Parmigiani Fleurier has been a partner of Bugatti since 2004. 

In that year, the watchmaker broke new ground producing a watch with a three-dimensional “engine”, the Bugatti Type 370, to accompany the launch of the Bugatti Veyron 16.4. 

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It also marked the beginning of a collection that has since grown to include Bugatti Type 37 Centenaire, Bugatti Super Sport, Bugatti Vitesse and Bugatti Super Sport Sapphire.

At January’s SIHH in Geneva, Parmigiani Fleurier unveiled the Bugatti Type 390, inspired by the 1500-horsepower quad-turbocharged W16 engine of the latest Chiron model by the prestigious carmaker. 

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The timepiece is available in rose gold and white gold versions, each in a 10-piece limited edition.

Founder Michel Parmigiani talked to STYLE about this high-power journey of innovation.

The Bugatti Type 390 timepiece is described as “probably the most complicated watch the brand has ever manufactured”. What were some of the biggest challenges in the process of creating and how were they overcome?

The biggest challenge behind the Bugatti Type 390 is to have assembled a movement along a single axis which runs in a single line from the barrel to the tourbillon. 

This is exceptional and makes the Bugatti Type 390 different from other Bugatti timepieces without a single-axis construction – the Bugatti Type 370’s movement is rather made of different mechanical modules in interaction.

This single-axis construction means that we had to devise many differential mechanisms and satellites throughout the tube, acting as a filter to control and adjust the flow of strength.

The calibre looks rather interesting; it is tubular and housed in a cylinder. It also boasts an 80-hour power reserve made possible by two series-mounted barrels. What was the challenge in building this mechanism?

You see, the power generated by the barrel at one end of the axis is both much too strong and much too slow in rotation for the tourbillon to receive at the other end. 

Actually, if you put the barrel in direct contact with the tourbillon, it would explode to pieces. So those numerous differential satellites throughout the tube act as filters, to reduce the power and increase the speed of rotation, making the force exerted by the barrel perfectly adequate for the tourbillon in the end.

We have heard that the movement is in a modular design. Would you elaborate for us?

The movement of the Bugatti Type 390 can be taken out of the watch case with a single press: it can be made totally independent from the watch and this is absolutely new. 

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It’s derived from the automotive world where the car mechanics can extract the motor only from the vehicle. 

We wanted to be as close as ever to the car industry and this Bugatti Type 390 is a true motor block on the wrist.

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