A watch case made completely out of sapphire crystal is one of the top achievements in contemporary high watchmaking. There are few watchmakers capable of producing a totally transparent case made entirely of sapphire crystal and even fewer willing to go through the time-consuming and costly effort of producing such a case. Jacob & Co. is one of the few. The Bugatti Chiron Blue Sapphire Crystal is the result of several months of preparation that began with developing ways to adapt the unique design of the Bugatti Chiron watchcase to sapphire crystal. After the design and manufacturing techniques were formulated, it took months of materials processing, high-level machining and hand polishing to produce a case that exposes every one of the 578 hand-decorated and hand-assembled components of the JCAM37 manual wound calibre. This includes the exclusive fully automated engine suspended inside the case. Creating the manufacturing procedures alone required years of development and continues to undergo constant improvements.
The sapphire used for the case is synthetic, created in-house from aluminium oxide that is turned into a powder. This powder is heated to temperatures reaching 2,200 degrees Celsius. This causes the aluminium oxide to crystallize into pieces of raw sapphire. It’s vital that the material doesn’t melt but it forms a sinter on a pedestal that immediately solidifies. Layers of this material are added until carrot-shaped pieces are formed. From there the sapphire is shaped into blocks through a proprietary process.
To create colour, the manufacturer adds a proprietary combination of rare earth elements, metals and other minerals in a process called “doping.” But to get a full case in an intense blue colour more agents are added. This increases the chance that the sapphire crystal will lose its chemical stability. It’s a balancing act, and sometimes the process is repeated multiple times until the proper hue is created, adding to the manufacturing costs.
The completed sapphire block is then cut into a size that will become the body of the watch. The real challenge begins when shaping the block into the Chiron watch case. In the beginning the process is automated. This procedure, already difficult, is even more challenging because of the unique tonneau-shaped Chiron case, which measures 57.8mm by 44.4mm. It isn’t a singular surface but consists of a mix of geometric surfaces, including cylindrical, spherical, and curved shapes, and the horseshoe-shaped end that replicates the iconic Bugatti grille.
Then there’s the hardness of sapphire. It measures 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Very few materials are harder, including diamond, which measures 10. Because of this, diamond cutting and polishing tools are used to craft the case.
The most important step in the process is the polishing. This creates the smoothness and transparency of the sapphire. Because of the delicacy of the operation and the multiple steps, this is done by hand. Each case can take anywhere from 80 to 120 hours to polish. However, there’s also the caseback, the top, the three crowns, the horseshoe-shaped Bugatti grille and other pieces that are all cut and polished separately to exact measurements and the same level of transparency. Every shape of every piece has a different polishing process. The angles to polish the exteriors and interiors of the case are different. But the quality, including the transparency, must be consistent throughout. In addition, as the case becomes smoother the artisan must gradually reduce the coarseness of the diamond polishing tools. This is also a proprietary production process.
Throughout the polishing procedure there are dangers. Pieces can detach. Even with its extreme hardness, sapphire can break because the harder the material, the less elasticity it has. In addition, “optical deformation” can occur, which is basically streaks and other optical inclusions usually due to the use of substandard tools and poor polishing techniques.
If any of these things occur, then the months-long process begins again.
If everything goes as planned, then you have a sleek and perfectly transparent and colourful sapphire case that reveals every aspect of the Bugatti Chiron movement, including its groundbreaking engine and the one-minute tourbillon.
The Concept of the Watch
The Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron Blue Sapphire Crystal timepiece is a continuation of a collection that combines the DNA of both the hyper sports car manufacturer and the luxury jewellery and watch brand. The idea of creating a sapphire case for the watch was to provide a full view of all the 578 hand-decorated and hand-assembled components of the JCAM37 manual wound calibre.
This includes the exclusive fully functional replica of the Bugatti W16 engine. The engine is suspended within the watch case by four pillars that look like Chiron shock absorbers. Activated on demand, the “engine” comes to life with 16 pistons pumping and two turbochargers spinning. Other details in the exceptional movement include a whirling 60-second flying tourbillon on a 30-degree incline visible through a replica of the horseshoe-shaped Bugatti grille.
The Bugatti Chiron collection started with an idea conceived by Jacob & Co. and Bugatti to reproduce the visceral sensation of the iconic Bugatti W16 engine in a timepiece. Everything in the watch is designed in honour of the Bugatti Chiron hyper sports car.
The unique, streamline case that was so difficult to recreate in sapphire crystal is inspired by the flowing line of Chiron. The “engine block,” is intended to duplicate the Bugatti W16 engine. It operates on demand with a beautiful display of an engine in action. It is the first time a fully functioning car engine animation appears in a luxury watch. The movement is suspended by screws designed to replicate shock absorbers. Even the power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock is specifically designed to replicate a universal gas pump symbol. The back of the watch is designed to look like a car dashboard with two crowns and a pusher that winds the watch, sets the time, and activates the engine animation.
Create, Invent and Construct
The Bugatti and Jacob & Co. partnership was inaugurated in 2019 to create unique, never-before-seen timepieces that are true to the spirit of both companies, while taking watchmaking to impossible heights.
Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron Blue Sapphire Crystal Technical Specifications
Ref. BU210.80.AM.UA.BBRUA – Pièce Unique
- Calibre: Manufacture Jacob&Co. Manual Winding JCAM37
- Size: 41.7x36mm
- Height: 15.60mm
- Components: 578
- Jewels: 51
- Shock Protection System: Incabloc
- Power Reserve: 60h
- Frequency: 21’600 vib/h (3Hz)
- Hours, Minutes
- 1 minute Tourbillon cage 30° inclined (diamond on top)
- “W16 engine” in a sapphire block
- Animation on demand (pusher on the right) creating a rotation of pistons and crankshaft
- Power Reserve Indicator at 9 o’clock
- Size: 57.8×44.4mm
- Height: 21.5mm
- Material: Anti-Reflective Blue Sapphire Crystal
- Caseback: Blue Sapphire Crystal
- Crowns and Pushers: Blue Sapphire Crystal and 18K Rose Gold
- Water resistance: 30m (3atm)
- EB logo; Blue Index; Rose Gold Hands with blue tips
- Winding & Time Setting:
- Left stem: Time setting
- Central stem: Movement Winding (clockwise) and animation (counter clockwise)
Strap & Clasp
- Strap: Rubber
- Clasp: 18K Rose Gold and Titanium Deployment Buckle
About Jacob & Co.
“Inspired by the Impossible”
Founded by Jacob Arabo in 1986, Jacob & Co. creates revolutionary timepieces and exquisite jewellery that have captivated celebrities and notables from the watchmaking world and dazzled on fashion’s red carpets and cover shoots. With a unique talent for creating designs that are as innovative as they are spectacular, the company has grown into one of the most recognized luxury brands in timepieces and jewellery.
At the heart of the company is the passion, drive and creative force of Mr. Arabo. With a respect for traditional craftsmanship and artistry and an ability to envision and realize exquisite jewelry and unique timepieces, he makes the truly extraordinary a reality through the alchemy of edge and elegance.
For more information please visit: www.jacobandco.com
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