The luxury industries are difficult to define at the best of times. However, if one was to attempt to define them, it would most probably be best served by a sense of constant betterment; by the idea that there is no such thing as “too much”, that limits of beauty, elegance, and often outrageous decadence exist to be overcome, and that there will always be a demand for more style, more substance, and more innovation.
The success and wonderment that the Niniette 66 has achieved means, of course, that this is merely to be the first chapter in a series of superyachts
This certainly seems to be the concept behind the Bugatti Ninette 66—the first in what is to be a line of highly fascinating, deeply elegant, and paradigm-busting Bugatti superyachts. A thing of rare beauty, the Niniette really does look exactly what you’d imagine a Bugatti yacht to look like: a floating Veyron, boasting those distinctively seductive curves, and the visible suggestion of awesome power lurking beneath that smooth and flawless surface.
That Bugatti has decided to steer its way into the superyacht market doesn’t come as much of a surprise. If anything, it’s surprising that it took them until 2017 to really take the notion seriously. CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer once claimed that the “average” Bugatti owner (if indeed the word “average” could be applied here) possesses 84 other cars, two private jets… and a superyacht. The thinking was—we can imagine—that if such a person does have a hankering for their own aquatic craft, why not one built by Bugatti?
They’re in good company, though. The luxury market in 2018 is being dominated by crossovers, as luxury brands are teaming up with their peers in order to get their foot into different yet complementary industries. The dynamic between the high-end car market and the superyacht scene is, if anything, the most natural of these crossovers: Both supercars and superyachts are defined by their barrier-breaking innovations, their ambitions to reach the zeniths of comfort, extravagance, and power. Aston Martin’s AM37 powerboat became a runaway success, and Porsche also launched their (literal) flagship last year in the shape of the GTT 115 Hybrid Yacht.
A thing of rare beauty, the Niniette really does look exactly what you’d imagine a Bugatti yacht to look like
It would be fair to say, however, that the Porsche and Aston Martin efforts—despite being deeply impressive in their own rights—don’t quite manage to achieve the same level of sheer awe-inspiring wonder that Bugatti has managed to hit. The Niniette isn’t just a superyacht with a Bugatti badge whacked onto the helm… it’s a natural extension of what Bugatti does best, and there’s no way on earth that this vessel could have been made by any other brand. The signature colors, the sweeping lines, the balance of ferocity and sophistication; it’s an incredible feat of engineering and design, and there’s little doubt in the superyacht industry that this boat is going to be a significant point of inspiration for other brands to follow.
An Ideal Partnership
Of course, the Niniette wasn’t a solo venture by Bugatti—even for a brand as ambitious and innovative as this one, to create a yacht without calling in the experts would be a step too far. Bugatti reportedly spent a significant amount of time considering which boat designer to work alongside, and eventually settled on the very sensible choice that was Palmer Johnson. This is a boat builder par excellence and one which has dominated the luxury end of the industry since the 1970s, completing such legendary vessels as the 65-meter Lady M, the 48-meter Khalilah, and earlier successes like The Pearl back in the ’90s. With their peerless panache, eye for detail, and reputation for sheer bravery and gusto when it comes to bold new designs, the announcement that Palmer Johnson and Bugatti were to work together had the yacht industry salivating with anticipation.
That Bugatti has decided to steer its way into the superyacht market doesn’t come as much of a surprise
According to all accounts, the construction process was relatively smooth, with design teams from both Bugatti and Palmer Johnson being in clear agreement from the start on what the Niniette 66 was going to be all about. The idea from the beginning was to bring iconic Bugatti cars like the Veyron and the Chiron into the sea, to explore the concept and the bodywork of those vehicles, and approach every aspect of the shipbuilding with the shape and “feel” of the car as a starting point. It was to feel ultra-modern and yet familiarly vintage at the same time and to combine speed and lightness with a quiet menace, a sense of solidity. To say it was a roaring success on all fronts would be something of an understatement indeed.
Power and Design
The Bugatti Niniette 66 is made almost entirely from carbon fiber—something less common than you might imagine in the world of superyachts. However, there’s a clear reason for this… and that’s speed. It would be unimaginable for this supercar brand to get involved with a vessel which doesn’t pack a major punch when cutting through the waves, and the Niniette 66 has a top speed of 44 knots, thanks to the V8 engines it is packing. That’s a blisteringly high speed for moving across the open water, and yet forthcoming models from the partnership are claiming to be able to smash even that remarkable velocity.
Of course, much of the interest in this dream machine is directed toward what lies beneath that beautifully shaped hull. Superyacht interiors are rarely anything less than fascinating, as they give top designers a real challenge: How does one work in a relatively confined space, pile in the luxury and distinctiveness, and put your own stamp on the interior design of these vessels? As one might expect, the Bugatti Niniette 66 does not disappoint when it comes to the living and leisure quarters within: it boasts a fire pit for cozy evenings, an Italian marble bathroom, a Champagne bar for entertaining guests, and an on-board jacuzzi, too. That’s just the basics, though—as with all Bugatti releases, the amount of scope for personalization and modification is enormous, and their website currently allows you to configure your own Niniette and explore the options available. If money is no object, the possibilities of what you can do with this boat are almost endless.
What’s in a Name?
If you’re curious about the name of this new vessel, you wouldn’t be alone—quite a few people have raised their eyebrows at this decidedly feminine and “cute” moniker which feels a world apart from the quasi-mythological names usually chosen by Bugatti. However, the name “Niniette” actually harks back to an interesting chapter in the Bugatti story. Back in the 1930s, the brand was commissioned by Prince Ruspoli to build a speedboat. Founding father of Bugatti, Ettore Bugatti, delivered the speedboat… and named it after his young granddaughter, Niniette, who loved to be on the water. The fact that this name has returned with the brand’s first dedicated seaworthy vessel is really rather lovely.
The success and wonderment that the Niniette 66 has achieved means, of course, that this is merely to be the first chapter in a series of superyachts and an ongoing partnership with Palmer Johnson. The yachting industry has proven itself to be incredibly robust and recession-proof, and also highly appealing to a new generation of super-rich adventurers, meaning the demand is expected to rise and rise. Already, two more yachts are in development—30 versions of the PJ 48 Niniette and PJ 63 Niniette have been pre-ordered—with a contract valued at $40,000,000. With figures like that and the near-universal praise this partnership has brought about, it’s clear the voyage of Bugatti as a yachting brand is just getting started.