Luxury

Bulgari: Slim fit at Baselworld

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Bulgari pushes the envelope, with the world’s thinnest automatic watch and a skeleton model for women

Over the years, Bulgari — the Italian jewellery house from Rome and actress Elizabeth Taylor’s weakness — has transformed itself into a well-diversified luxury company, with interests spanning from watches and leather to perfume, eyewear and, most recently, hotels. The brand, which was acquired by LVMH a few years ago, had a good 2017, with CEO Jean-Christophe Babin telling the Haute Horlogerie journal that its results “were the best ever in the history of Bulgari, with all our divisions posting excellent performance”.

It has continued riding this wave creatively this year, with an installation at the Milan Design Week — transforming its Serpenti bracelet into a spatial experience — involvement at the Tribeca Film Festival — where it collaborated with filmmakers Nina Meredith and Bella Monticelli to create two shorts inspired by the resilience of women — and, of course, the reinvention of some of its iconic models for Baselworld. If I had to choose the major Bulgari launches, they would have to be its thinnest automatic watch, the extension of the Tubogas bracelet to the Lucea line of ladies watches, and the combination of three different golds in a single Serpenti bracelet.

Octo Finissimo

Tourbillon Automatic: Bulgari, which has held several records for the world’s thinnest watch — Octo Finissimo Tourbillon in 2014, the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater in 2016 and the Octo Finissimo Automatic in 2017 — lost its position earlier this year, when Piaget launched the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic (4.3 mm thick), at SIHH in January. But it is now back on track with the new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, measuring just 3.95 mm thick. When I asked Babin about it, he said, “I was the first to extend my congratulations to Piaget but, at the same time, I briefed my team that if ever we could get back the record, soon would be better.”

 

The watch houses not only an automatic movement, but also a tourbillon. And to fit it all in 3.95 mm, Bulgari came up with something technically special in terms of the construction: a new Calibre BVL 288. The automatic winding system has an innovative peripheral oscillating weight positioned on the back, made of white gold and aluminium. The two metals with contrasting density enable the circular weight to oscillate with regularity. The movement also incorporates a flying tourbillon equipped with a ball-bearing system, resulting in reduced thickness. The movement measures an incredible 1.95 mm in thickness and offers a power reserve of 52 hours.

Minute Repeater Carbon: The second Octo Finissimo that stands out is the Minute Repeater Carbon. Working on its 2016 model, in a titanium case, Bulgari offers the new one in Carbon Thin Ply (CTP), a high-tech contemporary material made from an epoxy thermosetting resin that guarantees robustness. The in-house manual winding Minute Repeater movement is the thinnest in the world to date, at just 3.12 mm thick, and the watch weighs just 47 grams.

Bulgari: Slim fit at Baselworld

Lucea

Tubogas: The big story this year with women’s watches is the Lucea line with its Tubogas bracelet, which Bulgari is famous for since the 1940s. Available in 28 mm and 33 mm sizes, these come in steel, steel-and-gold, and gold versions, with black lacquer or white mother of pearl dials. While the smaller size is a quartz, the bigger is a mechanical automatic. The quartz movement (Calibre B046) comes with indications of the hours and minutes, while the automatic movement (Calibre B77) also shows seconds and date, and has a 42-hour power reserve. The look is completed with a date window at 3 o’clock, diamond hour markers and pink cabochon-cut gemstones.

Skeleton: Bulgari also launched a skeleton model within the Lucea line for the first time. The Lucea Skeleton is designed for women who appreciate complex mechanical movements. The watch is powered by the in-house automatic skeleton, Calibre BVL 191SK. What stands out in these in these ultra-feminine timepieces is the way the letters of Bulgari are integrated within the design.

Bulgari: Slim fit at Baselworld

Serpenti Tubogas Three-Gold

Last but definitely not the least, this year comes with Bulgari’s eternal bestseller, the Serpenti. But imagine a single Tubogas double tour bracelet in three different colours of 18 karat gold: yellow, rose and white. It is a great piece of craft delivered by skilled artisans at the Bulgari Manufacture. Its mesmerising look is enhanced with a bezel with brilliant-cut diamonds, and an 18k rose gold crown set with a cabochon-cut rubellite. “This totally fused integrated tri-gold snake is the coronation piece of the Serpenti Tubogas collection,” Babin concluded.

The writer is president and publisher of the Chitralekha Group and president, The Horologists.

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