t started with an idea conceived by Jacob & Co. together with Bugatti – how to reproduce the visceral sensation of the iconic Bugatti 16-cylinder engine in a timepiece.
After almost a full year of development, the answer is here in the form of the Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon. Everything is designed to honour the Chiron in a timepiece. The case is inspired by the flowing lines of the Chiron and the movement, or “engine block,” intended to duplicate the Bugatti engine, is placed under a massive sapphire crystal, on display for all to see.
Here’s where it gets interesting: push the right-hand crown of the timepiece and the engine comes to life – the crankshaft turns and the pistons pump up and down, just like a true internal combustion engine. Two “turbochargers” (down from four in the actual Chiron engine) on the side of the engine block spin while the engine runs, adding to the visual impact.
Incredible to see and unbelievably complicated to realize (the movement is comprised of 578 components), the Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon timepiece has done something no one has ever even attempted before – to seamlessly marry engines and watches.
First off, the incredible flying tourbillon movement is a completely clean-sheet design. Jacob & Co. has been working with its movement suppliers for more than a year to realize this spectacular piece.
The top and sides of the watch are sapphire crystal, making every single facet of the watch visible. Most captivating, of course, is the engine block animation. The crankshaft driving this is one of the smallest and most complicated watch parts ever manufactured, made out of one solid steel piece. The pistons, challenging to fabricate in their own right, are mounted onto the crankshaft at varying angles to maximize the show.
The movement is completely suspended in four places, with what looks like actual automobile shocks from the Chiron. The movement is, in fact, floating inside the case — you can see it move up and down inside. Framing the engine block are two “exhausts,” completing the engine theme of the design.
Aside from the animation, the general theme is less is more. Beyond the flying tourbillon with the Jacob & Co. logo, the only other branding anywhere on the front of the watch is the subtle EB logo on the engine compartment, where the crankshaft holds 16 pistons, poised and ready for action.
The entire watch is oriented to showcase the spectacular movement, facing it forwards so you can show your friends the 30º inclined tourbillon and the animation. The window to the tourbillon is modeled after the iconic horseshoe grill of Bugatti hypercars.
The crowns for the watch are at the bottom of the case – the left crown sets the time, the middle crown winds both the movement (60 hours of power reserve) and the animation, and a push of the right-hand crown starts the animation.
The suspension of the movement caused an additional challenge for the movement designers, as they had to create (and patent) a special automotive-style transverse system so the crown posts aren’t damaged by the movement going up and down inside the case.
The power reserve for the animation and the power reserve for timekeeping are different, yet both are wound through the winding crown, clockwise for the movement, counterclockwise for the engine animation. The power reserve indication even has the universal gas pump symbol on the side of the gauge at three o’clock.
The Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon from Jacob & Co. is a world-first — a true engine on the wrist.
Fun Fact: The Bugatti Chiron hypercar is named after Louis Chiron, an Equipe Bugatti member and one of the greatest pre-World War II drivers.