Looking Back On LVMH Watch Week With Bulgari’s Managing Director Antoine Pin
Watchonista Zoomed to Geneva and spoke with the managing director of Bulgari to look at the brand’s latest record-breaking and genre-busting designs.
While this marks the second year in a row that we’ve experienced LVMH Watch Week remotely, there are few people in the watch industry that can make a Zoom presentation come alive quite like Bulgari’s Managing Director Antoine Pin.
We sat down to virtually preview the latest 2022 offerings, but, ever curious, we also asked Pin about Bulgari’s amazing innovations and what drives them.
Time is Precious
Speaking from Geneva, Pin first presents the Serpenti Misteriosi high jewelry secret watch and its micro-engineered BVL100 manually-winding Piccolissimo movement. This timepiece is ingenious in every aspect, from the articulated gem-set and enameled bracelet to the dial cover that flicks open with the push of a tongue.
“The goal was two bridge two worlds between being a jeweler and watchmaker,” said Pin. He holds up the tiny mechanism to the camera. It is smaller than his fingernail. “Some have been vocal that Bulgari can’t address all the questions in the world of watchmaking. But we can minimize the constraint of the movement.”
In this case, Bulgari has made it possible to treat the timepiece like a gem, freeing the designers to devise a piece that incorporates the time fluidly. And the backwound movement can be popped out of its setting for service or to accommodate the wearer if they want to wear it on the right wrist instead of the left.
Versatility will come up frequently in our conversation. And not just in how to wear a watch, but in Bulgari’s approach to watchmaking. Firstly, the brand likes to break records. For instance, as Pin pointed out: While the Jaeger-LeCoultre 101 may be the world’s smallest caliber, it is slightly longer than the Piccolissimo. Thus Bulgari’s new Piccolissimo is the tiniest round movement.
“How do we express ‘Jeweler of Time?’ ” asked Pin. The answer is that the technology of craftsmanship is just as important as tweaking a mechanism.
The Journey is the Reward
For Bulgari, exploring the world of micro-mechanics has led not only to a bevy of records in its Octo collection, including the smallest and thinnest watches in creation. And the brand has built on innovations made in the development of other, genre-defying complications.
According to Pin, the brand is not so much interested in perpetuating its history-making watches, as it is pushing the limits of its craft. It’s very much like how a jazz musician must master the scales before they can begin to improvise. “With the acquisition of Genta in 2000, we were able to build on mechanisms, which allowed us to reach a level where we can now talk about DNA,” explained Pin.
Later in a discussion about the brand’s marketing and communications strategy, Pin commented, “Zoom has made it easier to listen to stores and the market. Clients want mechanical, not quartz. And vintage is selling very well.” Bulgari also aims to bring a variety of voices to the table: “We have the resource of our partners. For example, we have a barrel so tiny that was created just for us. It was tricky, but we have a network that trusts us.”
“It’s difficult to say how we do it,” Pin continued. “The important thing is that we let everybody talk. I have one project in mind that is going to come next year. The idea came from a supplier. We have learned to say ‘Why Not?’
“We love creativity. The genius of engineering watches based on beauty is our way to express what beauty is about… With Lucea, the challenge is to bring the same level of inspiration to this more affordable line.”
For the houses’ artisans, that meant being able to play with dial materials like mother-of-pearl and aventurine in a way that captures the light like the facets of a diamond. “Sometimes I say these watches require more ingenuity,” said Pin. “It’s extremely satisfying.”
As for the future, Pin promises even more beautiful creations later this year, saying, “Hopefully, we can all meet in June, and I can show you what’s next.” However, no matter what the road holds for us, he added, “Part of moving forward is taking a chance to go to a place where no one has been before. Fingers crossed it’s working.”
(Images © Bvlgari)