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At the races
THIS year marks another milestone for Chopard's Mille Miglia collection as the jewellery-watch house launched for the first time a pair of chronograph model, one for him and one for her. The new Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph for the couple came just a year shy of the 30th anniversary of Chopard's link with the Mille Miglia vintage car race in Italy.
Inspired by cars in the Mille Miglia between 1927 and 1940, the male version of the chronograph watch (S$7,030) has a black dial with large luminescent numerals in a 42mm stainless case that features a tachymetric scale to calculate average speed. The dial of the female timepiece (S$17,070) is crafted from white mother-of-pearl studded with diamonds and encased in a 39mm steel frame with a gem-set bezel.
Both watches are powered by a COSC-certified automatic movement. Like past Mille Miglia models, they are also sporty and have a chronograph with a tachymeter - and they use luminescent materials. Of course, there's the arrow-shaped Rossa Corsa red Mille Miglia at the the heart of the dial at 12 o'clock and around the rim of the case-back. This is an intangible code of the Mille Miglia's collection from the start.
Chopard's long partnership with Mille Miglia has produced a large watch collection, with models dating back to 1988 when the relationship was first forged. The early Mille Miglia watches were made only for the race drivers.
From 1997, Mille Miglia timepieces were marketed in limited editions. The limit was set by the year: for example, 2,014 Mille Miglia steel chronographs were available to the public in the year 2014, in addition to the 410 reserved for the race drivers. The word Competitor was inscribed on the dial of the timepieces set aside for the racers from 2014.
Wristwatches made up almost the entire Mille Miglia collection till 1990, when the first pocket-watch chronograph was added to it.
Five years later saw the arrival of the first rubber strap, inspired by the profile of the 1960s Dunlop Racing tyres. The seamless integration of the rubber strap and case was achieved in 2011.
Meanwhile, 1997 marked the deployment of the automatic movement in the Mille Miglia chronograph timepieces. The self-winding movement has been COSC-certified since 2000.
The Mille Miglia collection today has two lines: Classic and GT XL.
The Classic is inspired by the oldest cars in the Mille Miglia (between 1927 and 1940) while the GT XL, which is more technical and imposing, draws its codes from the most recent race cars (between 1940 and 1957).
The anodised black aluminium bezel was introduced in 2012. "Mushroom" push pieces were unveiled the following year, which also saw the red on the dial making a big comeback. Two other Mille Miglia models introduced this year are Mille Miglia 2017 Race Edition (S$9,610) and Mille Miglia Classic XL 90th Anniversary (S$55,930). Both are chronograph timepieces and limited editions - the Race Edition is limited to 1,000 pieces in stainless steel and 100 in steel and rose gold, and the Anniversary model is limited to 90 pieces in rose gold.
The two models are also powered by a COSC-certified movement, though the Race Edition is equipped with an automatic movement housed in a 44mm case. The Anniversary watch's movement is an in-house-made hand-wound flyback chronograph, the LUC Calibre 03-07-L housed in a 46mm case.
The Race Edition features traditionally-shaped pushers inspired by car engines. Its large fluted crown looks like a fuel tank cap. The bezel has an aluminium insert bearing the tachymetric scale and the dial is silver-toned with an engine-turned finish.
Chopard says the Anniversary model is the most exclusive of the Mille Miglia line. It's also the first Mille Miglia watch to be accorded the Poincon de Geneve standard, which is synonymous with "provenance, quality, craftsmanship and reliability". The pushers of the chronograph watch are piston-inspired and its dial resembles petrol tank caps.