Bugatti has in previous years produced a number of exotic and complicated timepieces in partnership with Parmigiani Fleurier – the relationship between the two firms went almost all the way back to the very beginning of the introduction of the marque, in 2005. That year, the Bugatti Veyron – at the time, arguably the world's most advanced hypercar – was released. Just one year later, in 2006, Parmigiani Fleurier introduced the Type 370, which is a tourbillion, configured as what is sometimes called a "driver's watch" (that is, with the case inclined at an angle to improve visibility when your hands are on the wheel) with a very unusual in-line watch movement; this was followed in more recent years with variations on the basic theme, including the Type 390 (as seen in our Hands On from 2018).*
However, this year, Bugatti and Jacob & Co. announced that moving forward, the latter would be the watch partner for the former, and to celebrate the beginning of the partnership, two watches were announced. The first is the Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti Edition. This is a 110-piece limited edition (it is the 110th anniversary of the founding of the original Bugatti firm) in gold, carbon fiber, or diamonds (three diamond-set models will be made) based on the Twin Turbo Furious, which is as much a hyperwatch as the Bugatti Chiron is a hypercar (the Twin Turbo Furious was also the subject of a Hands-On, in 2018). In addition to the Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti Edition, Jacob & Co. is also producing a Bugatti-themed version of its column-wheel controlled, self-winding Epic X Chronograph – this is the Bugatti Chrono Edition Limitée 110 Ans.
Ettore Bugatti.
The original Bugatti firm was founded in 1909 by Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti, who was born in Milan in 1881, and died in Paris, at the age of 65, in 1947. His company was called Automobiles Ettore Bugatti. The company made many famous cars, including the Type 57 and the Bugatti Royale, which was absurd on every conceivable level (there were only a handful made; Ettore Bugatti reportedly refused to sell one to King Zog of Albania because he objected to the monarch's table manners). It weighed over 7,000 pounds and had an engine displacing nearly 13 liters; probably only a car like the Veyron could seem like a follow up that was not insulting.*The original firm ceased operations in 1952, and there were several attempts to revive it – including one period when the Bugatti name was owned by Italian entrepreneur Romani Artioli, who produced a mid-engine sports care (the EB110, one of which was owned by Michael Schumacher). Volkswagen acquired the brand in 1998.
The Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chrono Edition Limitée 110 Ans has a forged carbon, 47mm case, with black ceramic used for the crown and pushers; metal elements of the case are black DLC-treated titanium, as is the buckle. The dial's carbon fiber. It will be produced as a limited edition of 110 pieces. The movement is based on the design of the Valjoux 7750; however it's manufactured by Concepto with a design exclusive to Jacob & Co., and with good quality finishing on the plates and bridges. In its original form, the Valjoux 7750 uses a lever-and-cam system, not a column wheel, which is one of several modifications made to the original 7750 design by Concepto. There's also an easy-to-miss inner rotating bezel which is controlled by a second crown, at 10:00. The red, white, and blue striping uses the colors of the French flag – although Bugatti was born Italian, he was a naturalized French citizen (the company's factory was originally in German Alsace, which came under French jurisdiction after World War I).
The Jacob & Co. caliber JCAA05.
You have to wonder what might have become of the company, if Ettore Bugatti's son Jean had not died at the age of 30, in 1939. Jean Bugatti was killed testing a Type 57 racer, which had won, in the same year, the 24 Hours Of Le Mans – he was lost control of the car and crashed into a tree after hitting a cyclist, who had managed to get onto the test track through a hole in the fence around it. The company had at that point been struggling financially for years, for many reasons, but probably the chiefest among them was Bugatti's absolute refusal to be pragmatic on any point about the construction of the cars bearing his name – he treated them more like kinetic sculpture than a means of transportation, lavishing something similar to high horology-level finishing on his engines, for instance, which is clearly not the way to go if you are having cash flow problems.*
Jean Bugatti seems to have been in some ways more practical – his father once refused to speak with him for months after Jean put hydraulic brakes and independent suspension into a prototype car (Ettore also had the car destroyed). I mention all this because in reviving the Bugatti name in 2005, Volkswagen took on quite a lot and the Veyron, and Chiron, really do seem to be respectful heirs to the legacy of Ettore Bugatti; the watches made in partnership with Bugatti have often seemed at least also aware in their design and mechanisms, of the legacy to which they are connected.
The Bugatti Chiron, at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed, 2016. Image, Matthew Lamb for Wikipedia.
The Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chrono Edition Limitée 110 Ans is not at the technical level of the Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti watch – which is not a knock against it as purely from a mechanical complexity perspective, the Twin Turbo Furious is certainly in a class by itself. The approach the Chrono takes to reflecting the nature of the automobiles made by the modern version of Bugatti, has more to do with design than with bleeding edge engineering per se, and with making something as instantly recognizable as a watch, as the Bugatti Chiron is as a car.
While the Bugatti Chrono Edition Limitée 110 Ans does boast an exclusive movement (which, if not in-house, is at least in-house-ish) the real impact of the watch is visual and aesthetic, not technical. The forged carbon case has a pleasingly complex geometry, with the mottled greys and blacks of the material carried through across the dial and set off sharply by the red, white, and blue insert. (It is also quite light, for such a large watch, thanks to the titanium and carbon fiber construction.) This is obviously a watch for someone who, firstly, likes this sort of extroverted watchmaking and secondly, is a Bugatti fan and as is often the case with Jacob & Co. watches, you pretty much know at first glance whether this is for you or not.*
However, Jacob & Co. is a company that, from a watchmaking perspective, continues to do things not only very much its own way, but which very few other manufacturers are doing and while I find more entertainment value in some of its more mechanically complex pieces (including the Twin Turbo Furious, and watches like the rather mind-boggling Astronomia) it makes a great deal of sense for the company to offer a relatively more affordable and certainly, more daily-wearable watch that represents its partnership with Bugatti. Ironically enough, I think that if you were actually driving a Veyron or Chiron, you would be much more likely to wear this piece than the $524,400 Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti watch, which will for its owners be more likely to be a showpiece than something you'd wear with any regularity. The Epic X chronograph is a great platform for the partnership, in any case – a statement watch for what might be the ultimate statement cars.
The Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chrono Edition Limitée 110 Ans: case, 47mm x 14mm, black DLC titanium and forged carbon; black ceramic screw down crowns; sapphire front and back; water resistance 200 meters. Dial, carbon fiber, black anodized aluminum inner rotating bezel. Movement, Jacob & Co. JCAA05 caliber, self-winding with column wheel; 48 hour power reserve running at 28,800 vph. Limited edition of 110 pieces worldwide; price, $36,000. See it at