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Jacob & Co. - Firing On All Cylinders

Jacob & Co. Firing On All Cylinders

The new Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron kicks things up a few gears.

Jacob & Co. began their partnership with luxury high-performance car manufacturer Bugatti just last year, but 2020 marks the first all-new Jacob & Co. timepiece to come under the auspices of this collaboration. The Epic X Chrono Bugatti and the Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti were impressive pieces with which to kick off the year of the announcement, but the Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron — just unveiled today — operates on a different level altogether.

You know a timepiece has something pretty amazing up its sleeve when the tourbillon is considered a secondary feature. The Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron celebrates the carmaker’s most audacious creation by debuting an entirely new automaton that occupies the entire bottom half of the watch.

A plein régime

Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon © Jacob & Co.

 

There are three crowns at the base of the watch case. The crown on the right sets off the automaton when pushed, and the action is ignited!

Below the flying tourbillon, below the hour and minute hands — all ignored for the moment while the automaton is doing its thing — sits a miniaturised W16 engine, made of monobloc sapphire crystal. Within its transparent confines, 16 tiny articulated pistons pump up and down, connected to an equally tiny crankshaft. On the right of the engine block, two “turbocharger” intake fans spin, mimicking the air intake mechanism on an actual supercar.

Never before has the raw power of a high-performance vehicle been so perfectly reflected in the micromechanical confines of an haute horologerie timepiece.

A plein régime

Bugatti Chiron © Bugatti

The concept of mirroring underpins not only the construction of the movement but also the translation of the driver-car relationship into a wearer-watch context. When you’re in the driver’s seat of an exceptionally engineered car, its combination of power source and wheels gives you forward momentum. When you wind and wear a watch, you are the one giving power to the wheels within.

In physically mirroring and miniaturising the engine of a Bugatti Chiron, Jacob & Co. have subtly worked in other mechanical and aesthetic reversals throughout the movement that make reference to the underlying “reflection, not replication” concept.

A plein régime

Engine of the Bugatti Chiron © Bugatti

While it is the tiny crankshaft — its highly complex geometries machined out of a single steel part — that drives the pistons in the Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron watch, the reverse is true in an actual internal combustion engine. The sequence of power transmission in the automaton goes from its separate barrel to the crankshaft to the pistons. In a real internal combustion engine, the ignited fuel forces the pistons to move within their cylinders, which in turn rotates the crankshaft. 

A plein régime

© Bugatti

Compared to actual turbochargers, which funnel compressed air towards the cylinders to boost engine power, the simulated “turbochargers” in the Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron are actually a cleverly disguised means of regulating the speed of the cylinders. The fins of the turbines are the only visible elements of a multi-component mechanism that controls the release of torque from the automaton’s separate mainspring barrel. The hidden components will be immediately recognisable to those familiar with the technical history of minute repeaters. They comprise a specialised escape wheel and anchor that were used to adjust the chiming speed of minute repeaters before the modern-day centrifugal regulator was invented.

A plein régime

Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon © Jacob & Co.

 

Motor enthusiasts often make claims about the euphonious nature of a car engine’s growl — you can see that sentiment expressed mechanically here, in the Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron’s use of a sonnerie mechanism in their miniaturised engine block.

The entire movement rests atop a meticulously adjusted set of shock absorber coils, which minimises the effect of bumps (or the G-forces imposed by a high-adrenaline ride in a Bugatti supercar) upon the watch. As the movement is essentially suspended with limited mobility within its case, a solution had to be found for winding the timekeeping barrel (separate from the automaton barrel). In most timepieces, the winding crown connects to a rigid stem that engages with the mainspring barrel. In this timepiece, the barrel (mounted within the movement) is mobile, but the winding crown (the leftmost crown) is in a fixed position on the case. A rigid winding stem could be deformed or even broken if the movement should shift around too much.

A plein régime

© Jacob & Co.

The engineers behind the movement therefore created an articulated winding stem that effectively engages the barrel while accommodating any spatial shifts of the movement within its case. The 60 hours of power reserve is shown on a scale that borrows from the aesthetics of a car dashboard indicator (its reversed Empty–Full orientation one last nod to the mirroring concept of the timepiece).

The Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron comes in a blackened titanium case that echoes the sleek lines of its automotive inspiration. The central crown winds both the timekeeping and automaton barrels, depending on whether it’s wound clockwise or anticlockwise. With this new high-octane timepiece, the Jacob & Co. and Bugatti partnership is running on all cylinders.

A plein régime

© Bugatti

 

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