Bamford takes Chopard’s Mille Miglia watch for a spin
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest Watches news every morning.
In the late 1980s, motoring nut Karl-Friedrich Scheufele set about persuading his father, owner of the watchmaker Chopard, that the company should become official timekeeper and sponsor of one of the world’s most historic sporting events – the Mille Miglia.
First run in 1927, it was a 1,000-mile endurance motor race from Brescia to Rome and back, winding through the Italian countryside. It’s said that the two Italian counts who founded it did so in a fit of pique that the Italian Grand Prix had been moved from Brescia to Monza. The race itself was fiercely contested – the 1955 version saw Stirling Moss pitted against Juan Manuel Fangio (Moss won) – and very dangerous. In 1957, Alfonso de Portago’s Ferrari 335S spun off the road at 150mph, killing nine spectators, and it was decided that the Mille Miglia should never be raced competitively again.
The Bamford-customised Chopard Mille Miglia chronograph, £7,020
But that’s not the end of the story. The event was reborn in 1977 as the Mille Miglia Storica, a gentle jaunt along the same route for pre-1957 classic and vintage cars. It has since become a magnet for some of the world’s most beautiful vehicles. Karl-Friedrich’s father was sold on this new iteration: since 1988, Chopard has been one of its major sponsors, and each year the house has launched limited-edition watches inspired by it.
This year sees the first collaboration between Karl-Friedrich, now co-president of Chopard, and George Bamford, another “car nut” whose customised takes on iconic timepieces first made him an outlaw in the watch world and then, with the blessing of Jean-Claude Biver, former president of LVMH’s watch division, its maverick darling. Bamford’s take on Chopard’s Mille Miglia chronograph (£7,020) adds an industrial edge to the watch’s sporty dolce vita glamour (there’s a limited edition of 33 pieces – one for each year Chopard has partnered the race). The case, bead-blasted using Bamford’s industrial Diamond Like Carbon technique, is dark grey and matte. The face is flecked with orange on the second and subdial hands (for easy reading), while the chronograph, as you’d expect, is the real racing thing. The watch’s chronometer beats at 28,800 vibrations an hour, each one of which its owner can watch through its sapphire caseback – assuming they’re not at the wheel.