Has any watch company ever done so much to capture the spirit of a performance car in a watch? There are other candidates – Bremont’s E-Type and Hublot’s LaFerrari come to mind – but you would be hard-pressed to do a more thorough job than the free-revving mega-watch that is the Jacob & Co x Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon.
And what a car they are trying to emulate. When the 1000-horsepower Bugatti Veyron was launched in 2005, the 250mph beast was the last word in performance. A little over a decade later, the Chiron came along and forced us to recalibrate the concept of speed. Half as much power again – yes 1,500 horsepower – the 16-cylinder Chiron is electronically limited to 261mph, but estimated to be capable of closer to 290mph.
That makes it sound like a monster, and while it is monstrously fast, the Chiron is also ridiculously easy to handle. I was lucky enough to have a fairly decent go driving one on the open roads around the Bugatti factory in Molsheim, France, a couple of years back. The 4WD system puts power down in a way that doesn’t make sense, and the car hauls in the distance without ever making you feel that you are losing control.
Car and watch collaborations are very commonplace nowadays, but Bugatti has been at it for almost a century. Back in the 1920s, Mido began making watches shaped like the radiators of contemporary Bugattis. These very collectable pieces were mostly gifts from Ettore Bugatti to clients, racing drivers and his most valued employees. The founder also commissioned Jaeger-LeCoultre for gauges, and Breguet for a series of car clocks.
Mr Bugatti took watches almost as seriously as he took cars, but after he died in 1947 the company’s fortunes quickly fell and it went out of business. The modern incarnation of Bugatti, a VW subsidiary, is keeping the founder’s love of watches alive – along with his fondness for speed, of course.
In the early 2000s Bugatti formed a partnership with Parmigiani Fleurier and unveiled the radical Type 370, with transverse movement, oval-shaped dial and 10-day power reserve. Parmigiani produced a series of variations on the Type 370 in different metals and styles, along with more conventionally shaped Bugatti watches, right up until the deal with Jacob & Co. was announced in early 2019. Jacob & Co kicked off the partnership with the unveiling of the Epic X Chrono 110 Years Limited Edition and the Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti Edition.
The Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon comprises a staggering 578 components and the hand-wound “engine block” comes complete with little pistons and a “crankshaft”. When you push the right-hand crown, as Jacob & Co. puts it, “the crankshaft turns and the pistons pump up and down, just like a true internal combustion engine.”
The hand-wound, flying tourbillon movement was designed from scratch, and was more than a year in development. Framing the movement are two “exhausts” and the tourbillon window is modelled after the Chiron’s horseshoe grill. In case the car theme is still somehow lost on you, have a look at the power reserve indicator at three o’clock – styled like a tiny fuel gauge, this is a nice touch from a company that really has thought about every last detail.
Manufacture Jacob & Co. JCAM37 hand-wound movement with one-minute tourbillon
54x44mm black titanium
Rubber with titanium buckle