Parmigiani and Bugatti: A Perfect Partnership
The ultimate honor for a watch maker is to partner with a class-leading automotive company and produce special timepieces whose designs echo the sentiments of both brands.
Even though car and watch relationships make a lot of sense to those who understand an appreciation for high performance machines, history has shown that they are difficult to maintain. With that said, Parmigiani and Bugatti are likely very proud of their already 11 year long collaboration together which has resulted in some of the most beautiful and unique luxury timepieces over the last decade.
Parmigiani Fleurier began its relationship with Bugatti automobiles when the brand was just 8 years. It is further highly uncommon for deeply established car companies to work with watch makers that are newer than them. In 2004 Parmigiani debuted its first collaboration timepiece with the Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370 – an extremely avant garde collection of timepieces that was meant to echo not only the front engine portion of classic Bugatti cars but also to recall the classic “driver’s watch.” Such historic timepieces displayed the time to the side rather than straight up on one’s wrist – as a means of making it more easy to read the time while holding onto a steering wheel.
With its long power reserve of 10 days and extremely exclusivity, the various Bugatti Type 370 watches produced over the years were each limited edition models with prices that would make even Bugatti owners consider their purchase. In 2014, upon the 10th anniversary of the Parmigiani and Bugatti relationship, a trio of piece unique Type 370-style watches were released that included a price that neared half a million dollars.
The watch that eventually followed-up the Bugatti Type 370 was another driver’s style timepieces known as the Parmigiani Bugatti Super Sport. For the first time, Parmigiani developed a timepiece specifically made for a Bugatti car – which was the Super Sport version of the Veyron. More characteristically Parmigiani in character, the Super Sport embodied the tear drop-shape aesthetic of the brand into the side of the case. Later versions of the Super Sport offered additional material and color variation, and were also tied to Bugatti Veyron models.
The first production Parmigiani Bugatti watch with a more traditional round case and dial was the Atalante, which even came as a model for women. A more traditional chronograph watch, the Bugatti Atalante was meant to be an ode to the Bugatti car grill with a daily wear style design. Interestingly enough, Parmigiani experimented with a convertible concept watch for Bugatti in 2009 with the Parmigiani Bugatti Tourbillon. The idea behind this was a convertible watch that would go from the wrist to a docking module.
Bugatti is not a mainstream auto maker and as such, most of the Parmigiani Bugatti watches were not designed to be mainstream in their appeal. However, in 2014 Parmigiani released a new collection of Bugatti watches known as the Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe Flyback Chronograph. Once again, the brand took a look back at the history of Bugatti (versus its present day products) and managed to finally release a beautiful and graceful timepiece that amassed plenty of mainstream appeal in both its design and more accessible pricing. The Aerolithe comes in an attractive round case with distinctive Parmigiani teardrop lugs and a useful automatic chronograph movement. A key design element is the chronograph pushers that are built into the left side of the case in the strap lugs. Also, for the first time, Parmigiani put the full “Bugatti” name on the dial as opposed to the shorter “EB” Bugatti logo used on most previous watches.
The relationship between Parmigiani and Bugatti has remained intimate, but respectful. The brands have not engaged in throwing large events, races, or other spectator-style collaborations designed to draw major attention. Instead, most events between the two brands remain discreet and relatively private. That is perhaps one of the key elements of success between this particular watch and car maker relationship – the obvious mutual respect between the companies as well as the dedication to exclusivity that clients demand.