The Italian Touch
Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Director of Bulgari Watches Design, chats about design philosophy
This has been a great year for Bvlgari. For one, the brand celebrates its 100th year of jewelry watchmaking in 2018—and it does so with style. There is the unveiling of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, officially the world’s slimmest self-winding watch and Bvlgari’s fourth world record for thin watches. Equally impressive although not a record-breaker is the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon, which weighs a mere 47grams—you can barely feel it sitting on your wrist, but it still chimes impressively loud. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, to say nothing of what Bvlgari has created for the ladies.
To learn more about Bvlgari’s continued success story in the world of haute horlogerie, I spoke to the man at the forefront of the brand’s watchmaking ventures: Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani. DAMAN: Bvlgari has broken many records— not just for complicated watches but, quite prominently, for the thinnest ones. Why is creating the thinnest watches so important for the brand? Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani: The records are very important. But for me, as a designer, the most important thing is not the record, but the opportunity to show for sure our capabilities, our skills. The idea behind this big series, this great series of watches, is a different way to wear a grand complication. When I say a different way, it is, for sure, a wristwatch, but we revamp and reinvent the ultra-thin sentiment. It means being more modern, contemporary in terms of design, in terms of approach with materials. Because, you know, we just use materials that are common in the watch industry like steel, gold, titanium and carbon. But when you combine these materials with a new vision, you have a new watch. That’s the most important things for me: To give the opportunity to our clients to wear one of the most complicated watch in the world for everyday use. I’m a designer, someone has to use my object. So, our idea behind this kind of product was to have a wearable complication.
It’s easy to make thick movements, thick watches; but it’s not comfortable. This kind of watch is so thin, so light, it’s like a second skin on the wrist. So, you see, it’s something that fits very, very well with different styles and, for sure, it fits very well with our idea of style and taste for design and beautiful things. If I find a way to show you a new way to use an object that you already know, maybe it’s more interesting to you.
“A designer is not an artist—a designer has to play with constraints. For me the constraints became an opportunity”
DA: Speaking of materials, the Octo Finissimo Automatic uses sandblasted gold. That’s not something you see often... FBS: Yes, from a jewel maker like Bvlgari that makes impressive jewels with incredible use of gold, steel and different materials—yes, it’s unusual. DA: Is it risky, though? FBS: No, it’s not risky. I tell you that the appreciation for this model, the Octo Finissimo Automatic in gold is incredible. All the ladies love this watch, because it’s so precious but it’s very discrete. Often it looks like the same color of your skin. It’s something that’s a little bit understated. I think that this is the real taste for elegance and chic products: A very unique object, but very well done with a different taste.
Again, it was not risky for us. It was a natural evolution of the use of titanium. A designer is not an artist—[a designer] has to play with constraints. For me the constraints became an opportunity.
The idea of the matte finishing on titanium was born with the minute repeater, the first that we presented two years ago. I wanted to see the titanium in matte finishing—not with polish and satin finishing like steel or like white gold. We are talking about titanium in very raw finishing. My product has to be able to explain itself. And when you see the minute repeater in titanium you see something different. You cannot mistake it for something else: it is a Bvlgari product. And all the elements of the case, the dial, the indexes ... all the elements tell you the same language in a very consistent way. The material helped to say, “I am the thinnest and I am different” ... in a very discrete way.
Everybody knows about titanium. But maybe Bvlgari— thanks to our heritage, history and our approach to luxury—can play with different materials and this kind of movement. Same thing for carbon, which we use to improve the quality of sound. So, we have the minute repeater, one of the oldest grand complications in watchmaking history, and carbon, something very contemporary. When you combine two elements like this, it’s like the Tubogas in the jewelry world. It’s inspired by gas pipes, but only Bvlgari is able to transform it into a luxury icon. And only Bvlgari is able to use carbon like no other for a minute repeater.
This is our passion: very simple but unexpected. DA: I’ve often heard that Bvlgari doesn’t design movements and then the design, but instead starts with the design. Why is that? FBS: Today we are able to imagine the movement, the case and the entire object at the same moment. So, when we design the Finissimo, we immediately started to talk with our watch masters in Le Sentier [in Switzerland, where on of Bvlgari’s manufactures is located] and we immediately started to imagine the product so as to have just one single hand in the creation of the object.