Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph
The Chopard Mille Miglia is still around. I know it seems like Chopard is all L.U.C. and Alpine Eagle these days, but I promise the Mille Miglia—which commemorates the legendary Italian road race of the same name—is very much alive and well. Every year, in fact, Chopard has released a race edition with an external tachymeter bezel (here’s the one from last year), and the Classic edition has also had its fair share of LEs. But after years of special editions, the Chopard Mille Miglia collection was due for a remodel, and that’s just what it got for Watches and Wonders 2023. Now in a smaller case with the brand’s proprietary Lucent Steel, including a two-tone version with rose gold, the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph is more appealing than ever. The biggest updates are to the case, which sees the Mille Miglia sized down from 42mm to 40.5mm, in line with current trends and I’m sure welcome by almost all. The bezel and crystal have also been updated: A “glass-box” sapphire crystal replaces the flat crystal for a more vintage vibe, while a thinner polished bezel gives the dial some breathing room. Although the case size has been reduced 1.5mm, some of that will be made up by thinning the bezel, which makes the dial, and therefore the watch, appear larger. On account of the new domed crystal, the case has gone from 12.67mm-thick to 12.88mm-thick; while this isn’t a huge leap, it will be more noticeable since the case diameter was also reduced. On balance, all these dimension shifts will likely only result in a slightly different wrist presence, which will be aided by lugs that feature a more significant curve. While the three color dials are fitted on perforated leather straps mimicking leather driving gloves, the black dial has a rubber strap modeled on the tread of 1960s Dunlop racing tires, which is cool; all four come with a redesigned pin buckle closure. Chopard has also upgraded the cases to its proprietary Lucent Steel. This includes the brake-pedal textured pushers, the knurled steering wheel crown, and the welded lugs. I know “Lucent Steel” sounds like some gimmick akin to Blue Steel vs. Magnum, but the difference is real, and I’ll quote our own review of the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono from 2020 to help you understand: Lucent Steel is an ethical, sustainable, double-forged steel alloy that took the brand four years to develop. You can read more in our article debuting the Alpine Eagle collection. The two-tone variant also features Lucent Steel, with ethically sourced 18k rose gold for the bezel, crown, and pushers.
The new Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph is available in four variants: Verde Chiaro (light green), Rosso Amarena (cherry red), Nero Corsa (racing black), and Grigio-Blue (gray-blue). Now that you know Italian, I can tell you that the red, green, and grey-blue dials all have circular satin-brushed finishing while the black dial features what the brand refers to as an engine-turned finish and what I refer to as perlage (though I agree with the brand that it reminds one of vintage metal dashboards). The entire idea of the different color dials is to establish a deeper connection to racing. Inspired though they may be by race cars, Chopard doesn’t go into details about which cars, which would have added a bit of depth to the watch’s story. That said, I will admit that some race cars are green and some are red and some are black and I’m sure some are even gray-blue. The overall layout and style of the new model is almost identical to the previous generation, with two chronograph registers, a running seconds at 3 o’clock, and a color-matched date wheel at 4:30 (if it weren’t color matched, I’d rant for an extra paragraph). One change is the shift from a simple white line around the registers to a thick border scale. Further, the registers no longer indicate their respective units. While I can’t confirm, I believe the brand has also slimmed down the hour numerals, which are filled with the Super-LumiNova also seen on the sword hands. For a pop of color, all four dials feature the red “1000 Miglia” logo and a matching tip on the chronograph seconds hand. Chopard isn’t specific about which movement is in the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph, but we know the previous models had an ETA 2894-2 modular automatic chronograph movement. Other than some striping on the rotor and the brand’s name in gold, this movement appears to be no more embellished than other high-grade ETAs, with some perlage on the bridges and blued screws. The ETA 2894-2 affords 42 hours of power at 28,800 vph, and the brand indicates it is COSC-certified, keeping time at -4/+6 seconds per day.
Sometimes the hunt for an Entry Level watch includes an element of surprise. That was certainly the case when I filtered all of Chopard’s current catalog by price, only to find that the brand’s most accessibly-priced mechanical watch is one that has grown on me over the past few years – the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph.
The Mille Miglia has long been described as the most beautiful motor race on Earth, although I expect Italians to say that about every race they have. I also expect the French might have something to say about that, given that motor racing and, indeed, the car developed from infancy there. And yet, Chopard’s Mille Miglia remains a key reminder that historical motor races have a place in today’s world of 8K television and TikTokers with personalities as real as my self-confidence.