If you have been following my blog, you will know that I have been on a quest to find my ultimate racing timepiece. One of my pals is a serious watch collector- I mean SERIOUS. His collection includes a couple of AP, Breguet, Rolex and more. He used to tell me that the only REAL racing timepiece was a Chopard Mille Miglia. For some reason, Chopard eluded me. I just never had an opportunity to try one or inspect one. I have seen a couple of Mille Miglia from afar, but I never shopped for one despite my pal’s advice.
That all changed recently.
Our good friend, Bobby, from our partner forum, CWC, acquired 5 brand new examples recently. As we were discussing some watch trades, I mentioned to Bobby that I was still looking for a classic racing piece (my Heuer 01 is not really classic). Bobby invited me to try out his Chopard and here are my impressions.
Chopard has a pretty serious pedigree when it comes to racing timepieces. There is the Mille Miglia, as my pal always said. This series of timepieces is named after the famous old Italian road race which was 1000 miles in length and still exists for vintage racing cars. But Chopard is also a partner of Porsche. This partnership has given birth to a series of magnificent timepieces. If you want to be a racing watch player, you can’t find a better partner than Porsche! Chopard also has a Superfast lineup which is another fine example of modern, racy timekeeping. As a manufacture, Chopard can hold its own. The company has beeing making their own in-house calibres for the past 20 years and these include a tourbillon. Most of the models seen here are using ETA, however. Let’s see how they fared on the wrist…
Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control (158566-3001)
This piece has a lot going on. Since we’re talking racing watches here, let’s start with the engine. This Chopard is powered by an in-house calibre complete with power reserve complication. Caliber 01.08-C has a 60-hour power reserve and is COSC-certified. This is some pretty high-end stuff right here. The Power Control is the only Chopard of the five that has an exhibition caseback and the movement is a beauty. Winding the crown is cool because you see the power reserve indicator move from “E” to “F” like a fuel tank. This model has the least attractive dial of the five examined here, but the finishing and quality are remarkable. The case is made of high-quality stainless steel and it sits fairly high end proud on the wrist. But the best part is the bracelet, which gives great bling on the wrist. A large 43mm watch on a steel bracelet would sound very heavy (just read my JeanRichard review). THIS watch is surprisingly light and comfortable. It feels amazing on the wrist. I would criticise the lack of a safety mechanism on the bracelet on such an expensive watch. But the feel and presence on the wrist are superb. Despite its sporty character, this Mille Miglia has a dressy feel and I would be wearing it with business suits and dress shirts. I should mention that the power reserve indicator is my favourite ever complication on a watch…
Chopard Grand Prix De Monaco Historique Automatic (158568-3001)
On paper, this is the most basic watch of the lot: no chronograph, no power reserve, and it uses an ETA movement, albeit a COSC-certified chronometer. However, this was my favourite Chopard on the wrist. I just love the style of the dial.
The Grand Prix de Monaco Historique is a race for vintage F1 cars held on the Friday of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend each year. In case you ever wondered, this is why Monaco is the only Grand Prix in the world to run free practice on Thursday rather than Friday. And they do this to accommodate the famous Grand Prix Historique on Friday. You will notice on the photos that the date on this piece was set to 27, which was the number of Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari. Jean Alesi won the 1995 Grand Prix du Canada for Ferrari in car number 27 as well. So I thought the date showing 27 was very appropriate.
Look at the concentric circles on the dial — gorgeous. I’m afraid that the photos don’t do this piece any justice at all. This one is made of high-grade titanium, which is very appropriate for a racing-themed piece. The titanium case and bracelet are gorgeous and really “pop” on the wrist. It’s super light and would be über comfortable as a daily wearer. The watch sits pretty high but fit under my shirt cuffs with no problem. Of all the Chopard, this was my favourite. It is a simple design executed really well as you can see on the applied indices and finishing on the crown. The lack of a complex, in-house movement is somewhat offset by the beautiful titanium material and I loved the feel of this model on my wrist. This could easily be my “everyday office piece.”
