The Mille Miglia, like any other half-decent race or rally, is all about timing. Much more than a straight, speed-fuelled dash to the finish line, the iconic Italian event began as a 1,000 mile road race from Brescia to Rome and back again in the 1920s. Over the years it has gone through many incarnations, but the art of timing has always remained the race’s beating, ticking heart.
So who better to partner with than Chopard? World sponsor of the Mille Miglia, Chopard has been the official timekeeper of the event since 1988. And, every year, the Swiss Maison produces a new timepiece to commemorate all of the drivers and daredevils ever to have taken part. This year — and with the rally taking place this week — the Mille Miglia 2022 Race Edition chronograph has pulled up to the start line.
And this latest edition of the annual watch celebrates the 40th edition of the motoring re-enactment, and is available in two versions. The first all-steel iteration will roar off the starting ramp in a run of 1,000 timepieces; while the second interpretation featuring ethical 18-carat rose gold adorning the crown, pushers and bezel will be produced in a 250-piece edition.
And what watches they are. The endless stream of classic cars may turn heads as they tear down the Adriatic Coast and across the Raticosa Pass — but our eyes are fixed firmly on the wrists of the drivers. Because a chronograph is an essential piece of operational equipment for any serious rally contestant, and every team taking part in the Mille Miglia has been presented with the latest Race Edition before they set off.
Like every other timepiece in the Mille Miglia collection, this latest automatic winding chronograph is resolutely sporty and completely reliable. But the latest model differs from previous editions of the collection in a number of ways. First and foremost, it features a silver-grey dial marked by a subtle circular satin-brushed finish, and the use of an intense blue for the hands, hour-markers and bezel inlay.
Like every model in the Mille Miglia collection, this new interpretation reflects the codes of masculine elegance; refined and paying tribute to the brand’s love of fine mechanics. And the design is characterised by three technical pillars. The first of which, legibility, is an essential quality for any watch intended for use in racing, especially on an open road.
This attribute is embodied in the size of the baton-type hands, large and rimmed in bright blue, as well as in the finishing of the hour-markers based on the same principle of contrasting blue. There’s also the date at 3 o’clock, which is enlarged by a magnifying glass cut into the underside of the transparent sapphire crystal.
The second technical mainstay, precision, is an indispensable quality for a racing chronograph. The movement of the Mille Miglia 2022 Race Edition watch is therefore chronometer-certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, and equipped with an ultra-reliable and well-proven self-winding calibre — one that beats at a frequency of 4 Hz and has a 48-hour power reserve, making it an unfailing ally for drivers.
And the third technical pillar? Grip. The sign of a well-mastered vehicle, of carefully controlled driving – and of optimal racing performance, the watch exemplifies this ease of control through its mushroom-type pushers, which feature a large surface engraved with a knurled pattern to holds the finger steadily in place. The large-diameter crown is also ratcheted to ensure good grip and facilitate use.
To finish the design, the Mille Miglia 2022 Race Edition timepiece is fitted with a gold-toned calfskin strap lined with rubber. In keeping with the codes established at the birth of the Mille Miglia collection, its surface is patterned like the tread of 1960s Dunlop Racing tyres. And, for a final motoring-inspired flourish, the leather is perforated to reveal an underlying blue — and deliver the ultimate vintage racing effect.
Want more from the iconic event? Here’s a short history of the Mille Miglia, Italy’s most famous car race…
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