March 9, 2016
by David Bredan
Back in 2004, Parmigiani secured a partnership with one of the world’s absolute best and most coveted car manufacturers, Bugatti. During these last 12 years, they have worked together on releasing a number of limited edition timepieces, from ones linked to the original Type 370 watch, all the way to the stunning Bugatti Super Sport watch that I went hands-on with here.
Now, over 10 years after the debut of the Veyron, the world’s fastest production car whose ultimate version reached 268 miles an hour (431 km/h), the Volkswagen Group-owned Bugatti has released a completely new car, the Chiron – and at this point, it should be no surprise that there is a Parmigiani watch to go with that debut. Enter the Parmigiani PF Bugatti 390 Concept, debuted at the Geneva Motor Show – in tandem with the Bugatti Chiron.
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The very first image of the @parmigianifleurier PF-Bugatti Type 390 Concept #Watch ! This first #concept ist the first step to celebrate the all new #supercar @bugatti #Chiron. So we would call it the Chiron-Watch! Besides the incredible tubular movement with a flying #tourbillon is a #watchmaking piece of art! A watch perfect in every detail! On the visible barrels one find the name Chiron and the nickname of Louis Chiron the famous Bugatti racing driver engraved. Photo by @dominicfraser73
While, funnily enough, Parmigiani makes no mention of the exact dimensions of the 390 Concept watch, this wristshot from our friend Philip from classicdriver.com, shows that this new piece is certainly going to be on the relatively more wearable side of things – although it sits rather high, just like all previous high-complication Parmigiani Bugatti watches have.
There are some key design elements that are decidedly similar between the Parmigiani PF Bugatti 390 Concept and the new Bugatti Chiron. Immediately apparent is this blend of curves and sharp angles. The watch’s top-rear portion is shaped like a tube, of sorts, as it contains the movement’s barrels, parts of its going train, and at the leftmost side of it, a one-minute flying tourbillon.
The barrels of the watch have been engraved with the name of Louis Chiron, Bugatti’s racing driver and the namesake of the new car. Parmigiani uses a very different kind of gear train to transmit power from the mainsprings to the tourbillon. Omitting a flat configuration of consecutive wheels and pinions, they have opted for a set of three planetary gears which cumulatively are responsible for the reduction ratio function, transmission of the torque, and the centering of the force at each level.
The dial’s hands – one image further above, you’ll see that the hands will be fitted to that pinion you see in the center of the angled plate, just below that massive gold colored wheel – are driven by a so-called worm screw. That part is the one below the two silver-colored mainspring barrels, appearing to be four coins set on a rod, of sorts. What this worm screw does is that it connects the hands’ wheels to the main part of the movement – however, because of the unique, “tubular” construction of the crown-mainsprings-going-train-tourbillon structure, it is also responsible for bringing the drive from the movement to this other, angled plane. It sounds complicated, but in practice it actually is an ingenious solution that allowed for the creation of this genuinely three-dimensional caliber.
All in all, this is a cool new piece and a fascinating expansion of Parmigiani’s Bugatti series of watches. All previous high-end Bugatti pieces have had an unusual case shape and a bespoke, also uniquely shaped movement that was designed and fitted to them specifically – and it is good to see that Parmigiani has not given up on its pursuit for more funky and spectacular in-house calibers. Since the watch is still in a “concept phase,” price for the Parmigiani PF Bugatti 390 Concept we don’t know yet… but you can expect it to come with a six-figure price tag – and then some. parmigiani.ch