The Mind-Blowing Process Behind Bugatti’s Handcrafted Silver Badge
Ettore Bugatti’s “Macaron” badge has been with the brand for 110 years.
It weighs 5.29 ounces. It's made from 970-grade sterling silver that's embossed several times with up to 1,100 tons of force. It's the enameled oval badge known as the Macaron, and on the Chiron, you find the modern equivalent of what company founder Ettore Bugatti attached to his first official Bugatti car in late 1909, the Type 13. Here's all you need to know about the only part of a modern Bugatti made with no consideration towards its weight.
Before coming up with the Macaron, Ettore Bugatti designed a somewhat similar logo for his previous employer, the engine manufacturer Deutz of Cologne, Germany. For his own badge, Ettore cut a cylinder with a diameter of 45 millimeters at an angle of 30 degrees to end up with a flat oval that didn't compromise his horseshoe grilles like a radiator figure would have. Acknowledging their pre-war popularity, Bugatti finally put a dancing elephant on the Bugatti Type 41 Royale in 1926, which happens to be a replica of a sculpture created by his deceased brother, Rembrandt.
Bugatti's Macaron features the founder's initials in black, as well as 60 red dots on a white surrounding border. According to Bugatti, red stands for power and passion, white for elegance and nobility, and black for excellence and courage. There's also the legend that the 60 dots symbolize pearls or threads in a style that conformed to the period's Art Nouveau fashion.
While Ettore hadn't changed much in terms of the badge's design, past his and Romano Artioli's era, it was Volkswagen's turn to take a look at it. The Germans took over the brand in 1998, only to revamp the Macaron for Ferdinand Piëch's upcoming Veyron 16.4. It was decided that a 3D effect had to be achieved, with the badge being produced by Bavaria's Poellath GmbH & Co. KG Münz- und Prägewerk for over 15 years now. Founded in 1778, Poellath makes its own tooling for the Bugatti job, with the Macarons made by the hands of around 20 skilled workers.
What's starting out as a chunk of 970-grade silver is embossed several times by a huge hydraulic press, so that the Bugatti lettering can be raised from the base by 2.1 mm at the level of the border. This gives the badge that three-dimensional look with much sharper contours all across. Enamel is glass that's been fused onto iron, and Bugatti's is free of toxic materials. What used to be lead is now made with inorganic compounds such as silicates and oxides, with the grains of the granulate melting between 1,380 and 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit to create a permanent bond with the silver base. What's fascinating is that at such temperatures, the typical convex curvature of the emblem occurs on its own, due to the 0.5-millimeter thick enamel layer solidifying at 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit while the silver underneath continues to contract, further enhancing the desired 3D effect.
Once cooled, the raised enamel gets finely sanded and polished by hand before the fastening studs can be brazed on. Due to the pores in the enamel, Bugatti sees each badge as a unique piece.
What's for sure is that what Bugatti has been using since 2016 for the Chiron is the largest Macaron ever, since even compared to the Veyron's, the current badge has been increased in width by 14 millimeters and in height by 8 millimeters. Not to mention that now, one can also get it in black...
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