Watches

Watch of the Week: Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Type 390

Parmigani Fleurier Bugatti Type 390

It feels like we’ve been waiting for this for far, far too long. After all, the Chiron has been available for a good while now (if you can get hold of one anyway) and still no new entry into Parmigiani’s ongoing Bugatti saga.

Oh, we had a prototype early last year and the 390 then was a very impressive, albeit hypothetical watch. Still, a concept is not a production watch and as with cars many are doomed to ultimate obscurity. Fortunately, not so here. While it may be long overdue, we finally have the full production version of the Parmigiani Fleurier Type 390.

The Chiron is no normal car. It’s a beast, grown from the group-up with tyre-melting, track-ripping performance. The watch therefore can’t be a normal watch – and it isn’t. Some might call it over-engineered and they’d be right. That’s why we love it.

In line with the collection, the 390 has an entirely new movement to match the unique shape of the watch. It’s a slight refinement of the original 390 concept that answered the completely unasked question of how to create a front-facing dial from a side-facing movement.

Parmigani Fleurier Bugatti Type 390

The idea was to create a cylindrical movement with a worm screw transmission. This is the least extreme piece of engineering in the movement but the most inspired. It transfers the energy of the movement into the front-facing dial, bridging the gap between the planes.

There’s also a planetary gear system, a co-axial coupling system, a torque limiter, a gear differential… the list goes on. It’s hard to imagine much gives the engineers at Bugatti pause but the Type 390 certainly gives it a good go.

Parmigani Fleurier Bugatti Type 390

Parmigani Fleurier Bugatti Type 390

All of that is fit into the odd, wedge-shaped case that the collection is known for. The difference here is that where previous pieces had to show the time on the side, this shows it in a more ‘traditional’ way. It’s ironic really; the original design was to allow drivers to read the time with their hands on the wheel. Here Parmigiani have gone to enormous lengths to backtrack.

Parmigani Fleurier Bugatti Type 390

It does however make the Richard Mille-like dial far more readable which is always a plus. It also lets you see the barrels of that beautiful cylinder of horological insanity turning away – barrels that provide 80 hours of power reserve. Oh, and there’s also a flying tourbillon because… well, at this point why the hell not?

Bugatti Chiron (2017)

The £1.9m Bugatti Chiron (2017)

It’s a bold move to try and match something as incomparable as the Bugatti Chiron, especially in a space as small as your wrist. With the Type 390, Parmigiani may well have done just that; www.parmigiani.com

Connoisseur’s Corner

  • The latest in Parmigiani’s ongoing partnership with Bugatti
  • 2mm by 57.7mm case in 18kt rose or white gold
  • PF390 cylindrical caliber with an 80-hour power reserve and flying tourbillon
  • 320 separate components and multiple watchmaking firsts
  • Price: 295,000 CHF

About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.