Bulgari kicked off Geneva Watch Days with a slew of new timepieces. The mini watch fair, which was postponed due to Covid restrictions from its original date scheduled for earlier this month, takes place today through September 3rd in Switzerland and will play host to a total of 23 watchmaking houses. Bulgari, along with seven other brands including MB&F, Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux, is one of the founding partners of the show. The Italian maison went big for the micro event with nine new releases across four collection ranges including everything from high complications and high jewelry pieces to sports watches and a surprise appearance from one of Disney’s most recognizable characters.
Starting from the top, the 41 mm Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon ($129,000) uses a typically feminine inspiration for one of its more complicated pieces with a more conceptual take on the perennial motif that reimagines the way we read time. Minutes are tracked on a retrograde scale running in an arc along the lower half of the dial, where two independent, retractable “butterfly” or diamond-shaped hands take turns tracking minutes. As they rotate on a disk, one hand remains retracted while the other turns on its axis to point to the current minute. When the first hand reaches the 55th minute on the display, the other hand begins to gradually make a quarter turn to take its position at the 00-minute mark to count the next 60 minutes. Bulgari says the papillon device consumes less energy than a traditional minutes display. The manual wound manufacture caliber BVL 332 has a 60-hour power reserve and a central tourbillon escapement. Hours are clocked via a 24-hour jumping display that runs on a ceramic ball bearing in a window at 12 o’clock.
While Bulgari’s watchmaking division is acclaimed for its more complex timepieces like the Papillon, as well as being a multiple world record holder in the art of micro-thin watchmaking in its Octo Finissimo collection, it did not forsake a focus on its less-famous, but no less distinctive, Octo Roma collection. The collection’s new WorldTimer ($8,350), introduced today at the Geneva Watch Days show, tells time around the world the Bulgari way. It contains a new, integrated movement, the 261-component automatic caliber BVL257. A pair of rotating disks—one for the 24 time zone reference cities and the other for a 24-hour scale— allow instant reading of the time around the globe. All functions are adjusted via the crown, beginning with positioning the city of the chosen time zone at 12 o’clock, and then by setting the time, including the 24-hour time, according to that location. From there, it’s possible to read the time in all time zones. Bulgari switches up some of the cities that traditionally represent certain time zones choosing, for example, to represent the time in the Caribbean not with Bermuda but with St. Barts, a destination that represents “the essence of luxury in the region.” Other cities were chosen because Bulgari has, or plans to open, hotels there. The complex, 58-faceted case is 41 mm wide, in either satin-brushed and polished stainless steel or blackened steel with sandblasted surfaces.
But the house proved it was out to have a little lighthearted fun too. Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me? That’s right, it’s Mickey Mouse. Bulgari is bringing the Disney cartoon to one of its most iconic formats—the chunky, round Gérald Genta Arena case. The elite brand has been making Mickey Mouse watches since long before Bulgari acquired it in 2000. They have become coveted collectors’ items, along with Genta’s high complications and iconic case designs. Gérald Genta was one of the most renowned watch designers of the 20th century, having created the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Cartier Pasha. The Gérald Genta Arena Retrograde Mickey Mouse Disney limited edition is a tribute to the Disney heritage, as well as to the brand’s history of making retrograde calibers.
The famous mouse appears to be dancing on the rhodium-plated sunray dial. His left hand indicates the minutes on a 210-degree retrograde scale. The hours appear jump-style in a window at 5 o’clock. It is housed in a 41 mm Arena case in polished stainless steel and is a 150-piece limited edition that comes on a padded rubber strap, priced at €16,500 (pricing is to be confirmed in USD, but it is approximately $19,466 at current exchange).
For its high jewelry offering, the Divina Mosaica is the tour de force with pavé and invisible style gem-setting in fan-shaped sections that resemble cloissoné enameling but without the enamel—the gem zones are separated by borders made of thin gold wire. The result is a unique interpretation of the high jewelry watch that is both contemporary and traditional, and at the same time demonstrates Bulgari’s fearless use of color. The collection leaves no stone unset: every surface sparkles.
There are three versions. The Divina Mosaica Minute Repeater ($368,000) is all diamonds, with alternating sections of pavé set round diamonds and invisibly set tapered baguettes. The case side and the curved, fan-shaped lugs are also set with diamonds. It contains one of Bulgari’s seven world records for micro-watchmaking—the world’s thinnest striking movement, caliber BVL 362—interpreted here with a gem-set lucky charm attached to the slide that activates the chime on demand. It is set with 689 diamonds totaling 11.6 carats in a 37 mm 18-karat white-gold case topped off with a cabochon sapphire crown.
The Divina Mosaica Pink Sapphire ($162,000) and Green Tsavorite ($174,000) versions alternate diamond sections with gemstone sections, using light-to-dark graduated hues of either pink sapphires or tsavorites. The case, bezel and lugs are fully set, and the crown is topped with a matching tsavorite or pink sapphire cabochon. These two versions contain the time-only automatic Bulgari caliber BVL 191. They are set with a total of 282 diamonds totaling 2.16 carats, and either 261 tsavorites (11.6 carats) or 261 pink sapphires (12.7 carats).
Bulgari also introduced two Diva’s Dream jewelry watches at Geneva Watch Days, changing up the dial with a different kind of gemstone application, using hardstones. Single slices of blue lapis lazuli or green banded malachite form the backdrop for these more understated pieces, which have simple diamond markers and diamond bezels. Alternating rows of fan-shaped bracelet links are also set with diamonds. The bracelet and 33mm case are 18k rose gold and set with 433 diamonds totaling 2.9 carats. The movement is quartz. They are priced at $49,800.