Bulgari Interview with Antoine Pin
The head of the watch division at Bulgari shares his insights about the brand’s novelties at this year’s LVMH Watch Week
Ladies first! Which is your pick among the three feminine collections?
The Serpenti Spiga has taken our iconic feminine collection to the next level in the affirmation of jewellery watches. Previously, the tubular structure of the bracelet didn't allow for stone-setting, but our artisans have come up with a solution for this. Thanks to the 40 small links wrapped around the bracelet spring, the links are held together in position while the tail is soldered, allowing enough space to set the bracelet while still maintaining the flexibility of its construction. The jeweller's art, which has always been present on the dial and case, is thus presented on the bracelet as well. It's not necessarily the most spectacular feminine watch we've made, but it's the most important, because we have reached a high point in the exercise of jewellery watches, which opens up long-term perspectives for us, with several developmental possibilities.
Serpenti Spiga © Bulgari
Regarding the Divas' Dream and Lucea collections, what sets the new models of 2021 apart?
For me, the Divas' Dream Peacock represents an appeal to the senses; it's a real treat, working on this kind of product. There have been peacocks for thousands of years in the region surrounding Rome. As jewellers we aspire to express the beauty of nature, and peacock feathers are incredibly fascinating. They fall naturally from the peacock, so it's perfectly ethical to use them. Our craftsmen are then free to work them into marquetry or inserts like in the Divas' Dream Peacock Tourbillon. We present a trilogy, equipped with three different in-house calibres with different levels of complexity, and the harmony you see between the case and the movement is remarkable. Several weeks are necessary to create the dials and only a few dozen models will be sold every year. I'm proud of this symbiosis between our jeweller's identity and our watchmaker's know-how, which is always growing stronger.
Antoine Pin © Bulgari
The Lucea therefore remains the entry-level product?
Yes, but paradoxically, the Lucea is doubtlessly the product on which the strongest effort has been made! We gave reinvented the mother-of-pearl dial, using marquetry techniques to assemble a hundred tiny pieces of mother of pearl into a three-dimensional dial. Bringing artisanal techniques to a watch that costs between 5,000 and 10,000 SFr is really a special feat. Here too, our watches convey the message that Bulgari is the Roman jeweller of our time. Italian stylistic design must be reflected as strongly in our products for men as for women. We have reduced the number of references in order to assert this difference, and we are challenged to increase the added value of our products. It took a lot of thought and creativity to offer our customers a very high added value.
Lvcea © Bulgari
Your flagship collection Octo Finissimo is enriched by a steel chronograph with GMT function, what does it bring to the collection strategically?
With the Octo Finissimo in titanium, which collectors adore, Bulgari has a high-concept, stylish piece: monochromatic, ultra-thin, full titanium, pure. But the average watch lover is used to feeling a certain weight and volume on his wrist, and may be less at ease with the extreme lightness of the titanium model. The new chronograph GMT in steel provides an entry point to such a customer, something he understands far better and can wear in comfort every day since it conforms to industry standards (colour, water resistance to 100m, screw-down crown). It's a segment that is more accessible, with a wide appeal, and which has also accelerated sales.
Octo Finissimo S Chronographe GMT Acier © Bulgari
Bulgari has also launched a grand complication: the Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon, with a contemporary and sober design; is it a form of understatement?
This piece is highly expressive, totally in keeping with our Italian style, and it also transmits our desire to anchor our watchmaking in the modern world. We often observe a tendency for minute repeaters to look a little old-fashioned, and this is something we'd like to change. We have concentrated our efforts on a stylistic expression that is more assertive than usual in this type of watch, and on the quality of sound transmission. We have used the base of the Octo Grande Sonnerie, fixing the gongs to the case and not to the movement. In view of achieving a superior acoustic performance, the case has been hollowed to minimise the amount of titanium, so as not to inhibit sound propagation, and you can see in it a distinctive honeycomb structure.
Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon © Bulgari
During your LVMH Watch Week presentation, you announced that you would like to highlight the expertise of Bulgari in decoration, miniaturisation, stone-setting, etc. How do you plan to do this?
We do this first of all in our collections, notably the Divas' Dream Peacock, but also through films featuring our artisans. We have paid tribute to them by asking them to talk about themselves and their crafts. They are fascinating and convey a lot of emotion, while at the same time testifying to how solid Bulgari's manufacturing nature is. I'm proud of this film and of our craftsmen, whether it's the designer or the polisher, who talk so intensely about their craft that it gives the impression that the fate of the world depends on it; it's magnificent.
Divas' Dream Peacock © Bulgari
You have been at the helm of Bulgari watchmaking since the end of 2019, under the challenging conditions that we know followed. Are you confident about 2021?
Those who know me know that I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy. I can tell you that in 2020 we were able to adapt. We handle these situations so much better by taking a positive approach. This is what drives us, our energy is infectious, we are animated by passion and motivation; in short, we are ready for 2021.
Bulgari has its own clear definition of excellence, which involves the perfect balance between design, added-value, quality of its products and its worldwide service. In the case of Bulgari watches, it all started with the Bulgari Bulgari watch that led to the creation of Bulgari Time in Switzerland in 1982.Find out more >
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