Parmigiani Fleurier had lifted the veil on this development over a year ago with the presentation of a spectacular concept watch, on the occasion of the launch of the Bugatti Chiron at the 2016 Geneva Motor show. After a few more months of development, the model has now made it to production in an updated version – and it looks even better! Here is the final version of the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Type 390.
It all began in 2001 when Bugatti was looking for a watch partner with an acute sense of design, and enough technical expertise to be the perfect horological fit with their ethics and mind-blowing automotive creations. Three years later, the first timepiece born from the Bugatti-Parmigiani partnership was presented. Guided by the need to ignore conventions and ask “what if?”, Michel Parmigiani unveiled an extraordinary development that would set the benchmark for the creations under this partnership. The Bugatti Type 370 was built around an unprecedented tubular-shaped movement, with lateral time display…
The Bugatti Chiron
Unveiled in 2016 to replace the Veyron, the Chiron is the vehicle the Molsheim-based carmaker claims as “the world’s most powerful, fastest, most luxurious, and most exclusive super sports car.”
Bugatti’s latest supercar is unbelievably powerful (1,500hp) and fast (very fast, as it could well reach over 450kmh/280mph). The Chiron packs 600 more horsepower than a Formula One car and can go from zero to 100 km/h in under two and a half seconds and 400 km/h in 32,6 seconds. The car was named after Louis Chiron, the brand’s driver in the European championships in the early 1930s.
The latest creation born from this partnership, released in tribute to the fastest street-legal supercar, had to be exceptional. The Parmigiani Fleurier Type 390 keeps the tubular-shaped movement concept of the 370 – although it has little to do with its look and principles. However, it uses a worm screw to convert the transmission to a horizontal plane. The time is therefore displayed in a traditional way, but on an inclined plane – which makes perfect sense for a driver’s watch, to allow reading the time while holding the steering wheel.
The ‘engine’ of the Bugatti Type 390. The barrel drums are engraved with the name of ‘Louis Chiron’ and ‘le vieux renard’ (‘The old fox’ in French, Chiron’s nickname).
The fruit of 4 years of development, the unique “engine” of the Type 390 is a cylindrical movement whose diameter has been slimmed down (12.5mm) so it is no bigger than its flying tourbillon regulator! The entire architecture was designed to fit this measurement. The barrels, gear train and regulating organ are mounted axially, as successive floors. This engine block can be removed from its housing just like that of a race car!
This engine is powered by two series-mounted barrels to ensure a relatively constant torque and to store 80-hour of power reserve, a rather impressive feat for such a small diameter! The patented triangular coupling used enables self-centring of the barrels. The gear train is made of planetary gears assembled one on top of the other. Each of these features three ball bearings and a toothed gear made using metallic growth. Parmigiani states that the ball bearings (9 in total) are the smallest ever with a diameter of 1.28 mm to house 12 ceramic balls of 0.2 mm.
At its extremity, the movement is regulated by a one-minute flying tourbillon oscillating at 28,800 vibrations per hour. The balance wheel features a Breguet overcoil and adjustment screws for an inertia of 10 mg/cm2. It is manufactured with Atokalpa, a sister company of Parmigiani Fleurier that is also part of the group of watchmaking companies controlled by the Sandoz foundation.
To wind the movement and adjust the time, Parmigiani has designed a rod clamp, replacing the four common parts of an ordinary watch movement. A differential with conical gears enables the display of the power reserve on a sapphire tube framing the movement. Finally, a unique, smart worm screw is used for the 90° transfer of the motion from the tubular engine to the inclined dial to display hours and minutes.
The watch resulting from this innovative calibre is truly unique and spectacular. The fluid curves of the sophisticated case have been inspired by that of the Chiron. Fashioned out of gold, the case is articulated: it can pivot 12° (patent pending) for enhanced comfort around the wrist, which helps to compensate for the dimensions of the watch. Large openings fitted with sapphire crystals offer a rich view on the intricacies of the movement and the open-worked dial.
As you would expect from Parmigiani Fleurier, the Type 390 also displays superb craftsmanship. All movement parts are meticulously finished. The case’s polished / satin-brushed surfaces are impeccable. It is engraved with the Parmigiani logo as well as the EB initials of Ettore Bugatti. The dial is finely openworked, featuring Arabic numerals and is paired with luminescent hands. The smooth alligator strap is crafted by Hermes and fitted with a gold folding buckle.
The PF Type 390 is spectacular watch. Beyond its cool design, if it is now a production piece and no longer just a concept watch, it is nonetheless an interesting hub of innovations and new solutions (ultra-small ball bearings, triangular coupling, worm screw, articulated case, etc.) and it will be interesting to see how these will find their way to be integrated into future creations from the brand. Priced at CHF 295’000, it is released in two limited editions of 10 pieces. For more information, please visit www.parmigianifleurier.com.
Technical specifications – Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Type 390
- Case: 42.20 mm x 57.7 mm x 18.4 mm pink or white gold case – 4 sapphire crystals with anti-reflective coating – loupe on the flying tourbillon – 3 ATM / 30 m water resistant
- Movement: caliber PF390 mechanical with manual winding – 25 mm x 37.5 mm – 80h power reserve – 28’800 vibrations/h – 32 jewels – 302 components – hours, minutes, seconds (on the tourbillon), power reserve indicator, flying tourbillon.
- Strap: alligator leather strap with pink or white gold folding buckle
- Limited editions of 10 pieces in pink gold and 10 pieces in white gold
- Reference: PFH390-1201401-HA1442 and PFH390-1001401-HA1442
- Price: 295,000 CHF