(Not So) Heavy Metal: Bulgari Continues to Rock with Colorful New Aluminium Models
This year, Bulgari upped its affordable watch game by adding five new special editions (three of which are limited production runs) to its iconic Aluminium collection, offering luxury and a lifestyle purchase possible for the masses.
Bulgari surprises us. It delights us. It never ceases to amaze or even amuse us. It’s a brand that, for some, flies under the radar as a watchmaker, but for many, has risen to the position of a “grail” (and rightfully so). But in 1998, the Roman brand was at the start of its steep climb up the mountain of horological respectability.
However, Bulgari wasn’t alone in its ascent because 1998 was a year of upward growth for many companies and even entire industries. After all, 1998 is the year that introduced the world to the search engine Google, the iMac computer, and, well, Viagra (we’ll let you readers draw the parallel on that one).
Meanwhile, in the watch industry, it was the year when sport met science in the form of the Bulgari Aluminium watch.
Nineties Knowhow: Light is Might
Discovered in 1825 by Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted, aluminum (atomic number 13) became widely available to the public by 1886 and was used for aviation purposes in both World Wars I and II. By 1954, aluminum became the most produced non-ferrous metal in the world (for the non-chemists in this room, “non-ferrous” means it’s a metal that doesn’t contain any appreciable amounts of iron). And by the 21st century, aluminum (the twelfth-most common element in the universe) was being used for transportation, engineering, construction, and packaging.
But somewhere along that timeline, Bulgari decided to use it for watches.
As previously mentioned, the late 1990s were innovative, daring, and frankly, a bit ballsy; three adjectives that could easily apply to the Bulgari brand, both then and now, so using aluminum alongside rubber (GASP! RUBBER??) may have seemed a stretch to some, but for a brand that advertised this watch on the side of an Alitalia 747 jumbo jet, it was all in a day’s work.
With the Aluminium collection, Bulgari offered a daring and lightweight sports watch crafted in a size that was gender neutral (again, ahead of its time). It was even affordable to many. In short, the Aluminium was a win for the brand and for people who wished to own a timepiece issued by the highly respected Italian label.
A Quarter Century Later, Not Everything is Black and White
Well, okay, some things are still black and white. Take, for instance, the new 41mm Aluminium Chrono White and Chrono Black, released recently.
While Bulgari offered a version of the Aluminium chronograph with a panda-style dial when it relaunched the collection in 2020, this year, its size has been bumped up from 40mm to 41mm. Moreover, the 2020 version contained the B130 movement (using an ETA #2894 base), while the 2023 model uses the self-winding B381 calibre movement with a 42-hour power reserve.
In addition to offering an updated panda model, Bulgari has also added a version of the chronograph with a black-on-black dial ($4,640) to the collection as well, complete with the same Super-LumiNova and accented by a silvered chronograph seconds hand with a red tip and silvered counter hands.
Both the panda and black chronograph versions are water resistant to 100 meters and are accompanied by a titanium caseback, crown, and pushers, all coated with DLC.
Current Status: Color Us Happy
Bulgari also launched new versions of the Aluminium line in colors (colors, you say? COLORS, INDEED!); the blue Capri Edition, in both the Solotempo and the Chronograph models, and the green Match Point Edition, non-chronograph.
The Aluminium Capri Solotempo features, as with all Aluminium watches, the “Bvlgari-Bvlgari” inscription on the bezel, but what’s different is the fact that it pays homage to the water surrounding Capri and the general vibe of the island, with the Solotempo and Aluminium Capri Chronograph versions (both 40mm) come with a caseback enhanced with an engraved depiction of the Faraglioni (the recognizable rock formations) of Capri. Additionally, the soothing blue dial color of both these 1,000-piece limited editions’ nods to the Bay of Naples and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Meanwhile, their accompanying rubber strap comes in a matching Tyrrhenian blue.
Lastly, the Solotempo ($3,350) is powered by the calibre B77 movement with date function, and the Chronograph ($4,800) is powered by the calibre B130 movement, both with a 42-hour power reserve.
Game, Set, Match Point Edition
Like the Solotempo, the 40mm Aluminium Match Point Edition also contains the calibre B77 movement. However, this version is geared toward the tennis enthusiast with its lightweight structure, Velcro strap, grassy-green color, and left-handed crown.
An ideal watch for the court and the clubhouse, the Match Point Edition’s white dial is decorated with green luminescent hands and indices accented by a yellow luminescent dot. And the caseback of this 800-piece limited edition features a tennis ball engraving, which also coincides with the packaging in which the Aluminium Match Point Edition will come.