Hands on review with the Chopard Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition
Many of us don't want to think about the year 2020, but at least Chopard is giving me the opportunity to do so in a positive way with the Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition Chronograph. While my tastes run much more towards the manufacture's LUC collection, I've always enjoyed the casual chic style of the watches from the partnership with the very famous Italian motor race. I think there is a real know-how on Chopard's part that is largely due to Karl-Friedrich Scheufele's passion for motorsports and classic vehicles. Of course, these watches are not necessarily the most original nor the most ambitious from a technical point of view (even if we sometimes discover surprising pieces like the Mille Miglia Lab Concept Watch). They are nonetheless attractive and above all they embody an important dimension for Chopard. In fact, the brand has extended its involvement in this automotive universe to build an entire section of its catalog around this theme. This is the raison d'être of the Classic Racing collection. Through this name, Chopard wants to create an image that goes beyond the Mille Miglia in the strict sense of the word and appeal to classic car enthusiasts in the broadest sense, whether or not they take part in the famous race.
Due to the health context, the 2020 edition of the Mille Miglia took place at the end of October instead of the usual month of May. As a result, the traditional "Race Edition" watch that Chopard makes every year was presented in a different way. Even if it was present in stores from spring, it was only in autumn that it was officially unveiled. I wanted to revisit this watch because it addresses an aesthetic theme, that of "full black" which is used for the first time since 1988, when Chopard began its involvement with the italian event.
Such a theme is in contrast to the atmosphere of the series of watches that celebrated the 30th anniversary of the partnership. Remember, Chopard had presented in 2018 5 watches named "Racing Colours" with dials using the colors of the national teams: blue for France, yellow for Belgium, red for Italy, green for England and gray for Germany. These colored watches, edited in a limited series of 300 pieces each, were based on the 42mm version of the Mille Miglia chronograph, which is powered by an ETA2894 movement. I really like these watches, especially the ones with bright colors like yellow or red, because these dynamic dials fit well with the automotive theme. This same year, the "Race Edition" watch embodied another style, more sober in its colors but just as coherent with the world of racing with a dial decoration inspired by dashboards.
These different examples prove the capacity of adaptation and transformation of this 42mm chronograph. For me, its design is successful because it is classic without being old-fashioned and its reminders to the world of motor racing are discreet and well brought. In other words, the watch is not surprising but it is subtle and carefully crafted, striking a good balance between elegance and sportiness. The shape of the pushers, the notched crown, the inscriptions in the sub-dials, the peripheral tachymeter scale, the perforated black leather strap, all these small details contribute to build this atmosphere. I also like the fact that the race logo remains small. It brings a touch of color without distorting the dial. On the other hand, I am, as often, less attracted by the date window, stuck between 4 and 5 o'clock. I would prefer the watch not to have one, the dial being sufficiently busy.
The interest of the Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition chronograph lies in its "Full Black" (but not "Phantom"!) rendering. In fact, there are, as usual each year, two versions. One completely black in a limited edition of 1,000 pieces, the other with a bezel in sandblasted pink gold in a limited edition of 250 pieces. In both cases, the combination of the different types of finish and the rendering of the DLC bead-blasted steel case give this chronograph a much more contemporary look than other Mille Miglia chronographs. The other consequence is that the perceived size on the wrist is reduced. Chopard has achieved a convincing result because, if I put aside the version with the necessarily flashier bezel in sandblasted rose gold, the chronograph at no point gives the impression of being monochrome or uniform. The finishes complement each other and make for a harmonious result. The contrast between the black matte varnished dial and the treatment of the case is for example very pleasant to observe. In addition, the "vintage yellow" color markings fit harmoniously into this very dark context. The luminescent numbers and hands stand out clearly without clashing with the other elements.
The case back uses a transparent colored glass that allows to appreciate the automatic movement that animates the watch. As mentioned earlier, it is an ETA2894 caliber, or an ETA2892 caliber that powers a specific chronograph module. The view that is obtained is similar to that of an ETA2892 and I think that Chopard should rather put a solid back with a nice commemorative engraving. Certainly, from a commercial point of view, it is more relevant to make the movement visible. But I think a decorated solid back would be more appropriate. In terms of performance, the ETA2894 caliber has a power reserve of 42 hours for a frequency of 4hz. This reserve is rather low by today's standards, especially when compared to the movements developed by Chopard. The good news is that the caliber is certified chronometer, Chopard using the best grade to equip these Mille Miglia chronographs.
The Mille Miglia 2020 Race Edition chronograph does not revolutionize the offer of Chopard's Classic Racing collection. However, thanks to a judicious choice of colors and finishes, it allows the exploration of a different, more modern style, which confirms the timeless dimension of the basic watch. Even if its mechanical interest is limited, this piece is very pleasant to wear thanks to its rubber-lined leather strap and its case that offers balanced proportions (the thickness is 12.67mm for a diameter of 42mm). The selling price is 6,670 euros including VAT which is high for a steel chronograph with this movement. However, the general quality of the execution and the finishing explain this price positioning. In any case, I find it interesting that Chopard has explored this aesthetic path. But personally, I prefer the bright dials of the Racing Colours line... In these difficult times, I feel like bright, offbeat colors better symbolize the optimism we all need! Finally, it reinforces the relevance of this release. With this new Race Edition, Chopard offers something for every taste and mood!
+ the quality of the finishes
+ a timeless design
+ the comfort on the wrist
+ the chronometer certification
- a power reserve that is a little short by today's standards
- the presence of the date window
- a solid back would have been more relevant to me