The arrival of branding in horology is represented in one of the most tangible ways through Bvlgari-Bvlgari. To dare engraving its own social reason as well as its surname on such a visible space as the bezel of a watch, to be able to transform this inscription into a key element of the model’s global aesthetics is downright avant-gardiste in a sector where the use of logos and names stems from a long tradition of humility.
Strictly speaking, before the arrival of brands, watchmakers or company bosses for decades affixed only their surnames on the dials of their watches. They often added the town name where the factory or the production team was situated.
In 1975, the watch from the first series thus marked a turning point. The era fits it. The arrival of quartz and the temporary predominance of the Japanese are changing the landscape. Two-thirds of horology employments are to be shelved. How handy it is to possess values in this context. And the values of the Bvlgari brand are nothing new. They are those of a brand kneaded in an Italian style and jewellery refinements. A brand which frequently draws its inspiration from coins of Antique Rome on which the effigy of the emperor was surrounded by engraved inscriptions paying tribute to the glory of his power and prestige. A signature which can count on its followers. Besides, the 1975 first series, 100 pieces made for top clients, is a quartz model whose digital display with grey liquid crystals contrasts sharply with the gold refinement and of a strap uniting leather and plaiting with polished fraying.
It is to be noted that by playing with its symbols, by staking on this affirmation of the self, on the original models, Bvlgari saved, even on the original models, the inscription of its name on the dials. This is better understood forty years later so much so as the first series did not have any dials – the liquid crystal display was situated at the centre.
As from 1980, the brand’s name reappears on the dial. It is the same year that the future icon meets jewellery craftsmanship, which entirely devoted itself to it through a first ever model named “serpenti”. It is the start of an avalanche of references, which, in 1982, mixed different forms of gold, steel, the two-coloured, the leather or metal straps, the black or the blue of the dials…
Until a 6 and a 12 in Arabic numbers are successful in shaking their foundations, the indexes are sticks, deprived from any embellishments. Streamlined indicators, aesthetic destitution.
The journey of a myth
From 1987 to 1989, the icon was extended towards other accessories: chain watches, office watches and letter openers… Then, as from 1991, it indulges in some breakaways in the form of jewellery craftsmanship, multiplying full or partial cobbles and favouring diamond. Five years later, it develops a fondness for semi-precious minerals to the point of cutting its dials in lapis lazuli, in agate, in verdite or sodalite… it even goes further to dare a total removal: if need be, it disengages itself without regret from the famous stick indexes, or even replaces them with diamonds.
Even since 1996, the icon, now professing mainly mechanical craftsmanship, started to flirt with the complicated horology universe by venturing towards “small complications” such as a seconds hand moved to the 6 o’clock position, a GMT or a skeleton version. At the start of the 21st Century, it completely anchors there; in 2001, it presents a perpetual calendar.
Obviously, the Bvlgari-Bvlgari comes up against the chronograph, the Quantième Annuel with date aperture and retrograde day hands, the moon phases, then in 2004 and 2005, the tourbillion. Finally, still in 2005, it got familiar with the mother of all complications, the minutes repeater, following a very fresh realisation all mixed in white and blue.
Constantly searching for its authenticity, the piece is an endless witness of the eras in which it travels. Taking clever advantage of this, it never loses its spirit. The Bvlgari-Bvlgari is restyled twice. The first time in 2006 – the trend was to multi-zoned dials – the second in 2013 where its case became more complicated.