Chopard Grand Prix De Monaco Historique Chronograph (168570-9001)
When I unboxed this one, I was like, “Oh f___!” Of all the pieces here, this is your f___ off piece. The case is titanium and you can see the gold trim on the photos. It’s got that classic chrono racing dial and the overall effect is quite something. I probably prefer the power reserve function, but nothing says racing like a chronograph- even a non-in-house chrono. Check out how the gold crown has a steering wheel logo and the gold pushers are shaped like pistons.
Now the dial is a pretty classic layout — the date window is cleverly placed so that it does not interfere at all with the look. There is a lot of contrast between the white, gold and black and the effect is pretty impressive on the wrist. This watch is a real showstopper.
The pushers are really stiff and require a lot of effort to depress. The action is crisp and precise, but you need to push hard. Once again, the titanium case is light. The strap looks black on the photos, but it is really more of a dark chocolate brown which is just gorgeous with gold. It uses a deployment buckle made of titanium. I prefer the bracelets, but the look of the rally strap is real vintage racing. The strap is quite narrow, making the case appear even larger and more impressive.
This is your statement piece, boys. This piece says, “I am sophisticated. I love mechanical things. I have a gold and titanium chronograph, therefore I am the boss.” I would absolutely love to wear this Chopard to the office. Just look at the photos- this is one cool racing timepiece with gold bling. Wicked.
Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Power Control (168569-9001)
This watch presents a dilemma — does your racing piece need a chronograph or a power reserve? That’s a tough question. The chrono is more “classic racing” whereas the power reserve is more “high end” in my view. Chopard did a real number with this 168569-9001…it has a racing-inspired style, a titanium case, gold trim, a rally bracelet with titanium and a POWER RESERVE. Look at my closeup photos — the detail and beauty of this watch are remarkable. Look at the gold crown with the steering wheel logo. This one is not quite as eye-popping as the chrono, but I think it’s a magnificent statement piece.
On the wrist, the watch feels light… very light. To wind the movement and see the fuel gauge move, you need to unscrew the crown. The crown screws and winds with a superb, solid feel, adding to the overall experience. The strap is cool and racy and sporty and its deployment buckle (in titanium) means business. As with the chrono, the colour combo really stands out. The watch looked amazing on my wrist and I can see myself wearing this to power meetings (pun intended), cocktails and galas.
Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Power Control (168569-3001)
The least expensive of the five Chopard is the raciest. Rather than gold trim, this particular model has yellow accents and yellow contrast stitching on the rally strap. This is real racing style, my friends. The 44.5mm case is made from high-grade titanium. The watch is powered by an automatic COSC-certified movement with 46 hours of power reserve. Once again, the power reserve indicator is a huge plus in my books. When you show up to a party wearing this Chopard, and all of your pals are wearing Omega Speedmasters and Rolex Subs, YOU are the only man with a power reserve function! Advantage, Chopard. On the wrist, this Chopard FEELS like a sports racing watch. It sits wide and tall but it is super light with that high-grade titanium. The rally strap, with its cutouts, is extra light and it fastens with a titanium deployment buckle. The whole package feels amazing. I must admit that I prefer the titanium bracelet, but this model is the one to have for the ultimate racing style. The style is fairly simple, but the detail and finishing make it great — look at the circles on the dial and that giant, applied number 12. With a power reserve thrown into the equation, you know this is a special timepiece.
This was quite a fun review. I got to sample about $50,000 of fine Swiss racing timepieces. That makes for a good day! I was impressed by these Chopard during my first encounter with the brand. My favourite was the model on titanium and steel bracelet (158568-3001). It doesn’t have the mechanical tricks, but its wrist presence and stunning bracelet make it the most usable Chopard here. The two models with gold would be awesome statement pieces. The Mille Miglia has the top movement, while the last model wins the “racing vibe” trophy.
Do you have a racing timepiece in your watch box? Or a Chopard? Or a power reserve? Maybe it’s time to try one out.
As always, the fun is in the search…