February 11, 2023
by David Bredan
If I told you about a recently launched watch that measured 46mm-wide, 16mm-thick, had a duo of flying one-minute tourbillons exposed on its dial, and came in solid 18k gold, you’d probably guess it’s a watch by Jacob & Co. — and you’d be right. Behold, the Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti watch, the latest quarter-million-dollar timepiece that can actually hold a candle to the car company it’s co-branded with.
It was in 2019 that Jacob & Co. took over from Parmigiani Fleurier as the luxury watch partner of Bugatti, the Molsheim, France-based ultra-high-end carmaker that has also produced smart watches and other more affordable watches at the same time. Clearly intended for the Bugatti owner, these Jacob & Co. watches continue the legacy of extremely complicated and absolutely huge timepieces. Although the tide on the large watch trend has certainly shifted, these watches need to measure some 46mm-wide to be able to encapsulate the complex, massive movement.
With the Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti watch we are looking at the JCFM09 movement that measures as large as some luxury chronograph watches do — cased up, and ready to be worn. This hand-wound movement crams 470 components and 92 jewels into a space that is 41.55mm-wide and 8.92mm-thick. A lot of that is taken up by the twin flying one-minute tourbillons at 5 and 7 o’clock, with EB-shaped tourbillon cages where EB stands for Ettore Bugatti who founded his car manufacture in 1909. This particular model is named after his eldest son, Jean Bugatti, who took the company over from his father and went on to create masterpieces like the two-tone Type 50 series, the super-long Type 41 Royale, or the collectors’ sweetheart Type 57SC Atlantic. A similar takeover has been happening at the helm of Jacob & Co. where the founder Jacob Arabov’s son, Benjamin has stepped up as CEO.
Here’s how the Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti watch works. First, it tells the hours and minutes via two arrowheads apparently floating around the periphery of the dial. Second, it allows the wearer to use a rather uniquely laid-out chronograph via two center-mounted hands, the larger counting between 0 and 10 seconds, and the shorter the tens of seconds elapsed in the minute. Then, there is a “digital counter” as ultra-high-end watchmaking likes to call it; nothing about it is of course digital, it’s called as such because it uses two Arabic numerals that jump from one indication to the next, imitating the switch in a digital display. In total, the chronograph can measure up to 30 minutes, using a dedicated escapement situated on the caseback and running not on 3Hz as does the main movement, but on 5Hz, with its own two-hour power reserve.
The main dial is domed and adorned with applied frames around the second’s scales and the rounded apertures that reveal the two flying tourbillons. Interestingly, although Jacob & Co. has displayed its mastery of spectacular complications — just think of the epic Twin Turbo Furious — in this instance, the tourbillons are hidden rather deep within the movement and appear to be in a rather difficult position to catch enough light to make their mirror-polished cages shine. Still, the caseback view is spectacular, with countless cams, arms, and wheels, as well as black mirror-polished bridges spread out over a black chromium-finished and circular-grained mainplate.
The Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti watch is of course as heavy on the wrist as it is on the eyes — there’s no forgetting having this one on. The slim bezel and expansive dial add to the wrist presence, as does the embossed leather strap and its massive, solid gold folding clasp. The crown and classic pump-style pushers are certainly the most ordinary components of this watch, certainly going after a more vintage-inspired look to match the cream-white dial and old-school red Bugatti emblem.
A unique blend of high-end and highly specialized horological complications and a larger-than-life look and feel continues to define Jacob & Co’s Bugatti co-branded watches, and that remains the same with the Jean Bugatti watch. Extremely complicated on the inside, and massive, yet, in some ways, restrained on the outside, the Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti watch is priced at $250,000 and is limited to an ambitious 57 examples. You can learn more at the brand’s website.