The Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon - A watch with a W16 Engine

The Chiron Tourbillon is not a new watch. It was introduced in April 2020, but it’s unique properties make it qualify for a piece under our Timepieces & Speed section that features watches associated with motorsport or fast cars. The section didn’t exist back then but this timepiece is too relevant to ignore.

Elijah D 11/12/2022
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Jacob & Co.'s W16 Tourbillon

When you think about the brands Bugatti and Jacob & Co., one word is likely to come to mind – "excess". Bugatti is known for producing some freakishly fast hypercars with price tags that will make even some wealthy individuals sweat. On the other hand, Jacob and Co. produce jewelry with artistry and fine craftsmanship that make it difficult to look away. It's no wonder the two inked a partnership back in 2019 to produce "one of a kind" timepieces that should have a captivating effect on the observer.

Since the start of the partnership, watches like the Epic X Chrono Bugatti, Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti, and Jean Bugatti timepiece have lived up to the goal both companies set. However, it is the Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon that really takes things to another level. One that will resonate with anyone who is fascinated by the inner workings of an internal combustion engine. While many may consider Jacob & Co. more of a high-end jeweler than a seasoned watchmaker, as far as time telling goes, the company is known for exquisite timepieces and alluring automaton watches. These include the Opera Godfather minute repeater, the Scarface Opera, the Oil Pump watch, and various examples from the company's Astronomia collection.

Regardless of what you think of Jacob & Co.'s timepieces, this watch will likely strike a chord with anyone with a love for fast cars. There's no denying the fact that the watch is exceptional. The timepiece's automaton incorporates movement that mimics the inner workings of the W16 Bugatti engine with mind-blowing detail. Clearly, the objective of the project wasn't to build a complication in the traditional fashion but to build an automaton that is detail oriented, fascinating, and unique in more ways than one.

Jacob & Co.'s W16 Tourbillon

Let's examine the details of this work of art. The top of the case is a massive sapphire crystal that takes design elements from the shape of the Bugatti Chiron. The rest of the case comes in different finishes, including rose gold, polished titanium, and full sapphire crystal. It encloses the miniature W16 engine, which is fully suspended by four "shock absorbers" with coil springs finished in what appears to be La Vie En Blue (French Racing Blue).

The watch comes with three crowns. The left one is used to wind the watch, while the middle one is for changing the time. The engine comes to life when you push the right-hand crown. The crankshaft rotates, and the pistons enclosed in sapphire cylinders move in the same way you'll observe in a combustion engine. The automaton also has two turbo-chargers visible (not four as you'll find on the real W16) on the side of the block, which spin around while the engine is "running".

In a way, this engine reminds me of a toy I used to own that had a transparent hood with an engine that had a similar piston movement (but significantly larger). Watching that movement was more captivating than playing with the car. Even Jacob Arabo (Co-CEO of Jacob and Co.) admits that the engineers who worked on the automaton were excited about it as it was seen as a toy worth bringing to life.

Jacob & Co.'s W16 Tourbillon

The watch has two power reserves. One for the engine animation and the other for timekeeping. At nine o'clock, you'll find a power reserve indicator complete with a universal gas pump symbol - a logical choice for a timepiece with an automotive theme.

The W16 automaton has 578 components. Couple that with the tiny size of some of these components, and the piece just gets more endearing. Here's where things get more interesting. At twelve o'clock, you’ll find the tourbillon, which is inclined at a 30-degree angle. Of course, it won't be a Jacob & Co. watch if it doesn't have diamonds, so the tourbillon is crowned with one. To enhance the Bugatti theme, right below twelve o'clock, is a transparent horseshoe that mimics the iconic Bugatti horseshoe grill along with the unmistakable Bugatti logo. This transparent horseshoe allows you to observe the tourbillon from a different angle. That's likely to be appreciated by tourbillon fans. Flip the watch over, and you can enjoy the view of the movement and further appreciate the details that make this timepiece so special.

Automaton watches may not be for everyone as the additional parts aren't strictly necessary. However, like the tourbillon, these parts can be hypnotic and are certainly appreciated when there's clear evidence that a lot of work went into bringing it to life. The Chiron Tourbillon is a wonderful example of this.


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