This Bugatti smartwatch feels like someone’s missed the point | Top Gear
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This Bugatti smartwatch feels like someone’s missed the point

Celebrating the pinnacle of mechanical engineering with a watch that uses none... makes perfect sense

Published: 19 Oct 2022

Why does one buy a Bugatti? 

Sure, the speed is definitely a factor – you don’t build a car like the Veyron or Chiron without piquing the interest of cashed-up speed demons. The luxury? Absolutely. To feel special? No question. To advertise immense wealth? Yeah, that probably has a part in there somewhere. But, unless we’re very much mistaken, a big part of Bugatti ownership – over any number of equally rapid EV hypercars – is to celebrate what can be achieved with moving mechanical parts. Which makes the Bugatti Carbone watch something of a conundrum: it has none. 

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Well, you could press the buttons on the side and they’d move... and we suppose there’s some movement of the molecules in the liquid crystal display. Oh, and electrons have to move because – unless we really nodded off in physics – that’s what electricity is. 

But in the conventional sense, in the ‘stored mechanical power being meted out through a complex escapement to measure elapsed time’ kind of way, you’re out of luck. The Carbone celebrates all things mechanical like we celebrate all things Masterchef: not once, not ever. 

So what, then, does the Bugatti Carbone watch offer? Well, a few Bugatti badges, which just seems like common sense. Water resistance down to 100 metres, which we’re tipping will never be tested in real-world conditions, for ‘rapture of the deep’ reasons. And, as befits a smartwatch, there are enough sensors, timers and trackers to make one wonder if we’ve just given up on the concept of privacy altogether. Oh, and an AMOLED touchscreen. 

As for something that relates to Bugatti beyond stamping its logo in a few places... well, that’s what the ‘Carbone’ relates to, apparently. In the official bumf, Bugatti credits the wonder material for the serious turns of speed that Molsheim’s finest are capable of, judiciously avoiding any reference to the eight-litre elephant in the room. 

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Carbon fibre definitely played a part in Bugatti’s characteristically ballistic automobiles – since the EB110, we might add – but we’d argue that the focus, singularity and the spirit of the reborn Bugatti centred around finding the ne plus ultra of internal combustion. And so a watch that celebrates Bugatti’s work with carbon fibre rather feels like celebrating Joe Pesci for his musical career. 

If we think about a manufacturer who could hang their hat on carbon fibre – presumably a pre-preg hook of some kind – it’s Pagani. Horacio knew what he was on to with composites all the way back in his Lamborghini days, and then made a virtue of various weaves (including carbo-tanium!) from that day on. By comparison, Bugatti’s association with carbon fibre is... limited, to say the least.

Speaking of limited, Bugatti says there’ll only be 2,500 Carbone editions made... but then rather fails to mention that that’s five times the number of Chirons ever built. Add in all the versions of the Veyron (another 450), Divo (add another 40), Bolide (40 more) and Centodieci (just 10) and there’s still nearly 1,500 available for non-Bugatti owners. Because after all, nothing is cooler than branded apparel for cars you don’t own, so go ahead and find £2,250 for a carbon-fibre Fitbit. 

Which brings us back, broadly enough, to where we started. Why does one buy a Bugatti? For any number of reasons, but probably not because it’s made of carbon fibre. So why does one buy the Bugatti Carbone? Erm...

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