The annual California Mille classic car rally ran in late April with Chopard again (for the fifth time) as the rally’s Official Timer. In addition to its timing duties, the Swiss watchmaker has launched a commemorative watch to mark the 2023 event: The Mille Miglia GTS Automatic Chrono California Mille 32nd Edition, a 44mm Lucent Steel certified chronometer dressed in grey with Hagerty Motorsports black and blue racing stripes.
As is typical of Chopard’s always notable racing-themed chronographs, the dial on this latest example is meant to recall the dashboard of a classic car. Thus, you’ll see the bright red accents on the California Mille logo and the tip of central sweep-seconds hand contrasting nicely with the grey dial and the racing stripes.
Additional racing themed designs are seen around the dial, with the watch’s thin black bezel displaying a tachymeter scale with contrasting white graduations that can be used to measure average speed ranging from 60 to 400 km/h by means of the chronograph seconds hand.
Inside, Chopard provides an COSC-certified ETA Valjoux-based automatic caliber with a 48-hour power reserve. Sturdy mushroom-type pushers are knurled on top to assist with a grip while in use. Likewise, Chopard adds a large crown with a ratcheted edge to ensure a good grip.
Finally, the Mille Miglia GTS Automatic Chrono California Mille 32nd Edition timepiece is fitted with a black calfskin strap lined with rubber. In keeping with the codes established at the birth of the Mille Miglia collection, the lining is patterned like the tread of 1960s Dunlop Racing tires.
Chopard offers its Mille Miglia GTS Automatic Chrono California Mille 32nd Edition as a limited edition of thirty pieces.
Among its 2023 Watches and Wonders Debuts, Chopard adds an ultra-thin small-seconds model to its high-flying Alpine Eagle collection.
The new watch, the Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS, comes a year after Chopard debuted a small-seconds display within the Alpine Eagle Flying Tourbillon. The new watch expands an already impressive list of Alpine Eagle variations, including models with a flyback chronograph movement, a high-frequency caliber and the recent flying tourbillon.
This series places Chopard’s superior L.U.C 96.40-L movement in a 41mm by 8mm steel case, topping it with what Chopard calls its “Monte Rosa Pink” dial.
Chopard explains that the new dial color is inspired by natural Alpine colors and is named to evoke the pinkish shimmer after which the second highest mountain range in the Alps is named.
The Chopard L.U.C caliber inside the new watch, like so many of Chopard’s excellent in-house movements, offers a much-welcomed long power reserve of sixty-five hours thanks to its two stacked barrels based on Chopard Twin technology.
Chopard also equips the movement with a stop-seconds function that is backed up with a chronometer certification by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute. (Note the “Chronometer” inscription on the dial below the logo.) In addition to its chronometer certification, the watch is finished to Geneva Seal haute horlogerie standards.
Chopard makes all its steel Alpine Eagle models with its own Lucent Steel A223, a particularly shiny and element-resistant alloy. Other characteristics of the collection include: a round case with stylized flanks, a crown engraved with a compass rose, a bezel with eight functional screws set at a tangent, a stamped colorful ‘eagle’s iris’ dial, luminescent indications and a metal bracelet. Price: $22,500.
Also New in 2023
During Watches and Wonders 2023 Chopard also debuted a new 25mm Happy Sport collection the debuts in four variations featuring a choice of materials, straps – including a new double tour option – and diamond settings. Prices start at $4,450.
In addition, look for Imperiale, a rose-gold-cased 25-piece limited edition in ethical 18-karat rose gold models with a lotus flower motif.
The flowers bloom against the sky backdrop that appears to change thanks to a rotating day-night mechanism. Price: $90,700.
As a partner and official timekeeper to the Mille Miglia classic car race since 1988, Chopard annually issues a new limited series chronograph inspired by the 1,000-mile tour through Italy (which just completed its fortieth run from Brescia to Rome and back).
For 2022 Chopard launches two models. One is a steel-cased version made as a 1,000-piece limited edition, while the second is a 250-piece limited edition that features a rose gold crown, pushers and bezel.
This year’s edition features a silver-grey dial with handsome light blue hands, hour-markers and bezel inlay (with tachymeter scale). Notable this year, in addition to the color scheme, is the larger date display and a distinctive use of differing of dial finishes to separate the chronograph functions from the day-to-day timekeeping display.
