Winding 1,000 miles from the heart of Hollywood up the scenic California coastline, the California Mille is one of the premier events on the American classic car rallying calendar. Envisioned as an American counterpart to the legendary Italian 1000 Miglia auto race, the California Mille is scheduled to host its 31st running from April 24th to April 28th, 2022, and for the fourth consecutive time, the event will partner with Chopard to celebrate the joy of driving. In conjunction with the event, Chopard has launched a new limited-edition variant of its sporty Mille Miglia GTS Chrono line, featuring aesthetic nods to the event and the classic sporting machines that will embark on the four-day tour. The new limited-edition Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Chrono California Mille 31st Edition offers some of the most handsome finishing in the series to date, with playful touches inspired by the event and a striking monochrome colorway.
At 44mm-wide and 13.8mm-thick, the stainless steel case of the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Chrono California Mille 31st Edition shares its design and bold sizing with the rest of the line. Like the rest of the series, its combination of a narrow tachymeter bezel and broad, squarish lugs should give this watch a muscular stance on the wrist, but the sharp downturn on the lug tips coupled with the short overall lug length will likely keep this model from feeling overwhelmingly large. Chopard introduces a sense of warmth and refinement to this design in images through a series of charismatic details. The piston pushers are broad and flat-topped, with knurled surfacing that gives depth to the case’s mix of brushed and polished surfaces while evoking the textures of antique dashboard switchgear. For the aluminum bezel insert’s tachymeter scale, Chopard turns to the Mille Miglia line’s signature warm and airy typography. Inspired by the look of ‘50s Italian road signage, this rounded, midcentury-style typeface gives the Mille Miglia GTS Chrono California Mille 31st Edition a retro Continental charm that more common, utilitarian typefaces tend to lack. Chopard offers a remarkably simple and restrained treatment for the caseback here, with only a simple brushed solid surface punctuated by an engraved limited-edition serial number. As with the rest of the line, Chopard rates this model for a solid 100 meters of water resistance.
Chopard has certainly played with the idea of unorthodox dial finishes in the Mille Miglia series before, but for the Mille Miglia GTS Chrono California Mille 31st Edition the brand creates one of its most distinctive and topical dial surfaces to date. Perlage (better known as engine turning outside horological circles) is a familiar sight in movement finishing, but has a rich history in the automotive industry as well, particularly as firewall and dashboard decoration for brands such as Bentley. These engine-turned dashes were a common sight among competitors in the original pre-1957 incarnation of the Mille Miglia, and continue on as an evocative accent for modern supercar marques such as Spyker. Chopard’s use of engine turning for the main dial surface here not only ties the watch in with the history of the event, it also creates an eye-catching alternative to the familiar silver sunburst motif. The perlage pattern is tight and dynamic in initial images, with clearly visible rings within the engine turned circles displaying a range of fine silver highlights and lowlights. The partial azurage finish and printed scales of the matte black chronograph subdials at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock also tie into this classic racing dashboard theme, with texturing and layouts reminiscent of midcentury sporting gauges. By contrast, the 9 o’clock running seconds subdial’s dial-matching silver colorway allows it to act as a background element in images, without completely sacrificing a sense of legibility or detail. Chopard also keeps legibility in mind with the tapering baton handset and pointed applied indices of the Mille Miglia GTS Chrono California Mille 31st Edition, with a glossy black finish that allows these elements to stand out against the reflective silver dial surface. It’s at 3 o’clock, however, where this dial will likely turn divisive among enthusiasts. The simple cutout date window is nicely integrated with a matching silver date wheel, but in place of the standard 1000 Miglia road sign emblem, this model instead uses the California Mille’s logo. On its own, this is a playful, casual logo design that befits the relaxed sprezzatura nature of the event, combining the classic bright red 1000 Miglia arrow sign with the traditional “USA” country decal at a jaunty angle. In execution, however, the off-kilter emblem is likely to aggravate alignment-minded enthusiasts.
As with the rest of the series, Chopard powers the Mille Miglia GTS Chrono California Mille 31st Edition with an unspecified automatic chronograph movement. Although the brand keeps its origins close to the vest, given the layout and size, it’s more than likely that this movement is a derivative of the long-serving ETA/Valjoux 7750 series. Despite nearly 50 years in production, this movement family continues to offer robust performance, including a solid 48-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Chopard also submits this movement to COSC for accuracy testing, where it meets the stringent COSC chronometer standard. Chopard completes the design with a classic perforated black leather rally strap, featuring the brand’s signature rubber lining with texturing inspired by the tread pattern of ‘50s Dunlop racing tires.
With striking new dial finishing and a charmingly relaxed spirit, the new Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Chrono California Mille 31st Edition is a thoughtful and handsome tribute to one of America’s premier classic car rallying events. Only 31 examples of the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Chrono California Mille 31st Edition will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Chrono California Mille 31st Edition stands at $7,720 as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.