Cars & motorsport

The long and ‘winding’ road just got shorter...

Watchonista test drives the Bugatti Chiron hypercar – and the Parmigiani super watch that goes with it.

By Simon de Burton

I initially thought Andy Wallace was joking when he said, "Slow right down to around 20kph, make sure it's in first gear and floor it." But he was deadly serious, so I did as he said and, for once, the lately over-used adjective 'awesome' proved entirely appropriate to this situation.

Why? Because I was behind the wheel of the Bugatti Chiron hypercar. In which 'flooring it' means releasing 1,500 horsepower and a scarcely believable 1,600 Newton meters of torque. Figures which would usually mean howling tires, a fishtailing back-end and, above all, that horrible feeling of being completely out of control.

Had it been anyone other than Wallace encouraging me I might well have ignored them. But the fact that Bugatti's Chief Test Driver has won the Le Mans 24 hours four times, the 24 hours of Daytona three times, the 12 hours of Sebring twice among numerous other blue-chip races, suggests that he might just be a man to trust.

What the exercise demonstrated was that only is Chiron a wild and crazy machine, but its brilliantly engineered and superbly refined. The simple fact that it put down all that power without so much as a squeal of rubber and catapulted us up the road in an arrow-straight line belied the fact that we had travelled from a virtual standstill to 200kph in just six seconds.

To put the experience into context, I can only compare it with my one and only ride in a top fuel dragster. The difference is, the dragster was designed to run for a bone-jarring quarter of a mile. The Chiron is designed to take you around the world in total comfort as quickly, or as slowly, as you wish. 

With just 500 due to be made, relatively few people will get to see a Chiron, let alone have the chance to drive one.

The Parmigiani Type 390

Recently, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to visit Bugatti's Molsheim factory to see how the Chiron is assembled and for a special preview of the final version of the Parmigiani Type 390 watch that's been designed to complement it.

The entire body is made from carbon fiber, the serpentine exhaust system is extruded from titanium and the massive, 16-cylinder, eight-liter engine is nothing short of a work of engineering art. It’s equally fair to say the Type 390 watch is just as remarkable in its own way.

The latest fruit of a collaboration between the two brands that began with the Type 370 watch unveiled in 2004, shortly before the launch of the Veyron. The Type 390 features an engine-style cylindrical movement that can be slid from the wedge-shaped case for maintenance and transmits energy to the dial through a worm screw arrangement.

Twin spring barrels provide 80 hours of power reserve which can be monitored on a 'fuel gauge' style power reserve indicator, and the 80-part case is articulated to ensure a perfect, comfortable fit. Initially the watch will be available in two editions, 10 in white gold and 10 in red gold (although, we were told titanium is a special-order option).


Priced around 250,000 Euros the Parmigiani Fleurier Type 390 is not, of course, cheap - but since some 300 of the 500 Chirons due to be produced have already been sold at around 2.5 million Euros each, we can safely assume that Parmigiani's target customers won't regard the price as being much of a road block. 

Indeed, since both objects occupy unique places in their respective fields, there’s a good chance that they will become collectable. And who knows? They may even seem like bargains in years to come…

Tech specs:

Bugatti Chiron

Engine: 7,993cc, W16, 1,500 horsepower.
Zero - 60mph: 2.4 seconds.
Zero to 124mph: 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 261 mph with 'speed key' engaged, 236 mph 'normal mode'
Price: 2.5m Euros (USD $2.998m on the road)

Parmigiani Fleurier Type 390

Movement: Cylindrical mechanical Calibre PF 390 with tourbillon
Dial: Skeletonized and with hand driven via worm screw
Power reserve: 80 hours from twin, coupled spring barrels
Case: 80 parts
Sapphire crystals: 4, including a magnifying crystal over the tourbillon cage
Price: 250,000 Euros

Parmigiani Fleurier on Watchonista

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