A decade ago, Italian sports car giant Bugatti partnered with a young luxury watchmaker, Parmigiani, to create a timepiece that would complement its technical prowess. After six years of research and development, the partnership produced one of the most avant-garde pieces in the haute horlogerie segment—the Bugatti Type 370, priced at around Rs.1.8 crore. The unique timepiece is distinguished by its curved lugs, tubular-shaped movement and a sleek case that replicates the high-end super car.
“Our pieces are hand-crafted and cost a lot to produce,” says Jean-Marc Jacot, CEO, Parmigiani. “That is why we are priced at what we are. Our aim is not to compete with brands that are producing 30,000 watches a year. We make about 6,000 watches and are aiming at a different clientele.” The Bugatti Type 370 set the ball rolling for Parmigiani in 2004. And, there has been a new watch in the Bugatti collection every year since.
The USP of the timepiece is its tubular-shaped movement, worn like an engine block on the wrist, with the time being displayed laterally. Inspired by automotive mechanics, it is assembled on a transverse axis rather than being placed on the flat surface of a single main plate.
The mechanisms—the gear train, power reserve and the double barrel—are arranged on five main plates that are lined in a cylindrical form. The regular crown-operated winding system was replaced with a pen-shaped tool that controls the functions by transmitting energy via the crystal caseback.
“Being innovative and unusual has helped us face competition from older and more established Swiss brands,” says Jean-Marc. “Also, we are honest in our communication and our customers have realised that over the years. They are assured of a quality product without compromising on style, aesthetics or accuracy.”
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Bugatti-Parmigiani partnership, three limited edition timepieces were released at the Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie 2015. “They are in gold, pink gold and white gold and contain a movement that we have never done before,” says Jean-Marc. “They are unique and we do not think there will be any difficulty striking the right note with potential buyers.”
To help drivers read the time better, Parmigiani has reworked the Bugatti 370 model and its tubular movement to develop the Bugatti Mythe, the Bugatti Révélation and the Bugatti Victoire, each model priced at Rs.3 crore approximately.
Each model highlights a particular characteristic of the automobile world. Mythe focuses on craftsmanship, Révélation celebrates the decade-long partnership and Victoire plays on the aspect of speed and power. The Mythe also has two distinct surfaces in anthracite grey and golden, with a grille structure that graced early Bugatti cars. The Art Deco influence is apparent.
The Révélation is the face of the partnership. With its honeycomb structure comprising tightly-packed diamonds, the watch's dial showcases a miniature car grille, executed by ultra-precise laser cutting. The leather strap has a diamond-like motif, resembling the tufting in the car's upholstery. Concentric 'V' motifs hand-engraved into the Victoire's case resemble tyre tracks. The Vs also suggest the concept of velocity and victory, synonymous with Bugatti cars.
Parmigiani calls the trio “cars reborn as watches”. Obviously!