The grille of a Bugatti Type 57 Atalante is wonderfully referenced within the design of the Parmigiani Bugatti Atalante fly-back chronograph.
Ettore Bugatti was the Italian founder of the brand that bears his name. The company was launched in 1909 and produced its legendary cars in Molsheim, Alsace.
A red oval badge adorned these cars which were made without compromise. They were noted for their graceful lines, wheel arches which concamerated the tyres in flowing harmony.
The price was too regal for some royalty, the famed Bugatti Royale being beyond the financial grasp of many royal courts. Ultimately, the brand would disappear for a period of time, but thankfully returned in 2005, courtesy of the vast resources of the Volkswagen Group.
Today, the Bugatti name features on ethereal performance cars, produced to the highest specification, coveted by petrol-heads around the globe.
Those of a nostalgic persuasion will always look fondly at the early Bugatti models. It is the Bugatti Atalante 57S which provided the inspiration for Parmigiani Fleurier’s beautiful chronograph.
The Bugatti Type 57 Atalante was designed by Ettore’s son, Jean Bugatti, and was produced from 1934 to 1940, a two-door car available in standard form or with lowered suspension, Type 57S. It embraced aerodynamics with its swooping shapes, cheating the wind of its daily diet of resistance.
The grille of the car featured vertical strips of highly polished metal which would glint in the sun as the fortunate owner exploited the car’s prodigious talents on the road. The grille is echoed in the design of this beautiful timepiece by Parmigiani Fleurier, high-end Swiss practitioner of haute horology.
A silver coloured openworked dial is the first thing that engages admiring eyes. It enchants with the vertical bars reminiscent of the aforementioned car grille. Moreover, it tantalises the horological voyeur with a partial view of the naked form of the movement.
Rose gold delta shaped hour and minute hands, lined with white lumnious coating, succinctly impart the time.
At 3 o’clock, a 30 minute chrono-counter features. Surrounding the chrono-counter is a rose gold tachymeter scale suitable for timing slow events such as walking or running.
The Bugatti logo is located at 6 o’clock, presented in rose gold. Adjacent to this is an isosceles triangle, again of rose gold, used to indicate the date. The date is charmingly presented featuring a disc which revolves beneath the grille, allowing the wearer to partly see the mechanical mastery.
A subsidiary seconds hand is located at 9 o’clock. An aspect of the design language which I adore is the tasteful use of different coloured metals to provide harmonious contrast. Nothing is garish or showy, all aspects work in concert, typical of other products bearing the EB logo.
A central chrono-seconds hand is lithe in form, aiding split second measurement of lap times on track.
The chapter ring features gold batons to indicate hours, black strokes to impart seconds and smaller markings to indicate 1/4 seconds.
A second tachymeter scale features on the rich gold bezel. The markings are calibrated for timing high-speed events.
The 43mm diameter case sat on my wrist wonderfully when I recently tried it on. The leather strap and rose gold deployant further enhanced the excellent wearer comfort.
An unusual aspect of the watch is that the chrono buttons are located on the left hand side of the case, opposite their usual place of residence. This is inspired, as it allows the thumb to be used for pressing the pushers. The thumb is the fastest acting finger, hence it makes a lot of sense on a watch capable of timing with split second accuracy.
This is no ordinary chronograph. It features a fly-back. This allows the chrono to be reset and started with the press of one pusher. However, the danger is the handsome pushers may be overlooked in the frenetic pace of timing a sporting event.
The pushers are highly polished, square in shape but with rounded corners. They sparkle in light and provide divergence from the satin brushed flanks of the case. I use the word divergence carefully as the reciprocity of the two finishes is superb.
Parmigiani have bestowed the watch with a sapphire crystal caseback to engage with fortunate owner. The craftsmanship which inhabits the case is breathtakingly beautiful and imparts a joy to any connoisseur of horology.
The PF 335 calibre is a self-winding movement evidenced by the august 22-carat gold rotor. The oscillating weight is expertly engraved and oozes quality from every angle.
The finissage is magnificent. Côtes de Genève decoration, circular graining on the plate and chamfered bridges are the product of human hands.
It is the fine attention to detail which distinguishes this watch. Two series-coupled barrels collaborate to provide the 50 hour power reserve. The 68 jewels reaffirm that this movement is a product of time-served perfection.
Bugatti is a magnificent marque, steeped in history and continues to make some of the finest cars on the road. They approached Parmigiani Fleurier and asked them to create a watch with the likeness of their remarkable cars.
Parmigiani have successfully crafted a watch which distills all that is wonderful about haute horology and delivers it in a pulchritudinous form that warms the heart.
The Parmigiani Bugatti Atalante fly-back chronograph harks back to an elegant era of car design but harnesses all that is sublime with modern haute horology know-how. There are few watches which can surpass the craftsmanship of this fine timepiece.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.