Bulgari within the select circle of Haute Horology
A few years ago it signalled its ambitions with the acquisition of the Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth brands. Moreover, the brand inaugurated a centre of watchmaking expertise, Bulgari Time Neuchâtel, in 1982. The manufacture is firmly located in the home of haute horology, Switzerland. Bulgari are clearly serious when it comes to the creation of fine timepieces.
In 2012, Bulgari dazzled with their distillation of the iconic Octo. Originally conceived by Gérald Genta, arguably the greatest watch designer of the 20th century, it enhanced a handsome model with numerous angles presented on its case. The brand chose to remove the masters name from the dial and, without wishing to appear disrespectful to the Genta name, I think it is better for it. It simply looks cleaner.
Now in 2013, Bulgari have worked their magic once more, refining the iconic Bulgari Bulgari. The question is, have they enhanced the design, or lost some of the majesty and wonder, of the 1977 Gérald Genta original?
A dial with generous lines
Black is the chosen hue of the dial with facetted rhodiumed hour markers save for noon where Arabic numerals are used in preference.
Sword-shaped hands convey the hours and minutes with their generous lines. However, by way of contrast, the central seconds chronograph is as svelte as the pretty young things which grace the runways and catwalks of the most famous fashion shows.
If you examine the counter-weight featured on central chronograph seconds hand, it is similar to an isosceles triangle in profile. It is one of several flourishes of style which engenders joy in those who scrutinise this handsome timepiece. With the name Bulgari, a sense of style is inextricably linked to their alluring designs.
Three subdials are presented on the dial. At 3 o’clock, a 30-minute chronograph counter is shown. Opposite, at 9 o’clock, a near identical subdial is presented, displaying subsidiary seconds. Above 6 o’clock, a 12-hour chronograph counter features; It is smaller in stature but shares a similar design language to its larger siblings, including the subtle snailing and luminous hands.
A date aperture features between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock. White text is presented on a black date disc and proffers good legibility.
Framing the dial is a chapter ring, comprising white strokes of varying length, showing seconds and parts thereof. Nestled along the southern aspect of the dial, amidst the chapter ring, are the words “Swiss Made”, reminding the wearer there is high quality Swiss horology within.
The Bvlgari Bvlgari Chronographe steel case
The highly polished case shines with its spangle-like appearance. I wore the bracelet version with satin brushed rectangular shaped links spanning its otherwise highly polished form. I like the bracelet, however, some may prefer the strap which may soften the appearance of the watch and appear a little more discreet. Thankfully Bulgari have bestowed choice to the would-be buyer and most personality types will be well served with the options provided.
By modern-day standards the watch does not appear unduly large, measuring 41 mm in diameter. I found the watch to be comfortable. It is a highly wearable size. Moreover, those of diminutive stature should find that the short lugs and case size allow a comfortable interface with the wrist.
The iconic Bulgari Bulgari bezel of the 1977 has been retained. It still proffers a unique aesthetic which remains attractive, despite the passage of time. Accomplished design never succumbs to the fickle fate of fashion and remains unsullied with the onset of years. The bezel is slightly cambered, eliciting a wonderful interplay with light and shade.
The rectangular shaped push-pieces are neat, without unduly protruding. They have a smooth, positive action and encourage inquisitive digits to repeatedly press their highly polished surfaces.
A black circular disc features on the vertical flank of the crown. It is a pleasing touch, connecting the crown with the adjacent dial colour. A small recess on the caseband beneath the crown helps pull the crown outwards.
This leads me to the only criticism of the watch. Whilst setting the time and winding the watch, I found it difficult to turn the crown without catching, my admittedly large, fingers on the adjacent push-pieces. It has made me wonder whether the push-pieces would have been better if presented in circular form, but then that would possibly have compromised the devilishly handsome good looks.
The caseback features an exhibition back. The resultant view of the movement is superb and allows the discerning wearer to appreciate the meritorious assemblage of components within this high-end timepiece.
The Calibre BVL 328: a high quality movement
The Calibre BVL 328 is a self-winding movement with a frequency of 36,000 vph (5 Hz). This is clearly a high quality movement.
Close examination of the micro-mechanics reveals some impressive details. This is a column-wheel chronograph which will find favour with discerning cognoscenti.
Those who share my obsession with finissage will appreciate the fine finishing exampled on the BVL 328. The oscillating weight is adorned with Côtes de Genève motif and is partly open-worked to facilitate the view of the components beneath.
Blued screws sit adjacent mirror-polished screws. Both appear blemish free with well-defined slots, presented in matchless glory. The wheels are satin-brushed and the pivots are highly polished. There is much virtue residing within the case.
I particularly like the architecture of the movement, it reminds me of the older movements of yesteryear before everything was covered with oversized bridges. Bulgari have indulged my admiring eyes with a delicious fest of finely executed components magnificently collaborating to impart time.
An exquisite timepiece from Bulgari
In some areas of life, style usurps substance. However, that is not the case with this exquisite timepiece from Bulgari.
I have run my fingers over every facet of its handsome form and can report the quality is excellent.
The Italian brand has a long history of creating beautiful items. In terms of making handsome timepieces, Bulgari have shown the watchmaking industry, and fans of horology, they it is a serious producer of high-end watches. The company embraces all that is wonderful about Italian design prowess and Swiss precision engineering. Indeed, this pulchritudinous star with chiseled features, contains a noble movement proffering the faultless precision.
Bulgari have taken an iconic design and refined it to accomplished effect. It only leads me to ask, what we can expect in the future?
Bulgari Bulgari Chronograph technical specification
- Model: Bulgari Bulgari Chronograph
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 41.00 mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; date; chronograph.
- Movement: BVL 328, self-winding movement; frequency 36,000 vph (5Hz); 31 jewels; power reserve 50 hours
- Bracelet: Steel bracelet with folding clasp. Also available on strap.