Virtual Insanity: Bulgari Reveals Two Aluminium x Gran Turismo Special Edition Watches
In addition to its two new Aluminium watch models, the Roman maison also debuted a full-scale version of the all-new Bulgari Aluminium Vision GT concept hypercar at the Gran Turismo World Series Finals in Barcelona.
Now, all has been revealed with Bulgari’s announcement from earlier today during the Gran Turismo World Series Finals in Barcelona: not one but two spectacular special edition Aluminium models – the Bulgari Aluminium x Gran Turismo Special Edition 2023 (references 103893 and 104006) – which reinterpret the classic watch through the lens of the racing simulation game and its full-scale, physical manifestation of a virtual hypercar, the all-new Bulgari Aluminium Vision GT concept car designed for racing in the Gran Turismo game.
Launched in 1997 by Polyphony Digital and developed to be played on PlayStation systems, this series has been loved by two generations of gamers. Its goal is to reproduce the appearance and performance of a large selection of vehicles, most of which are licensed reproductions of real-world automobiles.
However, as the game evolved, Gran Turismo became more than just a simulation and entered the cultural consciousness. For instance, the whole plot of the 2023 movie Gran Turismo hinges on the story of a British gamer who became a real-life professional driver after competing in a PlayStation contest.
Indeed, there’s no arguing that the Gran Turismo series represents a paradigm shift in racing simulation video games. First, with over 90 million units having already been sold worldwide, it is the best-selling video game franchise in PlayStation history. Moreover, it has also become a spectator sport, with millions of fans expected to watch the World Finals in Barcelona this weekend. In fact, fans have become so invested in the game that its virtual car stats are obsessed over with the same attention to detail as a vehicle engineered from metal.
Then there is Vision Gran Turismo. The project, which began with a single question for the giants of automobile design from Gran Turismo founder Kazunori Yamauchi – “Would you design your ideal version of a GT for us?” – has resulted in a series of critically acclaimed, real-life, full-size concept cars that employ not only present-day technology and materials but also propulsion and aerodynamic technologies never before seen in the automotive industry.
Bulgari, of course, is one of the giants of watch design. However, despite being known for engineering some of the world’s thinnest timepieces, its serpentine watches of inestimable beauty, and the brand’s elegant Italian aesthetic, Bulgari’s non-gendered “Italian sport-chic” Aluminium watch model reinvented the luxury watch when it burst on the scene 25 years ago. So much so, in fact, that the Aluminium is still winning awards like the 2023 Red Dot Best of the Best prize.
The brand also has a history with motorsports, like its partnership with Maserati to produce the Octo Maserati GranSport and GranLuss in 2017 or its collaboration with Ducati in 2022 that resulted in the Aluminium Ducati Special Edition Chronograph. It’s also Bulgari’s second eSport collab, having already worked with the multiplayer online battle arena game Honor of Kings earlier this year.
So, the brand took Yamauchi’s challenge to heart, producing both a car and a pair of timepieces to commemorate the anniversary of the Vision Gran Turismo program by echoing these achievements via the combination of graphic lines and shared code cues, like aluminum and rubber, resulting in both the Aluminium x Gran Turismo Special Edition and the Aluminium Vision GT concept car being exciting to ogle.
The Aluminium x Gran Turismo Special Edition chronographs capitalize on the original Aluminium’s cool look with a few revved-up features. For instance, the ref. 103893’s brushed anthracite dial, which provides the base for bright yellow hour markers and numerals and Super-LumiNova-coated hour and minute hands and tachymetric scale, is clearly inspired by the Bulgari Aluminium Vision GT concept car.
Meanwhile, the ref. 104006, with its varnished yellow dial and black hour markers and numerals, is meant to invoke the dashboard dials of the legendary Italian Gran Turismo car from the 1990s. Additionally, the tough but light 41mm black DLC-coated aluminum case used for both models is juxtaposed with the softness of rubber on the Bulgari-emblazoned bezel.
This blend of innovative materials carries into the bracelet’s articulated rubber links, which are connected by aluminum rods, and the crown and caseback, which are forged from high-tech, extra-strong, and lightweight titanium with a black DLC treatment and embossed with the 10th Anniversary Vision GT logo.
Finally, sporting a water resistance of up to 100 meters and powered by the self-winding Calibre B381 mechanical movement featuring a 42-hour power reserve, date display, and chronograph function, if these watches were a car and your wrist was a racecourse, you would say they handle extremely well.
The result of a collaboration between two design gods – Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Product Creation Executive Director at Bulgari, and Fabio Filippini, car designer, design strategy advisor, and founder of ACCAEFFE Creative Consulting Ltd., the Aluminium Vision GT concept car is the automotive expression of Bulgari’s bold style and innovation in several ways.
For instance, the shape and materials used for this concept car reflect the curves of the case and the lines of both models’ articulated bracelet. Additionally, the bodywork features brushed aluminum, carbon for the lower body and technical sections, and black rubber to protect exposed areas, while aluminum, black rubber, anthracite Alcantara, and yellow accents define the interior – all of which echo the ref. 103893.
Finally, the car’s dashboard takes its inspo from the cockpit of the same ‘90s era car that gives the ref. 104006’s its yellow dial.
“I envisioned a different way of playing with Bulgari’s DNA, creating a concept car that speaks the same language as the Bulgari Aluminium watch,” said Buonamassa Stigliani in a press release about the project. “[The Aluminium Vision GT’s] design is based on geometric and angular forms and inspired by the lines of legendary Italian Gran Turismo cars from the 1970s.”
Pricing & Availability
Just as the Gran Turismo game allows the general public to experience the adrenaline-fueled thrill of racing from the comfort of your gaming chair, these Bulgari Aluminium x Gran Turismo Special Edition 2023 models cost only $4,800 each, giving them an even better price point than the rest of the already relatively accessible collection (which typically sees its chronographs clocking in at around $6,000).