CHOPARD MILLE MIGLIA GT XL POWER CONTROL
The Mille Miglia was a car race. Nothing outstanding about that you may think but in Italian Mille translates as Thousand and Miglia translate as Miles. This historic thousand miles open road race originally ran just 24 times between 1927 to 1957. It started from Brescia, in the far north of Italy, and attracted the best drivers and most exotic Gran Turismo (Grand Touring) cars of the era, from the likes of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, and Porsche.
The course followed a figure of eight that started at the Brescia above and went south as far as Rome.
Famous names that competed in the Mille Miglia included Tazio Nuvolari, Sterling Moss, Clement Bondietti, Albert Ascari and Juan Manual Fangio.
In 1977 the name was revived as the Mille Miglia Storica. Storica being Italian for historical. As of 1982, the Mille Miglia endurance race was reconceived as a road rally event. Nowadays, on the Mille Miglia Storica timing, rather than speed, is the most critical skill for the enthusiastic participants from around the world who negotiate the demanding 1000 mile course in their vintage cars, which have to date from 1927 to 1957. Sadly, the race canceled after two fatal crashes. Both crashes happened in 1957. The first took the life of Spanish driver Alfonso de Portago and his Co-Driver Edmund Nelson plus nine spectators, including five children. The second crash took the life of driver Joseph Gottgens.
This annual collection and meeting of classic vehicles have earned the Mille Miglia the reputation of being “The most beautiful road race in the world.” The route is slightly different from the original, shown above, but still maintains the spirit while conveying the difficulties imposed on the original contestants who were encouraged to drive these roads as fast as they could for nearly 20 hours.
So, why did Chopard decide to commemorate this small but passionately followed race with a collection of high-end wrist watches? Firstly, we would only need to look into the Co-President of Chopard, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s, huge garage which is full of beautifully maintained vehicles of this type and era.
Secondly, Chopard, through Karl-Friedrich’s passion for the event, has been the primary sponsor and official timekeeper since 1988. Since then Chopard has released a new Mille Miglia model every year. Here is the Chopard Co-President in his vintage Ferrari during one of the Mille Miglia events:
Be assured that Chopard’s involvement with the Mille Miglia race is no misplaced publicity stunt that has no relation to the brand and the product, which is so often the case these days.
These timepieces are a result of the Co-President’s knowledge and understanding, through the first-hand experience, of the demands and trials of the event that have culminated in a collection of robust, reliable, legible and utilitarian tool watches each of which could use in the demanding environment of the race itself.
In fact, Karl-Freidrich personally wears a different Mille Miglia model each year when he takes part in the Mille Miglia Storica in one of his collection of vintage GT cars. It is a reflection of the trust, and confidence Chopard have in their timepieces as this watch exposed to dust, temperature, rain and, most significantly, hour upon hour of shocks and vibrations, as witnessed by anyone who has driven a vintage GT car on well-used tracks and pot hole riddled roads.
Karl-Friedrich passion for the automobiles and his historical awareness of the original grueling race that demanded the ultimate stamina and precision from the drivers and the best reliability and build quality from the vehicles taking part has transpired into a collection of watches that epitomizes each of these necessities.
The collection of Chopard Mille Miglia models incorporate classically and sporty styled chronograph, split. Second, GMT and date models offered in stainless steel, titanium or gold, many of which are limited editions. These range from 39.2mm diameter up to 44mm for the Gran Turismo XL models, including the GT Power Control featured here.
All of the models are Chronometer Certified by the COSC and come with sapphire glass exhibition case backs. The movement for the GT XL Power Control based on a highly reworked ETA ebauche. It is self-winding, with a power reserve of approximately 46 hours, 24 jewels and runs at a frequency of 4Hz (28,800 vph).
The GT XL range was initially released in 2006 and was the first model to incorporate the historical Dunlop tire pattern on the rubber strap. Which, by the way, also has an alluring vanilla scent. Mmmmm, vanilla. The buckle is also solid looking and incorporates a double folding clasp, which further aids to the comfort of this oversized watch.
