Italian racing driver Luigi "Gigi" Villoresi scored an important victory for fledgling marque Ferrari when he won the legendary Mille Miglia in April 1951 at the wheel of a Ferrari 340 America Berlinetta Vignale. The fourth in a stunning series of six straight Mille Miglia wins for Enzo Ferrari’s wickedly fast machines from 1948–1953, it helped cement his place in the history of motorsports.
To congratulate Villoresi on his historic win, Ferrari presented him with this gorgeous specially made 18K gold Breitling Mille Miglia chronograph engraved with his name on the back. The watch is being auctioned off at Antiquorum’s Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces sale in New York on Dec. 15, with a modest pre-sale estimate of $10,000–$15,000. It is said that Villoresi had to convince Enzo, who thought that open cars were the key to winning the Mille Miglia, to let him compete in a closed coupe.
The victory in ’51 was far from Villoresi’s only triumph. Having started out racing Lancias and Fiats at the age of twenty-two he was later hired by Maserati, and won the 1939 South African Grand Prix in a Maserati 4CL before defecting to Ferrari, for whom he also raced Formula 1 cars. In 1954 he joined the Lancia team and won the prestigious Acropolis Rally in Greece with a Lancia Aurelia GT in 1958. His watch is a true piece of both horological and automotive history. Good luck bidding.