In 2014, watch manufacturer Parmigiani Fleurier and automaker Bugatti collaborated to bring us the Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe Flyback Chronograph, to be honest, I felt it was rather nondescript and lacked enough design elements to truly make it a “Bugatti” themed watch. For SIHH 2017, the Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe Performance Flyback Chronograph is a completely different beast from what they first launched in 2014. For starters, you get a flyback chronograph with all the design details on the dial and case for USD22,900 versus USD27,000 which was a little “plain jane” (in Parmigiani’s defence: attraction is subjective ).
Hands-On Review: Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe Performance Flyback Chronograph
At a glance, the Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe Performance Flyback Chronograph looks like a thoroughbred watch. While the debut 2014 model was more Clark Kent, you know exactly what you’re getting with the new Bugatti Aerolithe Performance – you’re getting Superman – an impeccably finished, high performance modular flyback chronograph.
Case, Dial and Hands
Case execution of the new Bugatti Aerolithe Performance is flawless. Parmigiani is truly an integrated manufacture – it’s one thing to say you make 100% of the components as part of marketing puffery while hiding behind confidential vendor-supplier agreements but Parmigiani produces dials and cases in the supply side of the industry as well. The case is literally pleasing to the touch as you caress the polished bezel right down to the “dorsal seam” lugs reminiscent of a Bugatti Aerolithe car. Furthermore, like its brethren launched 3 years ago, the “in lug” chronograph pushers make a welcome return, matching the brushed finishing of the lug’s sides. You might wonder why I am making such a big deal over polished surfaces of a high horology timepiece; in this instance, it’s seriously not hyperbole, how many of you have actually seen a polished titanium case – it’s rarely (if ever) finished to a high shine, much less in alternating finishing techniques.
The case mid is jumping with texturous details as well, following the “waffle” check-mark aesthetics and matching the embossed pattern of the accompanying strap and dial. Overall, the mix of brushed and high polished finishing really lights up the case but the scene stealer is literally the dial.
The checkerboard dial is a personal favourite (which also explains why the author is a fan of Audemars Piguet), in this instance, the checkerboard isn’t just some nice, attention grabbing detail like AP’s tappiserie dial, it’s also a congruous design element found on a Bugatti Aerolithe’s carseats. Thus, the whole retro-futurist aesthetic follows rather comprehensively right down to the Delta-shaped hour and minute hands, the contrasting blue and red numeral fonts, again reminiscent various automobile-inspired speedometers and gauges. It’s worthy of note that the 60 minute sub-dial doesn’t carry the same pointer hand as the “speedometer” sub-seconds at 9 o’clock, while it might not have been intended, it is in keeping with the same design choice of 2 register chronographs in the 40s and 50s where the hands on each counter differed for purposes of legibility.
While not an integrated chronograph, Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe Performance Flyback Chronograph is driven by a proprietary PF335 movement with flyback chronograph module is finished in typical Côtes de Genève. An open-worked oscillating weight with Colimaçon decoration allows one to peer at the chamfered bridges and finished components beneath. In terms of finissage, Parmigiani is regarded as one of the best practitioners in the industry and it’s not difficult to see why – highly polished jewel sinks are yet another easily apparent of the high quality artisanship.
Exemplary finishing aside, chronograph actuation has a decidedly firm yet smooth feel. A firm push slides the push-piece into the lug and then springs back, setting the chronograph seconds swiftly spinning in one smooth sweep sans visible jitter. Meanwhile, fully wound, the Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe Performance Flyback Chronograph runs for 50 hours.
A flyback chronograph with enhanced design details on the dial and case for USD22,900 or USD7000 less than the original Bugatti Flyback Chronograph was priced? The new Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe Performance makes a compelling value-proposition in rarely seen high polished and brushed titanium casing with retro-futuristic appeal.