Breaking Records and Creating Masterpieces: Meet The Two Headlining New Bulgari Timepieces From Watches & Wonders 2021
Editor’s note: Like you, we are also excited for the releases from the Watches & Wonders 2021. Our coverage is going to be split into 3 categories: deep-dive hands-on, shorter Gut Reaction Reviews (Grr…), and these nut-shell previews. This is the Quick Overview of the Two Headlining New Bulgari Timepieces From Watches & Wonders 2021. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
Date with Triumph
Rome. The city of longevity. Of design and creativity. Switzerland. The cradle of fine watchmaking. Two worlds weave like never before. They give root to Bulgari, the brand with seven horological world records in seven years. Releasing a unique portfolio for Watches & Wonders 2021 where the future stems from the strong foundations of heritage, Bulgari intertwines Italian design values with Swiss watchmaking skills.
Art and architecture collide in the mesmerising world of the new Bulgari timepieces from Watches & Wonders 2021.
This year Bulgari leads with two special timepieces, one soaked in the Roman design DNA and one stemmed from their watchmaking expertise: the new Bulgari Serpenti Misteriosi Cleopatra High-Jewellery cuff watch and the new Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar.
Both elegant, both unique, both impressive. 2021 is Bulgari’s date with triumph.
The 2021 Watches
A total of 8 models have been released, some one-off, some limited, some regular production models:
- Serpenti Misteriosi Cleopatra
- Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar Titanium
- Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar Platinum
- Diva’s Dream Divissima Emeralds
- Diva’s Dream Divissima Diamonds
- Allegra Rose Gold
- Allegra Rose Gold
- Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando
In this review we are looking at the first three timepieces.
Serpenti Misteriosi Cleopatra
In a nutshell: Serpenti has been in Bulgari’s collection since the 1940s. As the ultimate expression of feminity, the new Serpenti Misteriosi marks a new chapter in Bvlgari’s Colour Treasures series. Colourful and majestic, at first glance, I dismissed it as a beautiful piece of jewellery that has perhaps made it accidentally to the watches press section. But then I looked carefully, and there it was, hidden behind a faceted hexagonal see-through rubellite, a diamond-set dial, powered by a quartz movement. Under the rubellite, the dial is entirely set with diamonds measuring nearly 10 carats.
Timepieces like the new Serpenti Misteriosi always fascinate me, maybe because of my architectural background. These are more than just mere bracelets to be adorned by women. Designed and crafted, they manage to fulfil a dual function: of time telling and being an almost bespoke piece of bejewelled art that becomes an extension of the wearer.
Designed mostly as hexagons that are an interpretation of the scales of snakes that this collection is inspired by, here the design becomes particularly alluring due to the inclusion of striking nine colour combinations of luminous, smooth-surfaced gemstones surrounded by snow-set diamonds.
Basic Specs: The cuff features a Bulgari customised quartz movement hidden behind a 20mm 18ct rose gold case. On the whole, this impressive unique piece is made of 18ct rose gold and is comprised of hexagonal scales set with snow-set diamonds and decorated with 8 facetted hexagonal stones that include 2 citrines, 2 amethysts, 1 aquamarine, 1 tourmaline chrome, 1 tanzanite, and 1 peridot.
Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar
In a nutshell: The new record-breaking Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar is being introduced in titanium and platinum versions, both regular production models, both impressively capable of telling time and showcasing the complete calendar until 2100 (of course as long as the watch is kept wound).
The new Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar is built on the legacy set by 6 other timepieces:
- 2014’s platinum Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Manual that thanks to its calibre BVL 268 set the record for the thinnest hand-wound flying tourbillon movement in the world, coming in at only 1.95mm
- 2016’s titanium Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater that thanks to its calibre BVL 362 set the record for the thinnest minute repeater movement in the world, coming in at only 3.12mm
- 2017’s Octo Finissimo Automatic, the thinnest mechanical self-winding watch featuring the 2.23mm thick calibre BVL 138 that sat snug inside a 40 x 5.15mm titanium case
- 2018’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic saw 2014’s manual-winding watch being turned into self-winding, thanks to the 3.95mm thick movement, the calibre BVL 288
- 2019’s Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic became the thinnest ever mechanical chronograph courtesy calibre BVL 318’s 3.30mm thickness at the time. Piaget currently has had the last laugh here.
- 2020 saw the accomplishments of both 2018 and 2019 being combined in the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Automatic. The skeletonised dial revealed the only 3.50mm thick calibre BVL 388 beautifully
Given the legacy of the six previous versions, Bulgari had a reputation to build on, and a road less travelled to take. They accomplished both tasks with élan: 2021 now sees the birth of the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar that is currently the slimmest perpetual calendar watch, thanks to the only 2.75mm thick BVL 305 movement that is encased inside a 5.8mm thick titanium or platinum case.
It is not just the slimness of the case here that is impressive. The overall aesthetics of the new Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar are handsome, with the titanium version retaining a rugged, stealth appeal to it, and the lacquered blue dialled variation bringing a sense of enthusiasm to the collection. And while including the titanium versions ensures continuity to the overall seven-year journey, my only beef at this stage is that I would have liked Bulgari to swap that blue for a different colour, perhaps even green given 2021 seems to be the year of the green dialled watches.
When it comes to talking about the dial itself, the inclusion of a retrograde date display at 12 and a leap-year retrograde display at 6 is both unique to the collection and welcome. It also brings a bit of Bulgari Genta vibe to the piece as well.
Overall, I also appreciate the symmetry and geometric proportions on the 0.3mm thick dial. The circular month and day indicators at 4.30 and 7.30 respectively are perfectly mirrored. The black indices change six according to the counters, which is again appreciated for giving thought to small details. The hour and minute hands are skeletonised and don’t obstruct the readability of the dial. So far the only thing missing in these award-winning and record-setting pieces is the absence of lume, and I wonder when the innovative brand will figure out a way to include lume without hampering the aesthetics of the design language.
Basic specifications: It features the in-house automatic mechanical calibre BVL 305, which measures an astonishingly slim 2.75mm. Designed by the brand’s engineers at their Manufactory in Le Sentier, the movement features a micro-rotor and the optimal use of the space between the components. It is comprised of 408 components, beats at the frequency of 3Hz, and offers a pretty decent 60-hour power reserve. The calibre BVL 305 is cased inside a multi-faceted and angled 40mm diameter and 5.8mm thick sandblasted titanium case — or satin-brushed and polished platinum case — that includes a sandblasted titanium crown with ceramic insert — or a white gold crown — and a transparent caseback. The timepiece is water-resistant to 30m (3 ATM). Completing the package is the sandblasted titanium bracelet with a folding clasp or an alligator leather strap with a platinum pin clasp.
That’s All Folks!
The new Bulgari timepieces for 2021 as a whole are Haute Joaillerie meets Swiss watchmaking savoir-faire. They show how the brand can spread its wings and really diversify its portfolio.
When it comes to fine watchmaking, the brand has a history of ultra-thin calibres and is basking in the know-how. And when it comes to jewellery timepieces, it builds upon its Italian design roots.
Not content to sit quietly with previous laurels, this avant-garde brand has managed to walk that line of being a perfectly balanced watchmaker and jeweller. The signature Octo-Finissimo collection has quickly catapulted the iconic jeweller into a famed watchmaker. In a tryst with destiny, Bulgari manages to break and create world records.
Stay tuned for more detailed reviews of individual watches hopefully coming soon. To find out more about all the new Bulgari Timepieces from Watches & Wonders 2021, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise specified are © BVLGARI – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Make sure to check out our reviews of other Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.