Perhaps the most acclaimed automotive badge in the world has been used to promote the Bugatti brand for the last 110 years, and the illustrious French crest has evolved like a fine wine over time.
Utilising the finest of embossing techniques and crafted from 150 grams of sterling silver, the famous Bugatti ‘Macaron’ badge symbolises exclusivity, quality and craftsmanship but is it the most famous?
It was the illustrious Type 13 that was first to wear the enamelled crest on its ‘horseshoe’ radiator grille towards the end of 1909 – the first official Bugatti.
The importance that the Bugatti ‘Macaron’ still has for our brand today is shown by its unrivalled quality, the loving attention to detail, and also the weight.
It is one of the very few components on our vehicles where weight does not play a role. The solid badge made of 970 sterling silver has a very high-quality design due to its size, and this is more important to us than a lightweight component. The deep-red and unmistakable oval on the vehicle has transported the famous name BUGATTI out into the world ever since the company began and embodies the symbolic power of our brand myth.
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The idea for the oval shape with white lettering on a red background originated from Ettore Bugatti himself. He had already developed a similar logo for his previous employer Deutz in Cologne.
When he started his own vehicle production, Bugatti intentionally chose a flat, high-quality brand badge. According to the design instructions, the shape formed by cutting a cylinder with a diameter of 45 mm at an angle of 30 degrees.
The popular and almost inflationary use of radiator figures at the time would have only spoiled the design of his vehicles. The only exception remains the dancing elephant on the Bugatti Type 41 Royale from 1926 – this is a replica of and tribute to a sculpture created by his deceased brother Rembrandt.
In addition to the easily legible name lettering in white on a red background, the badge also features the initials EB (for Ettore Bugatti) above this in black, as well as 60 red dots on a white surrounding border. Red stands for power and passion, white for elegance and nobility, and black for excellence and courage.
According to the legend, the 60 dots symbolise pearls or threads in a style that conformed to the “Art Nouveau” fashion. In those days, they were used as splints to produce a permanent connection on mechanical parts – and the reliability and durability of his vehicles was something that was always very close to Ettore Bugatti’s heart during his lifetime.
For the past 17 years, the emblems of the modern Bugatti era have been handcrafted at the ‘Poellath GmbH & Co. KG Münz – und Prägewerk’ in Schrobenhausen, Bavaria. The company has been producing the handcrafted emblems for Bugatti since 2003, initially for the Veyron 16.4. Development of the Macaron for the Chiron1 started in 2014.
Including the enamel and the fastening screws, the emblem weighs an impressive 159 grams. Around 20 skilled workers from different departments at Poellath work on the exclusive component for a total of around ten hours spread over several days. The 970 silver base metal is embossed several times with up to 1,000 tonnes as part of a multi-stage process. The Bugatti lettering is raised from the base by 2.1 mm at the level of the border.
In contrast to casting methods, the contours achieved by embossing are much sharper and of much higher quality – provided that the right tools are used. After embossing, the emblem passes through the enamelling process.
Enamel is glass that has been fused onto iron, a manufacturing process that goes back over a hundred years. One of the very special challenges when developing the Macaron was the specification that the enamel used had to be free of toxic materials. Half of the enamel typically used before consisted of lead. The enamel now used is made of inorganic compounds such as silicates and oxides, which makes processing significantly more demanding and fuses with the silver when melted.
Only the raised glass-like compound can then be sanded, finely sanded and polished by hand, while being repeatedly checked during this process. Finally, the fastening studs made specially out of one piece are brazed on and the surface is checked once more. Incidentally, the fine, unavoidable pores in the enamel are not a defect, but show the uniqueness of the manufacturing process and make each individual badge a unique one-off.
No machine is capable of doing this due to the different curvatures and the surfaces located at the back. The individual dots are also enamelled and processed by hand.
Car mascots began to emerge when new owners thought their adornment would bring good luck, which ultimately led to Rolls-Royce asking Charles Sykes to design something for them, hence the birth of the now legendary Spirit of Ecstasy.
Inspiration was driven from Eleanor Thornton who was the personal secretary and mistress of John, Lord Montagu. Eleanor later died in the tragic sinking of SS Persia, while John was one of the few survivors.