Jacob & Co.’s new Bugatti tourbillon watch has a functioning V-16 engine

By Allen Farmelo 5 July, 2024
the Bugatti and Jacob & Co Tourbillon watch

In conjunction with the release of the Italian builder’s new tourbillon supercar comes an avant-garde watch

Tourbillon is French for whirlwind, a fitting name for the clever rotating balance spring found in so many high-end watches, and now tourbillon is the name of the most powerful Bugatti supercar to date. Today, Jacob & Co. announced a watch to go with the car.

We reported on the car, noting the claimed 1,800 hp delivered from a naturally aspirated V-16 engine. We also noted the car’s dashboard cluster, which integrates over 600 components (many made from titanium), a skeletonised “dial” configuration, and sapphire glass covering it all.

You’d think we had been describing a watch, and using the horological arts on dashboards of luxury cars has been only rarely replicated in modern times (Heuer and Jaeger-LeCoultre commonly built mechanical dashboard instruments in the early and mid-20th century). Last year, both Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin created dashboard instruments for Rolls Royce, for example, but generally, this is a rare art.

Dashboard of Bugatti car in collaboration with Jacob & Co.
Photo by Bugatti

Automotive watches, on the other hand, often feel a little “on the nose.” Dials become speedometers, hood badges are blatantly emblazoned on cases, straps, and dials, or signature car colours are lazily woven into the watch design. Much more difficult is to recreate aspects of the actual automotive machinery, which Jacob & Co. already accomplished in the watch created to go with Bugatti’s Chiron in 2020. What sets this Bugatti Tourbillon collaboration apart is the car’s horological dashboard cluster, and the incredible machinery inside the watch that recreates the V16 engine. This is no longer a one-way car imitation; this is a ground-up, two-way conversation between brands.

the Tourbillon watch, a collaboration between Bugatti and Jacob & Co
Photo by Jacob & Co

The 52 x 44 mm watch is housed in a case that imitates the grille, cooling inlets, and other shapes of the car’s exterior. The instrument cluster is well imitated, as well, and includes the 30-second flying tourbillon. But it’s inside the movement that the watch goes beyond the usual plays of automotive collabs. Here we find the V-16 engine block. This is an operable mechanical automaton, a “complication” for which Jacob & Co. is well known, along with the likes of Van Cleef & Arpels, Jaquet Droz, and now Chanel. The engine block is cut from a single piece of sapphire. Retrograde hour and minute indicators imitate the tachymeter and speedometer.

Availability and pricing are yet to be announced.

This story was first published in Robb Report USA