Parmigiani Bugatti & Bugatti Chiron: Pushing The Limits
by Martin Green
I wonder how it feels when you have just forked out more than a million to buy a Bugatti Veyron, only to now read that it will be surpassed in every way, shape, and form by Bugatti’s newest car: the Chiron.
Quite honestly though, I don’t think potential customers are in the slightest bothered by it.
According to Bugatti’s parent company, Volkswagen (I still find it so amusing that one of the most expensive cars in the world is in fact made by a company that was founded with the goal of making affordable cars for the people), potential Chiron owners already on average possess 42 other cars, which are located at any of their four houses or perhaps one on board the yacht. Other toys include private jets and a helicopter or three.
These people are probably also not bothered by things that bother me about the new Bugatti Chiron. The fact is that it doesn’t have any racing pedigree and most likely never will. If a Chiron owner wants racing pedigree he or she will have to purchase a winning Formula 1 race car once driven by Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, or Michael Schumacher of a given year.
The fact is also that even on the German autobahn, the Chiron’s top speed is too absurd to be reached.
So what makes these people put a down payment on something that could finance an entire Porsche 911 Turbo on a car they have yet to drive? They do it because it arouses the senses; when you want to go a little bit faster when you are already going very fast it turns into rocket science.
They do it because they want to feel like Andy Green in the supersonic, jet-propelled car Thrust SSC, yet seated in luxurious leather and with a hot date in the passenger seat.
This is certainly why already 110 people have placed an order for their own Chirons acording to Volkswagen, meaning that only 390 more people will have the chance to do the same, since the production is limited to 500 cars – 50 more than the production run of the Veyron.
Does this remind you of the success of the Bentley Bentayga (see The Bentley Bentayga: You Will Love The $160,000 Dashboard Clock Option)? It should. Only that the Chiron owners order Bentaygas for their gardeners to get around the grounds.
Wait a second. Doesn’t Bugatti currently hold this record? No, it doesn’t.
It did until a Texan by the name of John Hennessey (always keep an eye on those Texans; Carroll Shelby was from Texas as well) decided that he could do better, took the base of a Lotus Elise/Exige, poured in all the experience of his tuning company, and created the Venom GT. At the Kennedy Space Center the Venom GT reached a top speed of 435 km/h (270.4 mph), and that is faster than the Veyron, which tops out at 409 km/h (254 mph).
It is probably also the reason why Steven Tyler bought one.
Bugatti and Parmigiani: Super Sport
Pushing the limits is also why, in 2001, Bugatti selected Parmigiani as its watch partner. The way Michel Parmigiani has developed his brand is quite similar to the values Bugatti pursues. Despite his significant background in restoring some of the finest treasures in watchmaking history, Parmigiani does not dwell in the past. Instead, the watchmaker has utilized his considerable expertise to create a brand that is more focused on the future of watchmaking.
The partnership with Bugatti has led to some extraordinary timepieces, which not only embody the essence of Parmigiani but that of Bugatti as well.
The Bugatti Super Sport by Parmigiani is perhaps the most subdued of the collection, if you can believe that. A ten-day power reserve is more than impressive for a mechanical watch, but in an era where watches with 31-day power reserves also exist there needs to be more than that to truly convince high-end connoisseurs.
Parmigiani does that by way of the spectacular Bugatti “engine.” The unusually shaped case does not hide any empty space; it is filled out with a manually wound movement that is built on several vertical layers. It represents an exceptional accomplishment that required gear trains to be redeveloped and pinions made to deal with different angles.
You don’t notice this when you look down through the top of the watch – until you realize that you are looking at the power reserve indicator and the top of the movement! Like a true driver’s watch, the dial is located on the inside, facing the owner. This way you don’t have to take your hands off the steering wheel when you are doing more than 250 miles per hour. This is a comforting thought – until you realize that you will most likely be distracted by the unusual mechanical beauty of this timepiece after all.
Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370
The Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370 takes this concept even further. Here, the watch once again sits on top of the wrist, but now it is like you are looking straight into the gearbox of a Bugatti.
It took Parmigiani six years to develop the tubular-shaped movement needed to power this extraordinary timepiece. This is something that also sets the brand apart from others: it takes roads less traveled because otherwise the end result will simply not measure up.
It is as if Michel Parmigiani wants his own watches to be as extraordinary as the vintage ones he used to restore himself. And that is probably true.
Most unusual about the Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370 is that its movement, shaped like a tube, has five vertically positioned main plates upon which the different subassemblies of the caliber are constructed. They are all connected through a drive shaft that works in a very similar fashion to that of a car.
So whether we’re talking about Bugatti’s cars or Parmigaini’s watches, the allure of an object is not necessarily measured by its accomplishments, but rather the craftsmanship, knowledge, and mechanical prowess needed to get there.
And it takes a connoisseur to recognize that. And a connoisseur with a thick wallet to obtain it.
Quick Facts Bugatti Chiron
Engine: quad-turbocharged DOHC 64-valve W-16
Power: 1,500 hp at 6,000 rpmTorque: 1.165 Newton-meters (859 pound-foot) at 1,350 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed twin-clutch automatic
Acceleration: 0-100 kph in 2.4 seconds (estimated)
Top speed: more than 435 kph (270 mph)
Expected base price: $2,700,000
Quick Facts Parmigiani Bugatti Super Sport
Case: 36 x 50.7 mm, red gold
Movement: manually wound Caliber PF 372
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve
Retail price from 2011: $259,000
Quick Facts Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370 Mythe Piece Unique
Case: 48 x 32.4 x 18.6 mm, pink gold
Movement: manually wound using a dynamometric starter, Caliber PF370 with ten-day power reserve thanks to twin serially operating barrels
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indication
Retail price from 2014: $430,000 ($295,520 for “regular” Type 370)
Also published on Medium.