There are moments in life when the things that we see etch themselves forever into the essence of our beings. Time slows, sound fades, and there is nothing but whatever it is that has busied itself in the pursuit of altering whatever remains of our existence.

So it must have been for Jean Bugatti, when the first Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic roared to life for the very first time. Much more than just a car, the Atlantic was the dusk of the joy of the 1930s, a monument to elegance and craftmanship as Europe spiralled into darkness.

Of the four Atlantics that were produced, only two remain, and rightly stake their claim amongst the most prized automotive in the world. But it is with one Atlantic in particular that we take great interest, owned by none other than car collector, and fashion designer, Ralph Lauren.

A winner of the best car at the world’s most prestigious car show, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the $40m Bugatti is entirely flawless. Taken into his ownership, Lauren entrusted the last Atlantic into the hands of Paul Russell & Co, commissioning a full rebuild to restore it to its 1938 glory.

And so it is no surprise that the luxury brand’s horological tribute to Jean Bugatti’s creation is as breathtaking as its inspiration. The prize of his Automotive Collection, the 45mm Skeleton Steel Watch encircles the wrist with black alligator leather that closes in on a shot-blasted black stainless steel. An amboyna burl wood bezel is secured with six polished screws, reminiscent of the sleek, wooden steering wheel.

And easily seen through the Skeleton’s sapphire crystal front and back is the RL1967–caliber mechanical movement that, with each of its 18,000 vibrations per hour, pays tribute to the incredible performance of the 1937 Atlantic.

Inside the case is a galvanic, matte black dial, spurred by oxidised, black, sword-shaped hour and minute hands tipped in era-appropriate Super-LumiNova®. And below, a seconds subdial at the 6 o’clock embossed with white Arabic numerals.

Sophisticated, dark and stripped bare to the very essence of its beauty and power, the Skeleton is a ethereal acknowledgement of the calm before the storm of the mid-20th Century that shook humanity to its core.

But throughout, hope and love and beauty endured, and always will, as passion does, for design, for life, and for the open road.