Although the pace of dial color trends may have slowed down slightly in the second half of 2023, the watch industry at large is still a more colorful place than it’s been at any other point in recent memory. Chopard is an enthusiastic participant in watchmaking’s ongoing “color revolution,” but the brand’s long-running vintage racing-inspired Mille Miglia chronograph line has largely remained in traditional colors until 2023. When the updated Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph was revealed at Watches and Wonders 2023, it brought with it a handful of unique, sumptuous colorways to go along with its smaller, more focused take on the Mille Miglia formula. Out of these new designs, perhaps none is more striking than the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph in red, which adds a dark, charismatic Bordeaux flair to this luxurious, characterful racing chronograph platform.
Smaller than previous Mille Miglia iterations at 40.5mm wide and 12.9mm thick, the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph’s case is a tighter, more detailed expression of the core Mille Miglia design. The familiar Mille Miglia design hallmarks are all here — the stepped bezel, curving chamfered lugs, rounded case side profile, and piston pushers included — but each of these familiar elements is massaged and refined into a crisper overall look. As a start, both the lower level of the rounded, terraced polished bezel and the consistent lug chamfers have been narrowed from previous iterations, removing much of the visual weight of the Mille Miglia’s case for a leaner feel that matches its new dimensions. The Mille Miglia line (excluding the more aggressive GTS sub-series) has always aimed to deliver a vintage-inflected chronograph experience on the wrist, but this new Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph might well be the first that genuinely embraces vintage proportions. The softness of the vertically brushed, subtly rounded mid-case keeps the case from coming off as harsh or aggressive, while the new brake pedal-inspired knurled texturing atop the chronograph pushers further drives home the design’s undercurrent of detailed refinement. Of course, a major component in this case’s charm is Chopard’s proprietary Lucent Steel alloy. Simply put, Lucent Steel shines brighter than the more common 316L or 904L stainless steel alloys, lending a more dynamic feeling to brushed and polished surfaces alike and further emphasizing the Mille Miglia’s positioning as a more sumptuous, luxe alternative to classic racing chronographs. The broad sapphire display caseback is carried over nearly verbatim from previous iterations, and the 50-meter water resistance rating remains an Achilles heel for the watch’s more sporting aspirations.
Red dials are still a relatively uncommon sight in modern watchmaking, but the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph makes an impressively charismatic case for red as a statement color. The main dial surface is finished in a deep, translucent sunburst lacquer finish the brand refers to as “Rosso Amarena” — Italian for cherry red. In practice, it’s a dark, highly saturated, almost hypnotically nuanced hue that simultaneously calls to mind Bordeaux wine, candy apples, and classic hot rods as much as any of the vintage European racing machines Chopard usually aims to evoke with the Mille Miglia series. Depending on the light and the viewing angle, it’s a color that can appear anywhere from dark chocolatey brown to vivid jewel-tone garnet, with a narrow, focused sunburst effect in most conditions. Chopard surrounds this dial surface with an impressive array of brightwork for a gentlemanly, refined feel. The outer tachymeter ring, with its light, Italian road sign-inspired typeface, is rendered in a handsome matte silver, while the chapter rings surrounding the subdials use brilliant, high-gloss white. For added visual flair, Chopard flanks these white subdial rings with hair-thin polished accent rings on both sides. Likewise, each of the needle-style subdial hands and the main straight sword handset are mirror-polished, which gives the dial a bright and intricate light play that matches the exotic steel of the case. The stylized, ever-contentious cutout Arabic hours numerals are each outlined with a narrow, glossy black edge to better visually separate them from their surroundings. By contrast, the main surfaces of the subdials are far more subdued compared to their surroundings, with desaturated matte maroon surfaces that visually harmonize with the wine-like undertones of the main dial. It’s almost a rule among watch enthusiasts that 4:30 date displays are destined to be controversial, but the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph’s matching date wheel and unobtrusive presentation should help it to rankle less than some of its competitors.
Chopard is generally tight-lipped about the automatic chronograph movement inside the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph, but like previous iterations, it’s almost certainly an ETA 2894-2 modular automatic chronograph movement. The 2894-2 is a fine powerplant on its own merits, with a 54-hour power reserve, a 28,800 bph beat rate, and COSC chronometer-grade accuracy. However, given that most of the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph’s competitors (including watches that cost far less than this one) use in-house chronograph movements, it’s difficult to fully justify the decision. On the visual side, the 2894-2 Chopard uses here is classically handsome, sporting blued screws, crisp perlage on the bridges, and intriguing diagonal Côtes de Genève for the rotor. To complete the watch, Chopard fits the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph with a perforated rally-style strap in saddle tan suede. The texture and sophisticated style of suede are a solid match for the watch’s design, and this strap imparts a healthy dose of vintage charisma to the watch while also offering excellent comfort and flexibility on the wrist.
The watch industry in 2023 is a more colorful place than it’s been in many years, but there are still many chromatic avenues to explore for brands looking to express themselves. The new Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph in red is a rich, compelling showcase of this principle in action, reinventing the brand’s midcentury Italian-inspired racing chronograph with a complex, finely detailed new personality. The Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for this watch stands at $9,030 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.