As with all Chopard watches the GT XL Power Control is meticulously detailed and finished to a very high quality. The dial is perfectly legible. It is due to the maximum size of the dial that is afforded by a 44mm diameter watch. There is only a tiny percentage of the overall diameter taken up with the polished bezel.
It is rare in a sports watch of this size and results in 39mm of the simple dial. There is a lot of information projected from the dial, but all the individual components given their space. The contrast between the matte black dial and the red accents lend a sporty aesthetic while the applied numerals and markers provide a classy feel. All in all the GT XL has one of the most beautiful, most legible, dials of a sports-oriented luxury watch available.
The 44mm diameter and 17mm high case are water resistant to a very useful 100m. Despite this oversized girth and depth, the GT XL is very comfortable to wear. It is mainly facilitated by the flexible rubber tire patterned strap. Did I mention it smells gloriously of vanilla? I like the smell of vanilla.
The bold font of the number 12 is carried through to the numbers on the chapter ring, which are complemented by red minute markers.
The luminosity is perfectly perfunctory, having a high level of brightness and lasting throughout the night.
The hour, minute and seconds hands are all bold by design and offer excellent legibility in all lighting conditions. The latter pair coated with liberal applications of the luminescent material.
The second’s hand incorporates a red-tipped hand which is a reflection of the two design aspirations of sportiness and ease of use.
The theme of legibility is carried through to the date display at 3 O’clock which is magnified by a convex lens that is within to the sapphire glass. It means that the sapphire glass remains flush and the date window is automatically double UV coated with the rest of the sapphire glass.
The crown protected by sturdy looking and highly polished guards and stamped with the official ‘1000 Miglia’ logo. The use of the number 1000 instead of the word “Mille” is a smart touch in my opinion. It highlights further one of the main reasons that the Mille Miglia race is considered the ultimate test bench for the machines that are expertly piloted by the heroic drivers.
The complication that sets this model apart from the rest of the range is the Power Reserve indicator. Poetically called the Power Control in this instance. It is a handy feature to have if you have a collection of timepieces. I am guessing that this will be a reflection of the demographic who will own this timepiece because Chopard is one of the best-kept secrets in horology and is probably only recognizable as respected high-end manufacture by watch collectors.
This function allows the user to see how much winding remains, as a percentage, of the main-spring. It will, of course, continue to run itself down if the watch not worn and, therefore, the rotor is not allowed to wind the main-spring. The power reserve indicator on the GT XL Power Control is unique in that it is a distinct nod towards the fuel gauge displays of the vintage cars that compete in the Mille Miglia.
If you are not a collector, however, and do have desires towards a GT XL model as your only high-end timepiece, I would recommend the standard model without the power reserve indicator which is about 20% less and offers a more symmetrical dial with the large applied 6 complementing the applied 12. Alternatively, for a similar price, the Limited Edition Titanium model is a little more exotic and comes with a stunningly designed ribbed dial.
The Mille Miglia GT XL Power Control is a beautiful and sturdy timepiece that fulfills all of its design aspirations. It most certainly does not need the Mille Miglia connection to make it desirable. However, I believe that this association does add to the watch as a luxury product. The romantic in me likes the idea of man and machine being pushed to their limits, as is the case with the Mille Miglia and the competing drivers and cars.
The Chopard Mille Miglia timepieces have designed with this in mind. Many watch brands have sponsorship deals for events and famous personalities in this vein. However, the Mille Miglia is significantly different in that it has proven itself to be reliable and ideally suited to the very same extreme conditions of the classic event from which it borrows its name. Trying to amalgamate up to date materials and designs with elements that are inspired by vintage cars could have created a slightly messy overall appearance.
I think that this has been avoided with the GT XL Power Control because each element is distinctive and there is a harmony created throughout by applying the same high level of detail and finish. You are at once left with feelings of reliability and trust given by a modern-day high-end wrist watch, and also feels heartwarming nostalgia through the addition of perfectly conceived design cues.