Chopard proudly returned to Brescia for the 36th time in succession as the World Sponsor and Official Timekeeper of the 1000 Miglia – otherwise known as ‘the most beautiful race in the world’. The partnership represents one of the longest in history between a watchmaker and an automobile event, signifying Chopard’s well known love of classic cars and its passion for motorsport. That passion was further confirmed by the fact that 2023 marks the 35th occasion that Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele competed in the race from Brescia to Rome and back, having first taken part in 1989 with six-times Le Mans 24 Hours winner Jacky Ickx in the navigator’s seat. The pair teamed-up again this year (as on more than a dozen previous occasions), once more tackling the gruelling course in the instantly recognisable ‘metallic raspberry’ Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing in which they made their 1000 Miglia debut. And, of course, Chopard continued its tradition of introducing new Mille Miglia timepieces, with four Mille Miglia Classic Chronographs, plus an additional, very special ‘Italian Limited Edition’ of the Mille Miglia GTS Chronograph – some of the proceeds from which are being donated to victims of the recent Emilia-Romagna flood disaster. The event was won by reigning champions, Andrea Vesco and Fabio Salvinelli.
A new route, a new city – and an extra day
The 1000 Miglia was first run in 1927 but – in keeping with its reputation for never growing old – this year’s event featured a new route and was run over the course of five days rather than the usual four. For the first time, the race incorporated a section from Parma to Milan, a city never before included in the 1000 Miglia, and the location from which the 443 starters made their home run to Brescia on the final day (Saturday, June 17th).
In between, the course took them in a clockwise direction, with day one ending in an overnight stop on the coast at Cervio-Milano Marittima. An early start on Wednesday sent the group to the tiny, hilltop republic of San Marino (the fifth smallest country in the world) and up to 300 metres above sea level for a lunch break in Macerata, a town renowned for its striking palazzos and annual opera festival. The day finished in Rome with the cars paraded around the city, followed by a dawn start on Thursday for the six-hour run to lunch in Siena (scene of the historic Palio horse race).
After tackling the famous Abertone Pass – frequently used by Ferrari’s test drivers – the crews ended up in Parma where they spent the night before heading out on Friday morning to begin the ‘home run,’ stopping at Piacenza military airport to mark the centenary of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana. After lunch in Alessandria and a further five hours on the road, the competitors checked-in at the new Milan time control point before dinner and a well-earned night’s rest.
A civilised 8 am start on Saturday marked the beginning of the final 100 kilometres of the course, which took the surviving cars back to the finish at Brescia where they were shown-off along the tree-lined Viale Venezia.
Having overcome a few hiccups in the first afternoon of the race, the event was won by reigning champions, Andrea Vesco and Fabio Salvinelli in an F8 Spider, the fourth consecutive title (out of six in total) for Vesco, and a historic record, and the third for Fabio Salvinelli.
The Team Chopard
In addition to the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing crewed by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele and Jacky Ickx, Chopard Ambassadors Zhu Yilong, the acclaimed Chinese actor, and Romain Dumas, the celebrated endurance racing driver, also competed under the ‘Team Chopard’ banner in a 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster.
The 2023 Mille Miglia watches – the tradition continues
Comprising four new models crafted in Chopard’s exclusive Lucent Steel™ (50 percent more resilient than regular steel and incorporating material recycled from the medical, aerospace, car and watch industries), the 40 mm chronographs are fitted either with the Maison’s signature rubber strap based on the pattern of a ‘60s Dunlop race tyre or a rich brown calfskin leather strap evoking traditional driving gloves.
What makes this year’s Mille Miglia Classic Chronographs extra-special, however, are their dials: each of the four variations is based on the paint hues and interior finishes typically found on the type of pre-1957 cars eligible for the 1000 Miglia. This means a choice of Rosso Amarena (cherry red), Grigio-Blu (grey blue), Verde Chiaro (light green) and Nero Corsa (racing black). In keeping with a 36-year tradition, each watch carries a miniature ‘1000 Miglia’ route marker on its dial and case back.
In addition to the Mille Miglia Classic Chronographs, Chopard has also produced a very special version of its larger Mille Miglia GTS Chrono. Being made from Lucent Steel™ in just 100 examples, part of the proceeds from each sale are being donated to victims of the devastating floods that swept through the Emilia-Romagna region in early May. This 44 mm edition carries the green and red colours of Italy, with its olive green bezel featuring a tachymeter scale for speed and distance calculations. Further marking-out the ‘form and function’ nature of Chopard’s Mille Miglia watches, the Mille Miglia GTS Chrono Limited Edition Italy is also fitted with substantial ‘mushroom’ pushers and a large diameter crown to provide a firm grip and ease of use while on the road.
Both the Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph editions and the Mille Miglia GTS Chrono Limited Edition Italy are the perfect watches for anyone taking part in ‘the most beautiful race in the world’ as well as for those who follow it.