Parmigiani pay tribute to an almost mythical car with the wholly handsome Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe.
The Parmigiani/Bugatti partnership is an extremely well-suited affiliation. Since 2001 Parmigiani have shown a considered approach to their Bugatti timepieces, demonstrating a meritorious attention to detail for even the minutiae.
In 1935 Bugatti unveiled a concept car, the Aerolithe, at the Paris Motor Show. It was as technical as it was stunning and its streamlined compendium of curves were created using a magnesium alloy - extremely lightweight and so frangible that its panels had to be riveted together externally creating a front to end dorsal seam that not only added to its charm, but became its signature feature. Alas it only made one appearance before it vanished only to be given the rather romantic, but wistful name of the "Lost Bugatti".
Parmigiani cases all feature generously curvy lugs, highly reminiscent of the Aerolithe's rounded profile but, the design of this piece still presented a challenge. The desired contrasting finishing which would be a key feature in order to recreate the streamlined styling of the Bugatti was not possible because the tools simply could not reach into the enclosed form of the case. The solution to this aesthetic conundrum was a technical one, a gap was created around the base of the case to allow the various finishing contrasts to be achieved, then afterwards a decorative ring was used to conceal the opening. Naturally Parmigiani draw comparisons to the the tricky construction solutions sought and found by the designers of the Aerolithe when it was first conceived.
The piece features a dial which Parmigiani describe as "Abyss Blue" and indeed images do suggest a deeply pelagic hue against which the vividity of red chronograph hands contrast to superb effect. The pushers for the flyback chronograph are located within the lugs at the 8 and 10 o'clock position allowing for thumb rather than fingertip operation and the white gold and titanium case has been slimmed down resulting in a sleeker profile.
In 2003 the movement manufacturing division of Parmigiani separated from the main business and was launched under the name Vaucher Manufacture. Hermès acquired 25% of Vaucher in 2006, a move which has helped La Montre Hermès become a serious player in the industry. In return the designers at Parmigiani can have their pick of some of the most luxurious leather straps in the world - no suprise then that this piece comes presented on a fine grained sapphire blue calfskin leather strap with just the right amount of contrasting red edging - and the minutaie? A perfect little Bugatti car grille-shaped buckle.
More Parmigiani in our archives.