Bulgari Interview with Jean-Christophe Babin
Our correspondent in Venezuela, Rafael Fernandez, quizzed Bulgari’s CEO Jean-Christophe Babin on his first two years in the job.
Bulgari has very strong designs such as Bulgari-Bulgari, Diagono and Octo. Why do you think they have remained so successful in an ever-changing industry?
Bulgari’s DNA is Rome and 2700 years of unrivalled arts and architecture. This has led to the creation of unique watch designs. And this is precisely what makes the brand atypical in the world of watchmaking, often a very normed and classical industry. Our own watchmaking creates products that have a lot of character, a lot of vigour. They are very structured, without compromise, one could say. These are products that feature the typical elements of the Italian design, especially the innovation and the usage of unusual materials and that reflect Rome, because Rome is awe-inspiring, it is magnificent, it is also a city that stands no compromise, regardless of the century. Whether you are looking at the Coliseum, which goes all the way back to ancient Rome, or some of the more recent palaces from the neoclassical era, you will always find that power, that opulence in our jewellery and our watches.
You have been CEO of Bulgari for almost two years. In such a short period of time what have been the greatest accomplishments of your team and your biggest challenge thus far?
As far as the watch business is concerned, I'm particularly proud of the new Bulgari Finissimo Tourbillon which, besides establishing a stunning 1.95mm/5mm new world record for thinness, features the unique Octo design that makes it a very elegant and slim but also a very strong character watch. Lvcea is another 2014 key introduction with a strong Bulgari identity, which is not conveyed by a logo: it was designed to be round, two-tone and iconic. Lvcea is jewellery-like, very strong yet every day. Moreover I was particularly honoured to have won the “Jewellery Watch” Award at the 14th edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève with a masterpiece of both watchmaking and jewellery know-how, the Diva High Jewellery Emeralds.
Concerning the future challenges, our goal is to move the brand from one of the top 15 brands to one of the top 10 brands worldwide. To do this, we will keep expressing our expertise in Swiss watchmaking and underscoring our Italian designs. We will keep presenting watches that are inspired by Italy, its architecture, that are not shy. They may not be for everyone, but if you love them you are really passionate about them.
With the acquisition of Gerald Genta/Daniel Roth in 2000, Bulgari entered the manufactory segment with great resources. Why should a collector buy a Bulgari Haute Horlogerie piece instead of another well-known brand?
Yes, within a few years Bulgari has developed its mechanical movement production capacities, parallel of course to the complicated movements that have been produced for years in its Le Sentier manufacture: chiming watches up to the Grande Sonnerie (four hammers and four gongs) but also two and three hammers and gongs chiming minute repeaters, and without forgetting our various Tourbillon calibres, bi- and quadri-retrograde display movements to name a few others. Bulgari is clearly today an integrated manufacture with strong capacities in this field, combining Italian creativity and design with Swiss precision.
In terms of basic movements for its collections, Bulgari has presented excellent calibres such as BVL191 used in the Bulgari Octo. Will you continue along these lines?
Bulgari launched in 2013 its Solotempo base calibre, an automatic winding movement which is produced in the brand’s factories in La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Sentier. This base calibre was complemented in 2014 by two new extra-thin manual winding movements, entirely developed and produced in-house: the Finissimo flying Tourbillon – which is the thinnest ever made and consequently a world record with 1.95mm thickness – and the Finissimo small seconds. We still have capacity for growth!
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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