There are supercars, there are hypercars, and then there are Bugattis. In a league of their own, the mechanical works of art produced by the company send out a clear message to any competitor: we are the fastest and the most expensive; we are something special. So, among the many partnerships between car and watch manufacturers, a car such as the breathtaking Bugatti Chiron naturally needs to be paired with a timepiece of distinction. After a first glimpse of the prototypes over a year ago, to coincide with the presentation of the Chiron, Parmigiani Fleurier now presents the definitive versions of the Bugatti Type 390, which it dubs “an engine block on the wrist”.
Bugatti Type 390 © Parmigiani Fleurier
Like its predecessor, the Type 370, the Type 390 has a cylindrical movement, but the similarity ends there. In the Type 390, the rotation of the cylindrical movement is translated into a conventional “flat” time display on a standard 12-hour scale, using a worm screw (which is a first in watchmaking). To do this, the gear trains found in conventional watch movements, which translate movement laterally, have been replaced by no fewer than three planetary gear trains, each with its own central train wheel – another first in watchmaking.
Type 390 movement © Parmigiani Fleurier
The case shape has the same distinctive silhouette as the Chiron and incorporates an innovative mechanism that allows it to pivot through an angle of 12° to fit perfectly on any wrist. Although the case itself is imposing, measuring 57.7mm by 42.2mm, the cylindrical movement inside is a feat of micro-mechanical engineering, being no wider than the width of the flying tourbillon and incorporating the world’s smallest ball bearing (1.2mm total diameter with 12 ceramic balls measuring just 0.2mm in diameter) for its planetary gear train. Parmigiani Fleurier has nevertheless managed to squeeze in two mainspring barrels, coupled in series, which offer an 80-hour power reserve for the manually-wound movement. The large crown on the right-hand side of the movement hides another innovation: the four components that usually make up the winding and time-setting stem have been replaced by a single rod clamp that performs the same function. The entire movement also has an ingenious modular design that means it can easily be removed for servicing independently of the rest of the mechanism.
The unique worm screw assembly © Parmigiani Fleurier
Parmigiani Fleurier calls the Type 390 the “court jester” in its collection, which in my opinion does it a great disservice. This watch is no fool and is certainly no joke. It may look a little strange but, unlike many other other-worldly timepieces, it actually has a conventional dial that is easily readable, thanks largely to a great contrast between red-gold hands and a deep black fully skeletonised dial with large hour numerals around its perimeter. Like the Bugatti Chiron, it will only be available to a very select few, since only 20 models will be produced in total, 10 in white gold and 10 in red gold. As far as the price is concerned, if you can afford a $2.5 million Bugatti Chiron then the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Type 390 is just a question of small change.
One of the more recent success stories of the Swiss watchmaking industry, Parmigiani Fleurier emerged from the close relationship between watchmaker Michel Parmigiani and the Sandoz Family Foundation.Find out more
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