic chronograph movement and that it has been COSC chronometer-certified for accuracy. That said, based on the subdial layout, likely dimensions, and beat rate, it’s more than likely that this movement is an ETA/Valjoux 7750 or one of its many derivatives. The 7750 is a true stalwart of the watch industry, powering chronograph designs from a myriad of brands since 1974. Despite its age, the 7750 platform is still more than capable of reliability and accuracy, and in this application sports a serviceable 48-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. That said, some purists may be put off by the movement’s use at this price range, where many competitors use in-house chronograph movements. Chopard completes the Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition with a black calfskin rally strap with red or black contrast stitching and a textured rubber inner lining with a pattern inspired by ‘50s Dunlop racing tires.
By adding unique finishing, vintage-inspired graphical touches, and a cool white-on-gray look to the brand’s Mille Miglia chronograph series, the limited edition Chopard Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition brings together a handsome and evocative tribute to one of the world’s most stylish races. Only 1,000 examples of the stainless steel Chopard Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition will be made, while the two-tone steel and 18K ethical rose gold model will be limited to 250 units. The Chopard Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $7,610 in stainless steel and $11,000 in two-tone. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.