The Free-Wheeling Spirit of the Bugatti Type 57: Jacob & Co.’s New Jean Bugatti Timepiece
Jacob & Co.’s latest chapter in its partnership with Bugatti takes a road trip to the past. But could pave an intriguing highway to the future for the always surprising watchmaker.
Jacob & Co.’s recent Bugatti Chiron Blue Sapphire timepiece draws a pretty direct, iridescent line to the burgeoning 8-liter, W16-cylinder, 1500-plus horsepower engine of the modern $3-million Bugatti Chiron hypercar in a wrist-friendly format.
However, the new Jean Bugatti in rose gold chronograph by Jacob & Co. is much more about capturing the romantic essence of the vintage 1930s-era Type 57 Bugatti automobiles, especially the legendary Type 57 SC Atlantic, considered by most car enthusiasts to be the most valuable car on the planet.
As such, this new Jean Bugatti watch represents the introduction of an innovative and superbly complicated new movement to honor such an automotive legend. But it also indicates a bold new direction for the watchmaker so famed for its blend of brash design and horological inventiveness.
Movement Meets Motion
The astounding new manually wound JCFM09 movement inside the Jean Bugatti has a raft of bragging-rights technology packed inside its 470-component structure: twin one-minute flying tourbillons, a high-frequency double retrograde chronograph function with split hands and jumping counters, smooth mushroom pushers that trigger a column wheel system married to a separate barrel and regulating approach, and peripheral hour and minute indicators, to name a few of the marquis innovations.
But it is the thoughtful and artful integration of these functions into what is nothing short of a surprisingly classical and refined wrist-bourne love letter to the Bugatti Type 57 and its designer Jean Bugatti, son of founder Ettore Bugatti, that makes this machine tick and hum so beautifully. Especially in the 18K red gold case with heritage-inspired cream dial execution we share here, that estimable spirit is fully captured for your wearing pleasure. (There is also a sister 18K white gold case with gleaming deep blue dial version available).
Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Bugatti design DNA will instantly recognize the trio of gold-rimmed apertures straddling 6 o’clock on this 46mm timepiece as an artful ode to the Type 57’s fascia.
The two “headlamps” give smoked sapphire views to the exquisite one-minute flying tourbillons spinning in concert to fend off the forces of gravity, with iconic “EB” Bugatti logos in polished steel topping the cages and a spring clutch that regulates the twin 21,600 vph spinners.
And at first glance, the unmistakable ovate Bugatti “grille” between them might appear to be a larger vertical date indicator. But it actually serves as an unexpected and unique jumping 30-minute counter for the watch’s inherent chronograph functionality – a real mind-blower.
But buckle your seat belts for what’s next.
Those short, blued central hands atop the dial’s Bugatti logo aren’t for the hours and minutes. The longer hand rides along a retrograde, precision 10-second gauge that, like a tachometer, jumps dramatically back to zero for every 10-second “gear change” after you activate the chronograph function. In turn, the shorter hand tallies up the minute interval by jumping up to each 10-second marker, and then clutching back to its gold double-zero spot when your minute is up. Finally, as I previously mentioned, the “grille”-located 30-minute counter pops the next minute interval for the half hour into place to complete this astounding re-envisioning of a chronograph.
So, is this some impressive wrist theatre that invokes the thrills of a vintage car race? You bet.
Above and Beyond
Again, mimicking a dashboard’s gauges, two red arrows float along the dial’s elegantly inclined outer rim to clearly indicate the time, with a wide triangle for hours and a more slender one for the minutes. Since they follow the same path, a slight difference in elevation allows the two indicators to pass in the night when minutes catch up to hours.
Even the exhibition caseback, which gives you a splendid view of the dual regulating organs – the components dedicated to the complex chronograph function and the ones for the hours and minutes – reveals some structural bridge work spanning reminiscent of automotive frames and suspension. That dual approach, by the way, ensures a 48-power reserve for the Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti, with a 2-hour power reserve for the chronograph portion of the timepiece.
It’s in the Details
Every box is checked for an automotive-inspired timepiece, to be sure. But given the status of the Bugatti Type 57 and its game-changing vision of what a car could be, the shear inventiveness the craftsmen at Jacob & Co. and how they brought the romance of vintage-fueled motion to the kinetics of elegant time-telling is quite remarkable.
A handsome blue alligator strap with blue stitching finishes the race for the 46mm rose gold Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti, with a black-on-black alligator strap for the white gold/blue dial iteration.
Pricing & Availability
Jacob & Co. has presented the Jean Bugatti for consideration to the Fondation du Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneva (GPHG) in the Chronograph category for this year’s annual watch competition.
There will only be (aptly) 57 pieces of each of the two executions offered, and the price for these masterpieces is strictly on request. Find out more at Jacob & Co.’s website.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)