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 2020 Race Edition Chronograph has pulled up to the start line.
And what a watch it is. The endless stream of classic cars may turn heads as they tear down the Adriatic Coast and through the Terminillo Mountains — but our eyes are fixed firmly on the wrists of the drivers. 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.
The full-black design of this year’s Race Edition revisits the looks of previous years — with a bead-blasted, DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) treated case, matt-black varnished dial and contrasting markings in ‘vintage yellow’. It’s a pared-back, retro aesthetic that looks entirely at home behind the wheel of classic motors — possibly because the satin black and gun metal finishes take inspiration themselves from the design of vintage cars.
Thankfully, like the cars, the Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition is more than up to the job. With an eye for practicality, the contrast between the dial, minute track and tachymeter scale lend the watch unrivalled legibility — which makes tallying those all-important speed and distance calculations as easy as possible. There’s even a burst of Super-LumiNova in the Arabic numerals to aid drivers in low-light conditions.
But our favourite heritage touch is that hint of red — the subtle inclusion of the famous 1000 Miglia direction arrow, and corresponding red tip of the seconds hand. Maintaining a strong link with history is the cornerstone of the Mille Miglia timepiece collection, or so says Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele — an avid classic car enthusiast and 31-time Mille Miglia competitor himself.
“We had our younger clients in mind when we created this year’s watch,” says Scheufele. “Younger generations are increasingly interested in classic cars, and we’re seeing newly married couples as well as father-and-son tandems taking part in events such as the Mille Miglia. This year’s watch is very much intended for them.”
However, as always, the watches will disappear quicker than a vintage speedster over the horizon — with only 1,000 all-black Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition watches made. Each comes with a black, perforated leather strap featuring tone-on-tone stitching, and is powered by a chronometer-certified movement with 42-hour power reserve.
Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition