BVLGARI’S LATEST PIECE
There are fe the almos the Swiss time. The masters – owners of go tick-tock with remarka Enter Bulgari, the Italia moved into men’s wristwe Specifically, sit and listen come – wrapped in an eve accent – from the mouth Buonamassa Stigliani, sen Bulgari Watches Design C moved the company’s wat division from Rome to N Switzerland, where in-hou takes place, but he’s quick famed la dolce vita – to out unique Italian flair is atta do, even if that approach r straighter edges of Swiss c “Quite simply, form fol for us – you can find the r in Italian culture,” chime Stigliani. “There’s a form approach to watchmaking y own traditions and heritage. [And] it’s our job to challenge this solid heritage and create something unique. That is the Italian way.” As Buonamassa Stigliani views it, such nationalistic points of difference are central to achieving any semblance of success. These are the keys to the processes that see the Italian label own a firm reputation for striking pieces, most recently realised with this year’s Baselworld release, the ‘Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater’. At only 6.85mm thick, the ‘Octo Finissimo’ uses the ‘Caliber BVL 362’, with a flat balance spring enabling a movement of just 3.2mm thickness. While competition for the smallest boy toy is fairly standard in Swiss watchmaking, it’s the flawless execution
“BVLGARI’S DNA IS ABOUT BEING A UNIQUE ITALIAN LUXURY LABEL AND THE FIRST REAL LUXURY BRAND TO COME FROM ROME. YOU CAN FIND THE ROOTS OF OUR DESIGNS IN ITALIAN CULTURE.”
that makes Bulgari stand out against the big boys, those with decades more experience. “We break the rules,” says Buonamassa Stigliani, proudly. “In the past, we’ve broken the rules with our use of materials – [we were] the first to use aluminium and the first to use plastic with gold. This time it’s different, because we’ve used titanium, which is standard for watches that want to break the rules in terms of weight. Here, we decided to break the rules in terms of design, with the case. It’s about being disruptive.” ‘Architectural’ and ‘sleek’ are adjectives not often used in relation to Bulgari – which regularly ticks the boxes of extravagance and opulence. But with its grey sandblasted titanium finish, the result here is a masterpiece of cool, without a trace of crass.
“You could wear this watch every day. This is not made for a museum – I am not interested in making things for museums.” Rule-breaking, a fixation for Buonamassa Stigliani, comes to the fore with the genius decision of cutting the numerals into the watch’s dial, allowing the minute repeater to noisily advertise its workmanship. “A chime needs air, a space to work, which is a challenge when you are making such a thin watch,” he says. Add 362 components jammed into the ‘Caliber BVL 362’ movement, which includes hammers to strike out the time, and that challenge becomes next level. “Here the titanium became an advantage because it makes the right sound and the holes in the dial allow the sound to escape – it’s crisp and it’s loud.”
Buonamassa Stigliani’s sensitivity to sound was developed with the magnificent ‘L’ammiraglio del Tempo’, launched to great fanfare in 2014 – a wondrous minute repeater where the activating slide for the signature Big Ben bells is artfully concealed in the left lug of the watch. This showpiece encapsulates the design director’s adventurous approach, combining innovative complications that delight time lords and watch nerds alike (this one has a whopping 516 components, including four hammers and gongs) all packaged in a gold Daniel Roth case that would impress someone who doesn’t know the difference between a tourbillon and a tourmaline. Having come from an automotive design background, working at Fiat’s Style Centre for three years before joining Bulgari in 2001, Buonamassa Stigliani’s rebellious approach is easier to understand. It’s an unconventional attitude that’s brought the company considerable success, with the 2012 ‘Octo’ range, followed by the ultra-thin tourbillon version and the elegant ‘Lucea’ for women. The rebel spirit only gives way to convention when asked about his greatest achievement, Buonamassa Stigliani’s temperament immediately dialing down from fiery creative to concerned parent. “For every designer, each product is their baby and at a different moment one will be the favourite but you always have to answer that it’s the next one. I’m thinking of the future, of Basel, I mean 2017 is already done for us. There is no doubt that the ‘Octo Finissimo’ is a milestone for us but the best is yet to come.” Working for Bulgari, the past will always play a part in Buonamassa Stigliani’s design process – though looking ahead, keeping an eye on the future, is also important. “Elizabeth Taylor, Anna Magnani and Sophia Loren are all part of our iconic heritage because they loved to wear Bulgari watches,” he says. “They were ladies of strong character, which defines our customers, including the men. It takes a strong woman to wear the ‘Serpenti’ watch and a strong man to wear the ‘Octo’. “I’m [also] looking at the elegance of today and the cool people of today. These customers, Loren and Taylor, were part of la dolce vita. I want people who will wear their watches in a disruptive way, since that’s how they’re made.”
RIGHT: STAINLESS STEEL ‘OCTO FINISSIMO MINUTE REPEATER’ WATCH $9450, BY BVLGARI; BVLGARI.COM ABOVE: 18KT GOLD ‘L’AMMIRAGLIO DEL TEMPO’ WATCH, POA, BY BVLGARI; COTTON TUXEDO SHIRT, $1250, BY DOLCE & GABBANA; COTTON ‘LUCA’ BOW TIE, $165, BY LE NOEUD PAPILLON.