The Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aérolithe Performance is an automative-inspired watch, a specialty of the Fleurier-based brand, inspired by another mythical car of the no less mythical brand Bugatti. Mythical because this magnesium car (completely unusual back the days) remained at a prototype stage and lasted for a very short period. The watch we have today is much more concrete and has some desirable features and a bold design to offer. Here is the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aérolithe Performance.
The story of the Bugatti Aérolithe is an almost legend. Hiding his work from his father Ettore, Jean Bugatti built the Bugatti Aérolithe, creating it from a highly flammable magnesium alloy that made welding impossible. The body was designed in two parts joined by an ingenious riveted dorsal seam. Shortly after it was unveiled in 1935, this incredible car which fell from the sky – hence its meteorite-inspired name – disappeared from the surface of the earth, its brief passage marked by just a few photographs. What remained is a stupendous shape, properly ahead of its time, with multiple details that will be today used for the creation of a commemorative watch, the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aérolithe Performance, a watch that is a new iteration in the PF / Bugatti story (see here or here for more examples).
Still, don’t expect the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aérolithe Performance to be made with that same metal. Its case is made entirely from titanium, with impressive shape and details. While we can all easily spot the linage with the Tonda case (especially for the water-drop lugs), the still-reasonable 41mm case is more angular, more designed, more aggressive and simply bolder in this Bugatti iteration. Yet, the finishing of the case, as usual with PF, is delicate. Underneath the crown and the pushers, the intermediate ring displays an “inverted diamond point” pattern, which is impossible to create by removing material with the usual methods. This high-tech piece uses laser technology to apply finishes. The result is a matte surface, which present a slightly darker and warmer color, while not coated.
The case of the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aérolithe Performance is also quite unique and complex in its construction. First of all, while the crown is placed classically at 3, the pushers are located on the other side of the case, for a more practical use when driving (you have to use the thumb to actuate the chronograph). Then, the construction itself is particular, with these large and complex lugs added to the central container, resulting in a quite massive but easily recognizable shape. The diamond pattern is also used on the leather strap, to create the link with the rest of the watch – the case of course, but also the dial.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aérolithe Performance doesn’t do things in the most discreet way there too. Indeed, the dial is rather loaded, colorful and shows a diamond pattern. Yet, the overall design remain harmonious and legible. What differentiate this chronograph from traditional ones is the way scales are displayed. Here, the focus is clearly on speed calculations. First, on the periphery of the dial is a tachymeter ring (start the chronograph, drive for one kilometer, and once you crossed that distance, you’ll be able to know your average speed over this distance). This scale is double: in red it allows calculations in km/h and in blue, calculations in mi/h.
This combination of blue and red is used all over the dial, with the same km/h / mi/h distinction. Yet, another scale is visible, this time on the metallic inner flange. Graduations are depicting the exceptional performances of the Bugatti Chiron (acceleration times, with for example the 0-100km/h, the 0-300km/h or the 0-400km/h, done here in 33.5 seconds… you’d be happy if your average car does the 0-200km/h in that same interval of time). Again, blue and red will help dissociation between the two speed units. The 30-minute counter at 3 is also used for speed calculations, yet this time for lower speed that require a more-than-one-minute duration. On top of that, the dial of the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aérolithe Performance displays a date, in a triple-window at 6, and a small second at 9.
Under the hood of the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aérolithe Performance is a know movement, the PF335 calibre, a flyback chronograph with modular construction, based on a in-house developed movement. This 30mm movement, visible from the caseback, is finely decorated with Geneva stripes and bevelled angles. It has a modern 4hz frequency and a comfortable 50h power reserve.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aérolithe Performance is a bold and sporty watch, which doesn’t hide its automative roots, by widely using the chronograph function for speed calculations. It will definitely talk to a specific range of collectors but they will enjoy a nicely executed and well balanced watch, with a bold design. Price: Euro 20,800. www.parmigiani.com.
Specifications of the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aérolithe Performance
- Case: 41mm diameter x 12.77mm height – Grade 5 Titanium, polished, brushed and laser engraved – sapphire crystal on both sides – 30m water resistant
- Movement: PF 335 calibre, in-house – automatic – 4Hz frequency – 50h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, flyback chronograph
- Strap: textured black leather strap with folding buckle