Bulgari “We are a brand driven by style, not by technical matters”
From his office in Neuchâtel, Guido Terreni, managing director of Bulgari Watches, answers Worldtempus’s questions. Italian by birth but Swiss by adoption, he outlines his vision for th brand, its characteristics and its horlogical strengths.
How are the Bulgari models split between men and women?
For years, Bulgari has addressed its natural conversation partner, women. And we have enormous potential for development because the brand is very powerful. After joining the LVMH group we focused on our core business, which is, in order, jewellery, ladies’ watches and gents’ watches.
How did the gents’ watches start out?
In the 1970s, Bulgari had nothing to offer men who entered its stores. The Bulgari brothers therefore created the Bulgari Roma, their first gents’ watch, which will soon celebrate its 40th birthday. In 1982, we set up Bulgari Time, based in Geneva, before moving to Neuchâtel. At the turn of the millennium we started a process of vertical integration by acquiring manufacturers of cases, dials and straps, and ultimately the high-end manufacturers Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth. In 2011 we brought all of these together under the name Bulgari Horlogerie so that everybody could talk to each other directly. This choral vision gives us a much richer product culture.
Can you present the collections that you offer?
There are a lot. For the past five years I have been cutting away the dead wood. Today Serpenti is our leading collection in terms of value. B01 is our entry-level, which is a fresher range, a joyful and playful object. Bulgari Bulgari is our most institutional line. You either love or hate the logo engraved on the bezel. And Lucea is our new pillar.
What needs does it meet?
It was designed to be round, two-tone and iconic. We don’t have so many round models in the collection. Lucea was developed around its steel-gold version and it has a strong Bulgari identity, which is not conveyed by a logo. It is jewellery-like, very strong yet everyday. And, of course, we have our range of high jewellery watches, the Diva and others, where there is more creative freedom and we express a high level of glamour. This is restricted to high jewellery pieces like those in our new Musa collection that will be presented at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris.
And for men?
The new Octo embodies our abilities in terms of design and watchmaking. It came from the heritage of Gérald Genta but it is an ambassador of our know-how: its case has 110 facets and not one of them is at an angle greater than 45 degrees. Its dial sets the tone, much like the bassist in an orchestra. The case brings the complexity and the dial must therefore bring calm and subtlety. The lacquered and polished black is deep. It is not just a simple black, it has sophistication. Not to mention the suppleness and comfort of the metal bracelet.
How did you design the ultra-thin versions?
The case was redesigned, keeping the 110 facets, but the case on the Tourbillon Finissimo is only 5mm thick. On the Finissimo, we did not put the small seconds into a recess in order to save on height. We kept a very smooth black surface that is part of this model’s DNA. And we moved it to 7.30 in order to keep the hour markers at 6 and 12 which are one of our signatures. We are a brand that is driven by style, not by technical matters.
And the other collections?
Bulgari Bulgari celebrates its 40th anniversary next year. The main inspiration behind the collectionis numismatic, from the time when emperors would stamp their name on coins. The Bulgari Roma is a reminder of a brand asserting itself. Giorgio Bulgari, for example, placed a logo in the Bulgari store in Rome that covered three display windows – this at a time when nobody showed their name. It was his personality. The Diagono collection accounts for a lot of our chronographs and the Roth case (editor’s note: a circle cut by two vertical sectors on the sides) is working very well with the grand complications. The rest has been discarded because it was born from a culture of jewellery making, where you produce one collection each year. In watchmaking, this is not possible and I readily admit that this was a mistake.
Where do your movements come from?
We have little need for manufacture movements for our ladies’ watches. We use quartz movements from ETA for the Serpenti and B01 models. The cases are too small for anything else. The self-winding movements are from ETA. And we also have complications, which ladies are buying more and more, such as the Tourbillon Rétrograde Berries, the Giardino Tropicale…
And for the men’s models?
The first Bulgari movement was launched in 2007. It was a perilous journey, a difficult project and one that was educational. With the Bvl191, it has now reached its conclusion. The Solotempo has its signature, its design and above all a lot of torque so that we can add the complications that we have in development. The Finissimo calibre (editor’s note : 2.23mm thick and 70 hours of power reserve) is in a very different segment. It is 15 lignes (33.8mm) because I like to fill the case back. This allows the calibre to breathe and to spread out its components.
Which chronograph do you use?
Last year, we used an El Primero in a Bulgari Bulgari for the first time. This year, we will use it in the Octo Velocissimo, which is named after its 5 Hz frequency. We have commitments on volume from Zenith (editor’s note: Zenith is also a member of the LVMH group), and the P400 will become the Bulgari chronograph.
And for complications?
Our high-end workshop in Le Sentier in the Vallée de Joux has the capacity to produce highly innovative pieces. For example, we have four different minute-repeater and grande sonnerie movements. Give that the tourbillon is becoming less and less exclusive, the Grande Sonnerie is the pinnacle of the art of watchmaking and we have three people who assemble them in-house.
A word on the Ammiraglio del Tempo?
It is a chronometer with detent escapement, constant force and minute-repeater that we presented at Baselworld in 2014. It is the first Roth case that is a genuine Bulgari. It has been redesigned, made more modern, without its godrons, with a pure dial sculpted from the mass. For longevity we need this purity, not something baroque. And the technical finesse helps this, creating emotion. You cannot even see the lever that activates the chime, since it is incorporated into one of the lugs. The watch is big and this allows you to see the cathedral gongs through the domed sapphire crystal, which forms a resonance chamber.
How important is this watch to you?
It is important to continue to consolidate the image of a jewellery brand that knows how to produce high-end watches. We have a genuine know-how, but we still have some way to go to develop it further.
Do you put the emphasis on industrial logic?
We put the emphasis on know-how. Cadrans Design, today Bulgari Cadrans, produced dials in very small series. Today, without any reduction in quality, we produce 30,000 dials per year and 99% of them are delivered on time. Our case manufacturer has increased production from 5,000 to 38,000 units per year, maintaining the same quality levels. Putting everyone under the same roof and under the same name brings them closer together. With this approach, we have fédéré and recruited more than 30 people at the manufacture in Le Sentier. At the same time, our average price for gents’ watches has tripled in 10 years.
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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