A mechanical icon
Since its prototype was unveiled in September 2004, the Bugatti Type 370 watch - an absolute world first - has completely transformed the way the mechanical watch is perceived. Unique in the history of watchmaking, it was the first to use a transversely positioned movement. Its overwhelming success has since made it a mechanical icon, its singular achievement is the continuance of the automotive theme which has been the inspiration right to the heart of its movement.
An exceptional watchmaking piece, the Bugatti Type 370 required four years of intense research undertaken by specialists from around fifty disciplines, all of which are housed within the Parmigiani Fleurier manufacture.
No external crown could be allowed to disturb the purity of its contours, so an ingenious movement winding system had to be specially designed for the watch. Using a dynamometric tool known as the "starter", which is as highly complex as the watch itself, the user can set the watch's time or wind the movement, which has an exceptional autonomy of 10 days.
The Bugatti Centenaire, the crowning glory of a legendary series
Today, the two unique Bugatti Type 370 Centenaire models, created in honour of 100 years of the Bugatti brand, will take pride of place in this genuine watchmaking adventure, bringing this legendary series of 200 pieces to an end.
To crown this achievement, Parmigiani entrusted these two anniversary models in 18 carat rose gold and platinum 950 to an exceptional artisan engraver, Philippe Bodenmann. Faced with the myriad curves of the Bugatti, where concave and convex lines diverge and then meet to form the unique aesthetics of the watch, his artistic skill was a match for the mechanical complexity of the piece.
Free to follow his inspiration, the artisan engraver let himself be guided by the form. Philippe Bodenmann explains: “The decoration is guided by the form. What came to mind immediately was an engraving inspired by the magnificent Venetian velour fabrics, where the geometric pattern would allow the interior curves of the Bugatti's lugs to be followed in the most complex way.”
Like a second skin, the “draughtboard” engraving of the rose gold Bugatti distils the aesthetic of its curves, giving them a life and a brilliance that only the work of the human hand can deliver, as the material is repeatedly worked with the graver. More than 300 hours of engraving were required to complete this piece; a single square of the pattern alone involves more than thirty grooves, being worked two or three times in a row, to obtain the desired result.
The platinum Bugatti Centenaire displays a “chevron” pattern that the artisan engraver has to first patiently outline over the entire case middle. Using his point graver (the graver most suited to the work of hollowing the noble metal into the desired style) he traces fine parallel lines, creating deeper or shallower grooves to catch the light at varying degrees of intensity. Close attention has to be paid throughout to ensure the fine line ends when exactly perpendicular to the edge, the lustre of which lends power and volume to the Bugatti. This work also takes more than 300 hours to complete.
For more information, please visit www.parmigiani.ch