Parmigiani’s new Bugatti Chiron-inspired watch is an epic feat of engineering, just like the car, says Alex Doak
When the long-awaited successor to Bugatti’s Veyron, the “Chiron” growled onto the stage at the Geneva Motor Show last month, petrolheads gawped, slack-jawed at its sinister styling and boosted spec (up a whole 500bhp to 1,500bhp, somehow) while watchnerds wondered what fresh horological wonders would emerge from the Swiss ateliers of Parmigiani Fleurier in response to such an epic machine.
The answer, in prototype form, was in the thronging press conference crowd already, on the wrist of Jean-Marc Jacot, CEO of Parmigiani. For while Chiron, like its predecessor, is frankly incomparable to any other car – for speed, it even trumps an F1 car – Bugatti is not above a watch-brand tie-in. Just as Breitling and Bentley, Hublot and Ferrari, or Richard Mille and Aston Martin enjoy a symbiotic relationship, so Parmigiani has drawn inspiration from its automotive familiar since 2004. That year’s Type 370 beat Veyron’s delayed launch by a whole 2 years – inspired by the formidable W16 engine block, its “transverse” movement exploded the usual sandwich of bridges and plates found in a mechanical movement, and lay them across the wrist with the dial sidelong, thus easily readable while clutching a steering wheel.
This year’s Type 390 is still a concept, but the movement is yet another tour-de-force of engine-block futurism in the true spirit of the Chiron. It manages to combine the tubular transverse arrangement of the Type 370 with the dual-plane plate arrangment of the recent “Super Sport” watch – bevelled gears allowing 90º re-orientation of the mechanics – adding a tumbling tourbillon assembly into the mix for good measure.
The cost? To be confirmed, but easily north of what you’d pay for a Lamborghini Aventador. And much easier to park.