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Bvlgari: Italian Luxury Since 1884
Bvlgari watches stand out with their elegant designs and fantastic craftsmanship. While most Bvlgari in-house calibers are extremely flat, many still feature practical complications like a tourbillon, GMT function, or chronograph.
5 Reasons to Buy a Bvlgari Watch
- Fine Italian design
- Swiss precision and craftsmanship
- Remarkably flat in-house calibers
- Top models with a tourbillon, GMT function, or chronograph
- Women's models with gemstones
Italian Style Meets Swiss Watchmaking
When Greek silversmith Sotirios Voulgaris (or "Sotirio Bulgari" in Italian) opened his jewelry and antique shop in Rome in 1881, he never could have imagined that his small business would one day become one of the world's largest luxury goods brands. However, despite their long history, the company didn't enter the watch scene until almost a century later in 1980 when they opened their production facilities in Switzerland. Since then, Bvlgari has been responsible for some spectacular models.
Bvlgari watches sit at the intersection of Italian design and Swiss precision. While the company initially relied on movements from third parties, such as the Zenith El Primero, they now produce most of their calibers in house. Bvlgari has earned a reputation for crafting extremely flat movements, as seen in the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon. At only 1.95 mm thick, it's one of the world's flattest movements with a flying tourbillon. The Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater and Octo Finissimo Chrono GMT are also among the flattest of their kind.
Despite being made in Switzerland, the look of these watches is perhaps best described as Italian chic. Many designs include concepts from famed watch designer Gérald Genta . Bvlgari has been incorporating Genta's ideas into their watches since acquiring his company in 2000. The clearest examples of this are the Octo collection and certain Bvlgari Bvlgari models.
In addition to stainless steel and gold, the manufacturer builds cases out of materials like titanium or ceramic. Bvlgari also uses state-of-the-art movement technology, such as silicon escapements.
How much do Bvlgari watches cost?
|Octo Finissimo Tourbillon||179,000 USD||Platinum, very flat, automatic, tourbillon|
|Bvlgari Bvlgari Tourbillon||83,500 USD||Tourbillon, rose gold|
|Serpenti Tubogas||30,000 USD||Diamonds, rose gold, quartz movement|
|Octo Finissimo Automatic||10,500 USD||Very flat, small seconds|
|Diagono Scuba Chrono||7,100 USD||Chronograph, rose gold|
|Diagono GMT||5,700 USD||Second time zone, stainless steel|
|Octo Roma||4,700 USD||Date, stainless steel|
|Bvlgari Bvlgari Solotempo||4,400 USD||Date, rose gold|
Octo: Extra-Flat Octagonal Watches
The Octo is Bvlgari's most expansive collection. Its name is a reference to the octagonal design of every model's dial and case. A flattened round bezel tops off each of these remarkably thin timepieces.
The Octo Roma is this collection's entry-level model. This three-hand watch measures 41 mm in diameter and is powered by the in-house caliber BVL 191 Solotempo . Like every Octo model, the dial is pared down to the essentials. Applied line indices mark every hour except for 6 and 12 o'clock, which are represented by Arabic numerals. The only other feature is a date display at 3 o'clock. You can purchase a stainless steel model on a leather strap for as little as 4,600 USD. Prices for rose gold models sit around 14,500 USD.
Flat, flatter, flattest – the Octo Finissimo takes the concept of a flat watch to the next level. For example, the Finissimo Automatic is less than 6 mm thick. This is largely thanks to the automatic caliber BVL138. This movement is only 2.23 mm thick and provides this model with a small seconds at 7 o'clock and a 60-hour power reserve. Thanks to its extra facets, the 40-mm case feels even more futuristic than that of the Roma. The Octo Finissimo Automatic is available in stainless steel, rose gold, titanium, or ceramic. Prices range from 7,800 USD for a stainless steel model to 40,500 USD for the rose gold edition.
However, the true stars of the Octo collection are its more complicated models. Examples include the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon with a flying tourbillon, the Finissimo Chrono GMT with a second time zone and chronograph, and the Finissimo Minute Repeater with a minute repeater. Despite their intricate complications, these watches are extremely flat. Even the Chrono GMT and Minute Repeater are under 7 mm thick. Of course, all this luxury has its price. Plan to spend some 14,500 USD on a titanium chronograph model. If you'd prefer a platinum watch with a tourbillon, be sure to have about 179,000 USD on hand.
The Bvlgari Bvlgari Dress Watch
The most prominent feature of each Bvlgari Bvlgari watch is a wide round bezel with the company's name written in the classical Latin alphabet. Thanks to their round cases, these watches feel more traditional than their Octo counterparts. However, both collections share Arabic numerals at 6 and 12 o'clock, as well as line indices.
