Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aerolithe Performance - SIHH 2017 LIVE
My passion for watches comes (or used to come) only after my passion for cars, and every time I come across a partnership project that fuses together these two worlds, it feels like I have stumbled upon the Holy Grail! Bugatti and Parmigiani Fleurier represent a union that gave us incredible creations that showed us Michel Parmigiani’s skills and geniality. Many of the independent brands that nowadays feature extraordinary timepieces with a de-structured viewing of the hours owe it to those watches that Parmigiani Fleurier crafted for the extra-luxury brand of the Volkswagen group, whose first rebirth sign in modern times came from the ability of an Italian entrepreneur; Romano Artioli.
In the last years, Parmigiani Fleurier have transferred those ideas to more accessible collections too, unfortunately I am unable to share on the pages of Horbiter the first version of the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aerolithe from some years ago due to the fact that the pics taken have gone missing after the photo shooting session. I vividly remember the deep blue colour of the dial and the strap on that wonderful chronograph; I also remember the folding clasp, whose buckle was built in the shape of a horseshoe, and the Bugatti logo too. The Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Aerolithe Performance 2017 is the latest example of a happy partnership project that kicked off in 2001 and that was originally dedicated to the lucky owners of the cars assembled in Molsheim.
The case of this two-register-chronograph maintains the classic curved lugs that belong to the style heritage of the Tonda, they were taken to extremes so as to recreate the silhouette of the Bugatti Aerolithe; a 1935 prototype designed and crafted in Elektron by Jean Bugatti and a car that takes the myth of its creator to a new level. Elektron was an incredible innovation back in those days as it allowed weight to dramatically reduce if compared to the weight of standard car bodies but since it consisted of an alloy of magnesium and aluminum, it also meant that it was virtually impossible to weld it (magnesium is highly flammable), therefore the different parts of the car body were kept together through rivets; an application originally devised in aeronautics and shipbuilding. Like on every single chronograph of the Bugatti series the chrono buttons were inserted on the left side of the timepiece, between the lugs of the first Bugatti Aerolithe entirely made of titanium; a tribute to the extreme lightness of this particular car. The diameter of the case measures 41mm, while the thickness measures less than 13mm (12,77 to be more precise) as Parmigiani Fleurier aimed at sizes that are not too excessive and that also adhere to the standards of classic watch-making, while still leaving room for modern concessions somewhere else.
Among the style choices that best tell us about the strong link existing between Bugatti and this Aerolithe is the diamond tip motif that appears on the extremely beautiful leather strap similar to the one crafted by Bugatti on the Chiron’s seats, the same pattern also appears on the dial, where the polished finishing of the tips is in full contrast to the matted finishing of the two counters. A similar motif (the diamond’s tip is actually upside down on this one) was inserted on the entire external perimeter, between the bezel and the case.
The outer part of the dial, where the tachymetric scale both in kms/h amd mps/h appears, was crafted using a selective laser sandblasting technique; laser was also used to craft the matted surface on the two counters that is in full contrast to the polished finishing of the pattern that appears in the middle of the dial. The double scale was also inserted on the 30-minute-chrono-counter, where the blue colour (of Bugatti) was used on the kms/h scale, while a red colour was used on the mps/h scale. This is how it can be used as a tachymeter too. The Bugatti logo (of EB) was applied to the very foreground, just above the large circled sector window used for the date.
Some information about the Parmigiani Fleurier PF335 calibre; it is an in-house built chronograph with the Flyback function, it guarantees up to 50 hours of power reserve, it runs at a frequency of 4Hz and the main plate sports a Côtes de Gènève decoration. How does the Parmigian Fleurier Bugatti Aerolithe Performance feel when you're up-close?
Our macro pics allow you to fully appreciate the dial’s manufacturing; it is quite impressive and it is one of the strengths and reasons why this Aerolithe is something different from its predecessors. It is the first heir to the success that Parmigian Fleurier witnessed when it released the Concept Watch Sentine and, from an aesthetic point of view, it clearly shows the attention to details that no other chronograph can boast; it is a timepiece that needs to be looked at through a magnifying glass to fully appreciate what a delicate laser hand can actually achieve. Pricing? 22900 USD.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)
Gaetano C @Horbiter