Few modern items have as strong a synergy as cars and watches. Today we’ll look at a pair of hyper-watches made specifically for two of the greatest hyper-cars of the decade: the Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari and the Parmigiani Fleurier Type 390 Bugatti Chiron.
Hublot launched its official partnership with Ferrari back in 2011 and since the Nyon-based manufacture has launched an array of thoughtfully designed watches, all created to match certain Ferrari cars and, of course, the taste of both companies’ shared clientele.
Parmigiani Fleurier, on the other hand, is a brand with a much, much smaller marketing footprint, but nevertheless boasts the longest standing partnership between a watch brand and a carmaker with the 13-year collaboration with Bugatti. And it is also true the other way around: Bugatti says Parmigiani is actually its most consistent and, again, longest standing partner.
Although both brands have each paid tribute to their respective carmaking partners with a range of watches, today we will focus on the most impressive and complicated flagship watches, each inspired by a flagship automobile.
A hybrid supercar, the LaFerrari is the crowning achievement for Ferrari, in terms of performance, technology, styling and even price (at retail, and not vintage). It deserved an equally daring timepiece to match and if you know watches you’ll know that you can definitely count on Hublot to do that.
The horological LaFerrari made its debut in 2012, boasting a whopping 50-day power reserve, thanks to its engine-block movement with 11 barrels. It is stunning design blended with absolutely exceptional, ultra-high-end engineering technology.
The uncased, fully assembled movement alone measures 45.8 by 39.5mm, making the calibre alone as large as an ordinary wristwatch. It’s made up of 637 components, with a total of 108 jewels, many of them visible, serving as rollers that secure the rotation of the barrels.
Equally large is the 14.50mm diameter of the tourbillon, which caps the end of the 11 barrels arranged in a tube. Together the barrels and tourbillon make for a stack of 12 cylinders, meant to invoke the famous V12 engine.
Hours, minutes and power reserve are all displayed via anodized black aluminium cylinders with Super-Luminova markings, while the time can be set via what Hublot calls “an ergonomic time-setting system under the case middle”.
The element that truly indicates just how over the top the MP-05 is: an electric winding tool designed resemble the pneumatic air gun or “wheel gun” that a pit crew uses to quickly replace tires on Formula 1 cars. Here the winding gun makes it easy to reach the 50-day power reserve by winding the 11 serially coupled barrels – winding them by hand would result in some sore fingers for sure.
Not long after Bugatti unveiled its monster, 1500bhp Chiron – it goes from zero to 60mph in just 2.4 seconds – Parmigiani Fleurier launched the Type 390. The third in the watchmaker’s series of Bugatti timepieces, the Type 390 is true to form, being another highly unusual form wristwatch inspired by driving, or “wedge”, watches of the 1920s and 1930s.
Like the very first Bugatti watch, the Type 390 has most of the movement constructed as a cylinder, with gears stacked on top of each other, with a flying tourbillon at one end.
What is totally new in the Type 390 is how the time display has moved from the end of the cylinder onto a flat, angled panel that sits perpendicular to the cylindrical movement. While on earlier models the end of the cylinder was facing the wearer, now it sits parallel with the further edge of the wrist. Together the give the watch case a shape resembling the wing of the Chiron.
The movement, aptly called PF390, is yet another Parmigiani masterpiece with a wide range of high-tech solutions which nevertheless respect the strict codes of fine watchmaking.
Power is delivered through the cylinder in a very linear way: next to the crown we have the power reserve indicator, followed by two co-axial barrels with a torque limiter. Together they give the watch 80 hours of power reserve.
Throughout this highly unique going train, Parmigiani uses three planetary gear trains to replace the traditional wheel-pinion connections found in nearly all mechanical watches, a feat the brand says is a first in watchmaking. Each of these three planetary gear trains is equipped with a central train wheel, three planetary gears and a metallized fixed ring gear.
This brand new planetary gear train uses the smallest ball bearing in the world: just 1.28mm in diameter, containing 12 ceramic balls each measuring 0.2mm in diameter.
We could go on and on about how technically and aesthetically advanced and impressive these watches are but the point perhaps is something that goes beyond these two hyper watches: having the chops to secure partnerships with the world’s finest carmakers is insufficient, a bona fide watchmaker also needs the in-house know-how to create watches that do the cars justice – a rare feat.
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Victor Toth – Czech Republic
Victor Toth is a Prague-based, professional photographer-turned-watch enthusiast and freelance journalist, whose journey into the complex world of fine watchmaking had begun a number of years ago. Over this time it has become his passion to share his understanding of the finer details of beautiful timepieces, all in an effort to encourage a more thorough appreciation of this wonderful and complex universe of fine mechanics.