Once again, LVMH is ahead of the pack. Last year, the luxury conglomerate released its new watches for 2020 with a splashy January event in Dubai, just weeks before Covid-19 became a global pandemic. The timing was certainly fortuitous for Hublot, Zenith, Bulgari and Tag Heuer. It gave the brands a chance to be seen in-person by both retailers, press and VIP clients before the business would nearly come to a standstill. This year, the watch division made sure to be first out of the gate again. Here are the highlights from Bulgari with a special mention to the Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon.
After all the fanfare and focus on the technical expertise and groundbreaking design of the Octo Finissimo collection, Bulgari turned its attention to the Octo Roma line this year. The showpiece of its 2021 releases is this new Carillon Tourbillon. The 44 mm piece employs three hammers fixed directly to the titanium body of the case. They are folded and formed by an expert craftsman before they are hardened at a temperature of 900 degrees. After, they are cleaned and then ironed in an oven at 500 degrees to give the metal a crystalline resonance. They are then lengthened with a file to refine the chords of the ringing. Yes, all of that for the thin and tiny wire-like gongs you see encircling the interior of the case.
The melody sounds three tones in the note of C for the hours, a sequence of mid-range-C notes for the quarters and a mid-note for the minutes. Beyond the positioning of the hammers, sound was maximised and refined with hollowing constructions in the middle case to reduce the amount of metal inside and outside, and three openings were added to the three chimes to allow sound to exit from the chamber. The back has also been hollowed in a titanium grid that protects the resonance and allows sound to be further transmitted to the exterior.
The Octo Roma Caliber BVL428 also comes with cut-out bridges and a unique arrangement of the components to better reveal the mechanism to the wearer (and its spectators). The hammers, gongs and tourbillon cage come in alternating polished steels for depth of presentation, while the mainplate and bridges are treated in PVD.
Unlike other watchmakers attempting to modernise, Bulgari has found a unique design formula that is overtly contemporary while still being sophisticated, and that strategy is hitting all the right notes.
Limited to just 15 pieces worldwide (price upon request), the Octa Roma Carillon Tourbillon will be numbered via an engraving on the crown and comes on a black alligator leather strap with a three-blade folding clasp in DLC titanium.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo
It was all about small design tweaks on the three new Octo Finissimo releases. First up, the Chronograph GMT model received a new black opaline dial with a new sporty rubber strap designed to look like a fabric strap. The 42 mm piece houses the ultra-thin BVL 318 caliber with a peripheral rotor that allows for a thinness of 6.9 mm. Previous versions came in monochrome titanium. Next, the steel 43 mm by 8.75 mm S Chronograph GMT, also equipped with the BVL 318 caliber, was updated with a handsome new blue sunray dial paired with silver counters. The dial color offers a slightly more traditional take on the otherwise minimalist aesthetic of the Octo. But, in our opinion, the best looking model of the bunch stays true to Bulgari’s pared-down aesthetic. The new 40 mm by 6.40 mm Octo Finissimo S, a follow up to 2020’s introduction of a stainless steel model, now comes with a new silver vertical-brushed dial, which pairs nicely against the radial-brushed bezel. Previously, the steel version was offered with a black dial, but the new silver dial steel model, powered by the BVL 138 caliber, allows for a sleeker look akin to last year’s ceramic introduction.
Bulgari Diva’s Dream
Bulgari’s Diva’s Dream collection consistently serves up high-end complication pieces for women as a tribute to history’s grandest dames. The latest offering is no exception. The new Peacock line, which comprises three timepieces, has that signature pop of color and artfully combines diamonds and ancient techniques in an undeniably alluring way.
Each piece has a luxe 37 mm 18-karat rose gold case and breathtaking dial that pays homage to the preening spirit of the peacock in a truly unique way. The first, the Peacock Dishi, features a striking marquetry dial set with 24 natural hand-cut feather elements that were painstakingly sourced from nearly 500 feathers. Limited to 50, it features a total of 440 diamonds and 25 sapphires, along with a deep blue alligator bracelet. Next, the Peacock Diamonds, sees a hand-painted peacock motif set against a mother-of-pearl backdrop and boasts a staggering 1,452 (7.56 carats) of brilliant-cut diamonds. Finally, the Peacock Tourbillon Lumière features a dial decorated with natural peacock feather marquetry and snow-set diamonds. Limited to just 10 pieces, this watch takes some six weeks to complete.
Bulagari Serpenti Spiga
Bulgari’s snake-inspired timepieces have been slithering around wrists since the ’40s and the Serpenti range has become a distinct signifier of the brand. The latest collection, Serpenti Spiga, comprises three new serpent-themed timepieces that each feature the classic 33 mm snake-shaped dial, Bulgari’s high-precision quartz movement, and a diamond-encrusted wrapping bracelet with an intricate matelassé pattern.
The most subdued of the trio is finished in 18-karat rose gold and sports a mother-of-pearl dial and double-row bracelet with a total of 281 brilliant-cut diamonds. For a little more pizzaz, there’s a second rose-gold timepiece with a triple-row bracelet, black lacquered dial and 461 rocks. And, finally, the piece de resistance, an 18-karat white-gold watch set with a single cabochon-cut blue sapphire. This blingy beauty features a triple-row bracelet with 421 stones, plus a dial that’s decorated with 257 snow pavé-set diamonds.
Previously published on Robb Report.