Hubert Burda Media

Bulgari's watchmaking prowess displayed

At Baselworld, Bulgari announced a world record and launched the world’s first luxury intelligent mechanical watch.

While other watchmakers were scrambling to keep up with the smartwatch trend at Baselworld 2015, Bulgari dodged the frenzy and launched the Diagono Magn@sium Concept watch, the world’s first mechanical wristwatch that doubles up as a portable vault. Unlike regular smartwatches, it doesn’t track footsteps, sleeping patterns or emails; instead, it is fitted with an NFC chip that unlocks the Bulgari Vault Application with remote access to encrypted data stored on a secured cloud. The chip can also connect with other devices within range, making it possible to use the watch to unlock the doors of your beach front villa or supercar.

As if that wasn’t cool enough, the unprecedented collaboration with Swiss NFC technology expert WISeKey took a more sophisticated turn this year, when Bulgari announced at Baselworld that a third partner, MasterCard, was roped in. Bulgari’s global partnership with the leading global payments and technology company has enabled the watchmaker to launch the new Bulgari Diagono Magn@sium, the first and only mechanical watch that allows global e-payment. This means that in addition to its ability to access the Bulgari Vault Application, the watch also eliminates the need for both keys and credit cards because contactless payments can be made securely at more than four million retail locations in 74 countries.

Whilst keeping its one foot firmly planted at the forefront of this new generation of luxury mechanical watches, Bulgari also announced another industry benchmark in the form of the world’s thinnest minute repeater. Measuring a mere 6.85mm thick, the titanium clad Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater follows in the footsteps of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon (2014), the thinnest tourbillon in the market. The Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater’s wafer thin proportions measure 1.24mm thinner than the last record holder, Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Contemporaine Calibre 1731 Minute Repeater.

Octo Finissimo Tourbillon

It was challenging to strike a balance between attaining the perfect pitch and volume for the minute repeater’s chimes and achieving ultra-slim and light proportions. Using titanium on the case and dial was an obvious solution that aided in its quest to build a perfectly resonant and slender minute repeater because of the material’s strong, lightweight and low density properties. The watch also features a titanium dial with cut-outs on the hour markers and small seconds dial to amplify the resonance within the case.

Powered by the manually wound calibre BVL 362 that measures just 3.12mm thick, the 362 components in the movement had to be painstakingly miniaturised to fit within the svelte case. This extreme miniaturisation is best illustrated in the centrifugal strike governor that measures just 3.3mm in diameter. Despite its super slender proportions, the 40-mm case offers a surprising water resistance of up to 50m, thanks to the use of a pusher-style activator at nine o’clock.

The Octo family continues to flourish with several other additions such as the Octo Finissimo Skeleton and the new Octo Ultranero models. The former is presented in a 40-mm DLC-coated steel case complemented by an 18k pink gold bezel and crown. The unique combination of materials and colours acts as the perfect frame for the modern architecture of the BVL 128SK manual winding movement. Measuring at 2.35mm only, it delivers up to 65 hours of power when it is fully wound and features a small seconds function and power reserve display.

Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater

Bearing the same trendy combination of black and 18k pink gold, the three Octo Ultranero watches are a tribute to the design world’s eternal obsession with black. Among the three watches — Octo Solotempo, Octo Velocissimo and Octo Finissimo tourbillon — the most impressive is the ultra-slim tourbillon that is now offered in a 40-mm DLC-coated titanium case. Polished hand-applied gold hour markers and the beautifully complicated tourbillon carriage at six o’clock stand out against the smooth lacquered black dial.

Elsewhere, the Diagono collection has also been refreshed with new additions for the sporty gentleman. The Diagono Scuba, reintroduced last year, is now offered with a blue dial, while the high-tech Diagono Magnesium watch (also launched last year), featuring a case composed of magnesium, ceramic, Motorlac and PEEK (PolyEtherETherKetone), is now offered with a chronograph complication. The watch is powered by the self-winding B130 chronograph movement and is available in four colours: Black, red, blue and grey.

Diagono Magnesium Chronograph

Bulgari also paid tribute to its jewellery heritage by introducing a wide assortment of feminine timepieces that artfully combine the brand’s artistic sensibilities with its watchmaking expertise. Epitomising this balance are the new Diva’s Dream watches that feature a single retrograde minutes hand, together with a jumping hours display. Powered by the mechanical self-winding movement BVL Calibre 262, they are presented in diamond-set 18k white or pink gold cases complete with the characteristic fan-shaped lug of the Divas’ Dream watches. The white gold version features a diamond-set lapis lazuli dial while the pink gold iteration shows off a ruby stone dial replete with diamond-set retrograde minute markers.

Bulgari’s first ladies tourbillon watch collection, the Il Giardino, also added another decorated dial to the exclusive family. Powered by the manufacture tourbillon calibre BVL 263, the new Il Giardino Paradiso is inspired by the exotic bird-of-paradise. Available in two versions, in 18k white or 18k pink gold, it shows a blue mother of pearl dial with a meticulously hand painted miniature of the bird against a lush backdrop of flowers and foliage.

Serpenti Incantati Skeleton Tourbillon

While these two watches embody the brand’s expertise in creating evocative and complicated ladies watches, it is the new Serpenti Incantati Skeleton Tourbillon that is most telling of its plan to conquer this market. This is Bulgari’s first skeleton tourbillon for ladies and also the first time a high complication has been fitted into a Serpenti watch. It is also one of the many new Serpenti timepieces launched this year to commemorate the house’s most emblematic symbol, the serpent.

The Serpenti Incantati Skeleton Tourbillon is part of a new collection of watches that shows off the brand’s new interpretation of the snake. Instead of portraying its body coiled tightly around the wrist, it is depicted languidly looped around the watch’s 41-mm round dial. Presented in either 18k pink or white gold, the skeleton worked Manufacture tourbillon BVL calibre 208 features a gold mainplate and bridges that have been intricately decorated. In the spirit of fine watchmaking, the steel components in the movement have also been finished using circular graining and snailing techniques

The new Serpenti Incantati watches are also available without the tourbillon function, as dainty, quartz-powered bejewelled watches. These 30-mm watches come in four executions: In 18k pink gold and rubellites, or in 18k white gold and diamonds, on a satin strap or a matching jewellery bracelet.

Serpenti Tubogas

Other exciting additions to the Serpenti family include new Serpenti Tubogas watches, the Serpenti Spiga watches and some glamorous Serpenti jewellery watches. The Serpenti Tubogas line enjoys a new dial colour, plum amethyst, while a more understated version of its eye catching seven-coil bracelet in pink gold is offered in the form of a bi-coloured (in steel and 18k pink gold) five-coil variant that comes with a black opaline dial.

Putting a modern spin on the Tubogas style bracelets is the Serpenti Spiga line that is presented entirely in black or white ceramic. Prior to these, the Tubogas bracelets have traditionally been forged in metal. This year marks a new milestone in Bulgari’s technical prowess as it successfully recreates the flexibility and articulation of this beloved bracelet through a new and resolutely modern material.   

Finally, riding on the success of last year’s head over tail Serpenti designs, Bulgari gives pride of place to colour combinations created by diamonds and hard stones such as coloured mother-of-pearl, coral, onyx and turquoise. Presented on an 18k pink gold structure, these brilliant jewellery models serve as sparkling interpretations of the brand’s most enduring icon.