Chopard finishes the chronograph counters (at 6 and 12 o’clock) with a peripheral snailed pattern, which differs from the small seconds at 9 o’clock. These displays also feature red-tipped hands that echo one of the official Mille Miglia colors. The timekeeping hands are quite visible with their broad size, blue rim and a generous helping of luminous material.
Inside both models Chopard fits a COSC-chronometer-certified ETA-based automatic movement. To better utilize this precision instrument during any competition, Chopard also fits solid mushroom-type pushers with a broad surface engraved with a knurled pattern for a sure grip. In the same vein, Chopard’s large and ratcheted crown also ensures easy use.
Chopard fits the new Mille Miglia 2022 Race Edition timepiece with a terrific-looking brown perforated calfskin strap lined with rubber. As usual, Chopard patterns this rubber to echo the tread of 1960s Dunlop Racing tires. Prices: $11,400 (with Ethical rose gold) and $7,770 (steel).
I think it was just after the 2008 crash that the calls started coming in.
Complete strangers were calling our offices and inquiring about watches as potential instruments for investment. From their perspective it seemed to make sense. Fine timepieces have perpetual and intrinsic value, are liquid and easy to convert to cash and small enough to secret away in a bank deposit box or home safe. Some will even appreciate over time.
To these speculators and investors, the watch was simply a widget and could be anything (think NFTs), a device in which to insert capital and to be added to the other elements of a portfolio.
This cold, calculating valuation of wristwatches has gained momentum over the last decade-plus and is fueling rampant and runaway pricing on several preferred models. Some of which have seen values soar to ten, fifteen or even twenty times the original retail price.
This explosive surge has been brought on by a kind of perfect storm. First-off it could not happen without the internet. In the pre-internet era values would still climb on preferred pieces, but the forces pushing the growth were operating at a statelier pace. Watches would see price growth at auction, or via secondary sales at retail shops. The growth was not as immediately visible and volatile as the current state of viral information pathways.
Another factor is the fear of missing out. Buyers (note I did not say collectors) want to hop on board before the train leaves the station and are fueling the fires of desire and driving costs through the roof.
Forgive me if I feel that buying a watch purely as an investment is a sterile event without any real enthusiasm for the product, or any chance that the “investment” watches will ever see the light of day. Chances are the commoditized timepieces will sit in the dark until the next transaction, never to be enjoyed, shared, or shown-off except to confirm authenticity.
I’m a watch guy and have been for a long time. I appreciate the look, feel, sounds, and even smells (that vanilla scent on a nice rubber strap) that evoke pride of ownership and real enjoyment. Whether an affordable field watch with great lume, or a repeater softly chiming the time, watches are meant to be worn just like cars are meant to be driven.
I have a friend that has had amazing financial success in life. He recently invited me to his home and knowing I’m a car enthusiast was happy to show me some of the exceptional cars he had acquired over the years. One of which was the famous 1955 Jaguar D-Type. Designed for racing at LeMans and other venues, the D Type also happens to be street legal.
So as my friend sees me gaping at his exquisite machine, he tells me to look under the wheel well. I bend over, careful not to touch the coachworks, and look underneath. What I see is a spattering of mud on the wheel well liner. Not only does he drive this seven-million-dollar car, he drives it around town and even drives it to the track on vintage race days!
With a gold 40mm case, a forest green guilloché gold dial and a hinged officer-type back cover, the new L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer, which bears the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark, is both distinctive and elegant.
Much of its distinction lies within its gold case. Inside Chopard has placed its celebrated ultra-thin (3.30mm) L.U.C 96.01-L movement, which is the first Chopard Manufacture caliber from 1997.
Built with Chopard Twin technology and a 22-karat gold micro-rotor, the movement supplies two stacked barrels that guarantee a 65-hour power reserve and confer chronometer-certified precision. All L.U.C models with a small seconds display are certified by the Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).
As noted, the watch’s forest green dial is built on a solid gold base. In the center you’ll find a hand-guilloché honeycomb motif that also adorns the back cover. Until the 1920s, Chopard engraved all its watch movements and covers with this beehive and bees to symbolize industry.
The bees appear in random manner, which means each watch engraving is slightly different from another. Chopard reprised the bee symbol at the advent of the L.U.C collection in 1996.