hopard is one of a number of prestigious exhibitors at the Salon Rétromobile running through to February 4th at Porte de Versailles, France and a must-visit venue for classic car enthusiasts. The Maison enjoys a longstanding association with motorsports and is exhibiting a trio of exceptional cars gathered for the occasion by Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele – himself an amateur racer and keen automobile connoisseur. All three took part in the original 1000 Miglia race between 1927 and 1957.
Accompanied by Chopard’s two official ambassadors, legendary drivers Jacky Ickx and Romain Dumas, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele unveiled a new 100-piece special edition of the Mille Miglia collection at a cocktail party held at the Chopard pavilion. Alongside the showcase for this unique model, Chopard is exhibiting a prestigious retrospective of all the timepieces produced since 1988 as part of its partnership with the race: a delightful sight for all devotees of fine watchmaking and automobile mechanics!
Asked about Chopard’s participation in the show, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele commented: “The Salon Rétromobile gives us a perfect opportunity to present the world of our Mille Miglia collection to a French and international audience. A passion for fine automobile mechanics often goes hand-in-hand with an interest in watchmaking technology.”
Visitors to the Maison’s pavilion can admire a 1927 Bugatti Type 35C model with which driver René Lamy broke the Mont Ventoux ascent record in 1928; as well as a 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder Scaglietti, RHD that notably belonged to brilliant French driver and carmaker Louis Rosier. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele and Jacky Ickx have taken part in the 1000 Miglia ten times at the wheel of this magnificent machine since 1988 – the year Chopard became official timekeeper of the events re-enacting the historical race. The last exceptional car is a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ’Gullwing’ capable of 230 km/h top speeds and under nine-second accelerations from 0 to 100 km. This model holds the record for most participations in the 1000 Miglia, with 31 starts since it changed ownership in 1986. The Chopard pavilion also houses a version – on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart – of the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR with which Sir Stirling Moss won the 1955 edition.
Chopard thus revisits the ties between French drivers and the 1000 Miglia through an immersive journey. ‘The world’s most beautiful motor race’ is inextricably linked to France – and not just because the success of the first 24 Hours of Le Mans inspired the four founding members of the 1000 Miglia in Brescia. Over the 30 years of the original race’s existence, French-built cars took part in more editions and won more titles than those from any other country outside Italy. A record of which France can be proud, and one that deserved to be commemorated by the very special Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph French Limited Edition.
When questioned about the links between Chopard and automobiles, Jacky Ickx added: “In Africa they like to say: ’You tell the time, we have the time’. However, when it comes to cars and haute horlogerie, it’s a completely different story. In addition to a passion for beautiful automobiles, the strong link uniting Chopard with the automobile world in general and motor racing in particular is... timekeeping! It’s all about the importance of performing so as to set ’a good time’ by fine-tuning to the nearest millimetre, accuracy, meticulous care and attention to detail – because every thousandth of a second counts.”
The Salon Rétromobile also offers Chopard the opportunity to reinterpret its Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph model in an exclusive numbered 100-piece limited edition specially presented in the French national colours.
True to the aesthetics of the historic cars registered for the 1000 Miglia, the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Edition France timepiece has a case measuring 40.5 mm in diameter, an optimally ergonomic size when driving, while also remaining as attractive with evening wear as when worn over a racing suit.
Made from Lucent Steel™, the case features all the characteristics associated with Chopard’s exclusive alloy that took a full four years to develop. Named after its luminous, gently reflective appearance that gives it an almost incandescent shimmer, Lucent Steel™ is not only of surgical quality but is 50 % harder than conventional steel – making it uniquely capable of handling the knocks, bumps and scrapes of competitive driving. Responsibly produced with 80% recycled content, Lucent Steel™ is REACH-certified, as well as being naturally anti-allergenic, ensuring it is highly dermo-compatible and pleasant to wear.
The bezels, crowns and pushers are made in this same material with contrasting polished and satin-brushed finishes. Moreover, the pushers are knurled to create a motif recalling brake pedals, while the crown features more notches to enhance the grip. On either end of the case, the lugs are welded – a token of fine craftsmanship sure to be appreciated by devotees of meticulous watchmaking. Finally, the pin buckle picks up the play on polished/satin-brushed finishes featured on the case.
Preserving strong cues from the automotive world, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele personally devised the design of this model inspired by the colours of the French flag.
The midnight blue, white and red transfers on the circular satin-finished silver-toned dial serve twin aesthetic and technical purposes: as well as proudly symbolising the three national colours, they ensure that the indications are perfectly legible. The white minutes track and tachymeter scale – both essential for making speed and distance calculations – remain prominent within this meticulous layout, while the hour-markers as well as the hours and minutes hands are coated with Grade X1 Super-LumiNova® to ensure the high degree of legibility required for night-time driving.
The chronograph seconds hand is red for both practical and style-driven reasons, echoing the famous red 1000 Miglia logo applied to the dial.
A true exercise in ‘practical beauty’, the dial is protected by a deep, glass-box sapphire crystal secured by a slim bezel. Watch glasses of this type procure an obvious aesthetic advantage by giving the dial a sense of perspective. They serve to maximise the depth of the dial opening, as light pours in from above as well as from the sides, creating exquisite shimmering effects.
Finally, the timepiece is fitted with a perforated calfskin strap matching the blue hues of the dial and reminiscent of traditional driving gloves.
The sapphire crystal case-back is adorned with crossed flags: one a black and white chequered racing and the other in the French national colours. It affords a view of the self-winding chronograph movement certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute and endowed with a 54-hour power reserve.
A keen amateur driver himself, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele recognises the importance of being equipped with an accurate chronograph while taking part in events such as the 1000 Miglia, where a few fractions of a second can mean the difference between success or failure in a timed stage.
With the new Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph French Limited Edition, accurate adjustments are also guaranteed by slip-resistant knurled pushers which, as well as being convenient, also add to the watch’s undeniable allure.
This model is clearly intended for drivers seeking to surpass themselves – much in the spirit of the Maison’s legendary ambassador and longstanding friend, six-time Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx.