Baselworld 2016: Bulgari Charges Forward with New Collections and Record-Setting Watches


It is definitely a record year for Bulgari when it comes to watches. This year, the brand not only unveils several all-new collections, but also brings the beloved Serpenti to new heights and unveils the world’s thinnest Minute Repeater.

Yes, that was a lot to say in a single sentence, but imaging unveiling all of that in a single year. To some it may seem incredible, but to me – having visited the Bulgari workshops in Le Sentier recently, as well as the dial making factory – I fully understand how this brand has sped forward into the limelight of high watchmaking. We will bring you more on the story of the Bulgari workshops soon, but in the meantime, let’s focus on Baselworld 2016 and the products that are all abuzz for this brand.

First and foremost, the record-setting watch: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater. The watch belongs to the ultra-thin Octo collection – the very same one that two years ago witnessed the unveiling of the record-setting Finissimo Tourbillon.

This newest landmark achievement for Bulgari is the thinnest hand-wound minute repeater on the market. The complicated 362-part Caliber 362 is just 3.12 mm thin. When cased, it is still magnificently slim at 6.85 mm.

The creation of the watch, which was several years in the making, required the brand’s horological experts to start from scratch, build an all-new movement that was not only ultra-thin, but also as melodious and beautiful as any chiming watch double or even triple its size.

On the top floor of the Le Sentier workshops, three master watchmakers specialize in the creation of chiming watches. This piece is their baby. The Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater offers crystal clear chiming according to a uniform cadence. Its pitch, tone and acoustical loudness has been tested and retested in a special room using only state-of-the-art computer testing.

The case is made of titanium – a material that is said to offer strong acoustical sound diffusion. Additionally, the hour markers on the dial and the small seconds counter are all titanium and feature cut-out designs that not only offer aesthetics, but also allow the sound to be amplified and to resonate within the case.

Even the gongs and the two hammers have been reconfigured. They are individually made by hand and are specially shaped. There is a centrifugal strike governor that measures 3.3mm in diameter and that is equipped with two inertia-blocks. An “all or nothing” safety device is positioned at 9 o’clock. Not only does it ensure that the watch will chime fully (or not at all), but also it ensures a water resistance of 50m. Offering 42 hours of power reserve, the timepiece is a classic beauty with visionary technology. Just 50 pieces will be made of this hand-wound Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater.

Complementing the new Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is a stealth black ultra thin version of the famed Finissimo Tourbillon. The black rendition is a sleek reminder that Bulgari knows how to take a concept to new design heights time and again.

In fact, the idea of a visionary new design of a beloved collection is exactly the concept that led to this year’s unveiling of the charming Serpenti Incantati line. Translated as “enchanting,” Incantati is a deft blend of the iconic Serpenti (coiled snake) jewelry and watch motif, and a new high-jeweled stylized look. Instead of being presented as a coil bracelet and snake motif, the new Incantati is a round case ensconced in diamonds that wrap around the dial like a snake. The last diamonds join together beneath the 6:00 position with triangular stones that emulate the snake’s head. It is all very high-style and contemporary.

There are also some stunning new Serpenti Tubogas bracelet watches presented this year in new earthy jewel tones such as emerald green and warm brown. We will bring you more about those collections post Basel.