Bulgari last week unveiled its most complex watch ever, a grand strike repeater with perpetual calendar, as well as a one-off watch featuring a dramatic skeleton tourbillon built with a genuine ancient Roman coin.
The pair of unique-piece watches solidly underscore Bulgari’s focus on its Octo collection and its mastery of minute repeaters. In addition to debuting these unique pieces, Bulgari expanded its Divas’ Dream collection of complicated watches for women with an aventurine and diamond-dialed watch displaying time like historical ‘mystery watches’ using rotating discs instead of hands to indicate time.
The debuts, first seen during a launch event in Shanghai, arrive on the heels of the recent nomination of five Bulgari watches to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2018, a record number of nominations for a single watchmaker in one year.
In addition to the headlining complicated debuts, Bulgari also showed a series of new Serpenti, Tubogas and Lvcea watches, each expanding Bulgari’s distinctive jeweled collections made for women, while adding blue hues to several Octo Finissimo ultra thin watches.
The Grande Sonnerie
The Bulgari Octo Grande Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar combines two elaborate complications: a grand sonnerie (grand strike) and a perpetual calendar. Equipped with four hammers, the movement (the automatic BVL 5307) sounds the hours, quarter-hours and minutes on demand. The perpetual calendar here features a full range of calendar indications – day, date, month and year – along with moonphases, all regulated by a Bulgari tourbillon.
This 44mm watch is cased in rose gold and shows off its caliber from the front as well as from the clear sapphire caseback. Bulgari has created a specialized Octo Roma case designed to encompass the new movement, which is thicker than Bulgari’s most recent Octo offerings. Notably, the case features a dark middle section that holds the caliber between the bezel and the caseback.
“The black middle case is unusual,” explains Fabrizio Buonamassa, Bulgari Horlogerie’s Artistic Director. “The middle case is floating. We have made openings throughout so the sound travels through. It is made using titanium with a DLC coating, and its wall is very thin to help transmit sound. Of course there are openings in the back case.”
Buonamassa adds that Bulgari can produce three grand sonneries each year, but each will be different. “This collector who want these pieces wants a unique piece.”
The second unique piece from last week’s debuts is the Bulgari Octo Monete, a 44mm gold watch that can also be worn as a pocket watch. It arrives with an 18-karat gold chain and is quickly converted using supplied, removable attachments. The rare ancient Roman coin set into the cover of hinged case that opens to reveal a thin skeleton tourbillon movement surrounded by baguette-cut diamonds. It’s a dramatic presentation of several over-arching watch design characteristics that set Bulgari apart from its Swiss-based peers.
“I love the new coin (Octo Monete) piece,” says Buonamassa. “For the first time we’ve made a watch that can also become a pocket watch. The idea was to play with this large Roman coin. The watch is a unique blend for Bulgari. On the case we have the Roman heritage using coins similar to what Bulgari has used since the 1970s. But here when you open it you have the tourbillon skeleton ultra-thin execution. It’s the past and the future of Bulgari combined into one watch. I love its aesthetic in terms of evolution of the Octo Roma case, this coin as a jewel.”
Bulgari has also expanded its Divas’ Dream collection with Roman Nights, a 37mm watch offered in rose gold or white gold. The jeweled piece indicates hours and minutes on two overlaid aventurine discs in the tradition of so-called ‘mystery watches’ pioneered by Cartier and others. Each disc is set with a diamond pointing to the hours and minutes as shown by sapphires and diamonds on the outer track.
Bulgari also showed new colors within its titanium Octo Finissimo collection.
The first is equipped with the automatic Finissimo movement and a dial with newly blued hands and hour-markers. The second, Octo Finissimo Skeleton, has the same color theme but with blue hands, small seconds, counters, power reserve, minute scale, and matching alligator leather strap.
In addition to these debuts, Bulgari has added a wide range of Serpenti, Lvcea and Tubogas watches. We’ll have more on these in future posts, but enjoy these images of these new, intensely jeweled pieces below.