Another difference between these two collections is their size. Unlike the Octo, the Bvlgari Bvlgari comes in men's and women's sizes. Most of the 23 and 33-mm Lady models contain a quartz movement. What's more, many of these timepieces feature diamonds on their dials and a cabochon-cut stone on their crowns. There are also automatic women's models, including classic three-hand editions and timepieces with a tourbillon. These watches are typically 37 mm in diameter.
Simple quartz-powered models in stainless steel sell for as little as 2,000 USD. Similar editions with diamonds cost roughly 8,400 USD. Prices for automatic women's watches begin around 3,900 USD and top off at 25,000 USD for especially intricate models.
Bvlgari Bvlgari men's watches are 41 mm in diameter. There are three-hand editions with the Solotempo caliber BVL 191, as well as tourbillon watches with the caliber BVL 263. Three-hand models are available in stainless steel, rose gold, or a two-tone combination of both metals. These timepieces demand between 4,000 and 4,400 USD. On the other hand, the tourbillon models come in rose or white gold. These watches are extremely rare and require an investment of some 83,500 USD.
Diagono: Bvlgari's Sports Watch
Bvlgari ceased production of the Diagono collection in 2017. These watches are the Bvlgari Bvlgari's sportier sister models and have the same wide bezel with a double inscription. They also share Bvlgari's typical dial design. However, lugs integrated into the case and a crown protector make the Diagono a true sports watch. Most of these timepieces are made of stainless steel, though certain editions feature a rose gold bezel. There's also the Diagono Magnesium. Its case is a combination of magnesium and temperature-resistant PEEK (polyether ether ketone). PEEK is commonly used in the aerospace and automotive industries.
The Diagono is available as a three-hand watch or chronograph. The in-house Solotempo caliber BVL 191 ticks away inside most of the three-hand editions. These timepieces range from 38 to 41 mm in diameter and cost anywhere from 1,100 to 4,000 USD depending on the material and edition.
Each of the 42-mm chronographs gets its power from either an ETA movement, such as the 2892-A2, or the Zenith El Primero – as is the case with the Diagono Velocissimo. Plan to spend anywhere from 1,400 to 4,500 USD for one of these timepieces.
The Diagono Scuba sees the addition of a diving watch to the series. This timepiece is water-resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft) and features a toothed diving bezel. There's also a screw-down crown and case back. The Scuba comes as a three-hand timepiece, chronograph, or watch with a second time zone. Each version is available in stainless steel, rose gold, or as a two-tone edition. Prices start around 1,700 USD for a simple three-hand watch and go up to 11,000 USD or more for a gold chronograph.
Serpenti: Lithe Luxury
Bvlgari blurs the line between high-end watchmaking and luxury jewelry in their Serpenti and High Jewelry collections. As its name implies, the designs of the Serpenti collection are all inspired by snakes. Each case represents the serpent's head, while the band gracefully wraps around the wearer's arm up to seven times. Most models come in white, rose, or yellow gold; however, there's also a handful of stainless steel editions. Many versions also feature diamond-studded bezels or dials. Quartz movements power these exquisite timepieces.
Depending on the material and amount of twists, Serpenti watches cost between 4,900 and 33,500 USD.
Bvlgari turns the glamour dial up another notch in the High Jewelry series. It contains the most luxurious models from other collections, including the Serpenti. These timepieces come exclusively in rose, white, or yellow gold and are encrusted in diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other gemstones. There are even so-called Serpenti "secret watches" with the watch and its quartz movement hidden away inside the snake's hinged mouth.
The most intricate models can cost upwards of 134,000 USD. Versions with fewer jewels change hands for as little as 39,000 USD.
The History of Bvlgari
Greek silversmith Sotirios Voulgaris founded Bvlgari in Rome in 1884. He had already opened several jewelry and antique shops three years prior. He began operating under the name "Old Curiosity Shop" and mostly sold Art Deco-style jewelry up through the 1930s.
In the 1950s and 60s, Hollywood royalty like Elizabeth Taylor, Clarke Gable, Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn, and Sophia Loren discovered the brand, leading to Bvlgari's international breakthrough. By the mid-1970s, the company had stores in New York, Paris, and Monte Carlo.
Bvlgari established itself as a serious producer of luxury watches in 1980 with the foundation of the Bulgari Haute Horlogerie SA in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. They further cemented this status by acquiring Gérald Genta's brand in 2000. Bvlgari has belonged to the LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE luxury goods conglomerate since 2011.