By Rebecca Doulton
Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is co-president of Chopard - one of the few remaining family-run businesses - and is obviously passionate about mechanical watches. But he is also as passionate about larger engines in the form of vintage automobiles. In addition to his collection of golden oldies, Chopard sponsors classic car races, including the grande dame of Italian road races, the Mille Miglia, and last year Scheufele took turns at the wheel of his Porsche 550A Spyder RS with racing phenomenon Jacky Ickx.
Since its inception in 1927, the Mille Miglia, known as the Most Beautiful Race in the World, was originally an open-road endurance race from Brescia to Rome and back, fuelling the fantasy of car lovers and attracting the participation of racing heroes such as Tazio Nuvolari, and racing car constructors such as Enzo Ferrari.
In 1977, the Mille Miglia Storica changed format and is now a time-speed-distance race. The regulations are strict: only models that competed in one of the historical Mille Miglia speed races held between 1927 and 1957 can participate, and the race is limited to 375 vehicles. Spectators and car lovers from around the world are drawn to this unprecedented show of vintage cars in scenic settings dotted around Italy, which will be held this year from 14-17 May.
Chopard watches launched its very first Mille Miglia collection in 1988 to coincide with its role as official timekeeper, and this year presents three new sporty Mille Miglia GTS mechanical watches: a three-hand chronometer with date display; a chronograph; and a model equipped with a power reserve indicator. The big news this year is that the Chronometer and Power Control models are equipped with in-house engines made by Chopard's workshops at Fleurier Ebauches.
These luxury watches for men are clearly designed to fuel the fantasies of racing car fanatics with their black, red and white colour codes, which pay tribute to the aesthetics of vintage car dashboards.
The Chopard Mille Miglia Power Control watch features a recessed power reserve indicator between 8 and 10 o'clock, designed like a 1950s' petrol gauge with Full, Empty and ½ Full signs. The date window is framed by the red Mille Miglia arrow logo - the same arrow that is usually placed on the doors and bonnets of the competing cars with their respective numbers.
Both the Mille Miglia GTS Power Control and Automatic models have oversized numerals at 12 and 6 o'clock, painted with SuperLumiNova and a black aluminium insert on the bezel with the minutes track. The 43mm stainless steel or rose gold cases feature shortened tapered lugs that attach the rubber strap, complete with the tread you might find on Dunlop tyres of the 1960s.
Under the bonnets of the 43mm cases of the Power Control and Automatic Mille Miglia watches are the brand new engines, calibres 01.01-C and 01.08-C, designed, developed and assembled by Chopard at the Fleurier Ebauches manufacture. Automatic winding with a 60-hour power reserve, both calibres are certified by COSC as chronometers.
The Mille Miglia GTS Chrono comes in a larger 44mm case and displays the elapsed times of the chronograph in 30-minute and 12-hour counters on the dial. The aluminium bezel doubles up as a tachymetre to calculate speed, and the pushers on the chrono are styled like the vintage pushers of a pocket watch. Also available in a rose gold variant on a black rubber strap, this new Mille Miglia watch is also COSC-certified, water-resistant to 100 metres, and features an exhibition back like its racing partners to admire the engine.