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LVMH Watch Week
Bulgari - Antoine Pin at LVMH Watch Week

Bulgari Antoine Pin at LVMH Watch Week

At the LVMH Watch Week, WorldTempus met with Antoine Pin, managing director of Bulgari’s Watchmaking Division, who agreed to share his plans for the coming year with our readers

What has the start of the year been like for Bulgari?
It’s been very positive. After the upset of 2020, 2021 was a year of ongoing recovery, with brand recognition growing strongly in every region alongside increased demand for all our collections across all price segments. 2022 looks set to bring more of the same, which makes us very optimistic, but also makes us keen to understand the nature of the demand. We’re continuing our efforts in terms of product and movement development, as you will have seen in our launches at the LVMH Watch Days in January, with the Piccolissimo calibre. We’re still riding the wave that started to build in 2021. It’s a strong motivator for our internal teams, but this year it’s amplified by market traction, which is accelerating the dynamic even more.

Antoine Pin aux LVMH Watch Days

Piccolissimo BLV-100 Caliber © Bulgari

During LVMH Watch Week, you focused on the exceptional.
I always insist that Bulgari offers products that are accessible as well as exceptional. Clearly, the exceptional items steal much of the spotlight from our other products, but we did present innovations in the Lvcea and Serpenti collections, although they’re obviously less impressive than our sonnerie watches. The Lvcea Intarsia with aventurine dial, for example, has been a great success. It’s a cocktail watch priced at under CHF 10,000, which is unusual for a precious watch. It showcases artistic crafts such as marquetry and fine gem-setting, as well as precious materials. Light reflects off the faceted diamonds and spangled dark blue aventurine, which evokes a starry night. At this price, it’s quite an aesthetic feat. It’s important for Bulgari to be able to share a sense of what is precious, an aesthetic identity, the art of watchmaking and jewellery technique – at a reasonable price. The 5 to 10K segment remains very important for us, although it’s getting more difficult because cost price is an issue. Our team must be able to convince less well-off clients to join the Bulgari adventure. Our distribution network is broad, because Bulgari offers jewellery that starts at just CHF 1500, and we want to involve these clients in our watchmaking story, open the door to them, with products that convey our values. 

Antoine Pin aux LVMH Watch Days

Lvcea Intarsio Aventurine © Bulgari

Are women interested in the performance aspects of the Piccolissimo calibre?
We’ve noticed a real demand for our women’s mechanical timepieces. We keep selling out; we can’t keep up with demand. But the Piccolissimo hasn’t come about merely from analysing the women’s mechanical watch market. We defined a movement strategy a few years back, and we paid particular attention to the issue of miniaturisation. A small movement naturally provides a jeweller and designer with an opportunity to propose products that are more elegant and more creative, because there are fewer constraints. We began this journey with the Finissimo, and the ultimate elegance of ultra-thin watches, but it was entirely logical then to transfer the miniaturisation symbolised by the Octo Finissimo to smaller diameter watches, particularly jewellery watches. We created the Piccolissimo calibre, which became the logical second chapter in our miniaturisation story. During LVMH Watch Days, people understood that the Finissimo saga wasn’t a single inspired idea: it was part of the coherent vision of a luxury brand. We’ve been fortunate to be able to develop a vision that preceded our market analysis. 

But there’s another reason we thought it logical to rethink our jewellery watch calibres – a reason that has become very topical. In a world that is increasingly sensitive to issues of durability and the protection of the environment, what could be more appropriate than developing a watch that doesn’t require electricity or electronic components, and which won’t be obsolete in twenty or fifty years?

Antoine Pin aux LVMH Watch Days

Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic © Bulgari

The Bulgari brand has evolved considerably. How would you describe it today?
A brand must regularly return to its origins, to its deepest identity and raison d’être. When we develop a new model, it must reflect the codes of our jewellery, or of our Italian-ness. We always ask ourselves the same question: how can Bulgari the Roman jeweller add value to the world of the Swiss watch? How should we translate our differentiating features, this mix of creativity and rigour, which guides our product strategy? In the 2000s Bulgari was very popular; it was open to the world. Then we bought Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth, and the brand moved upmarket and became more elitist. Today, we’re aiming for the happy medium, where the cultural side can coexists with the proximity that the brand also conveys. Being universal requires a delicate balancing act.

Today, we’re comfortable with the coherent diversity of our offer, which extends from the legendary BB Aluminium, a symbol of the chic Italian lifestyle, sociable and versatile, to our new Serpenti Misteriosi, which is an extraordinary accomplishment in terms of both fine jewellery and horology.

Antoine Pin aux LVMH Watch Days

Serpenti Misteriosi Romani © Bulgari

What are the challenges facing Bulgari today?
We have to be able to keep up with evolutions in how the brand is perceived, and respond to the demand, at what is a very chaotic time for the world. We are continually faced with upsets that require short-term responses, whereas watch industry planning is a long-term thing. It’s particularly crucial in a highly integrated manufacture like ours, which demands considerable industrial investment, and which has a large workforce. We can’t tweak our human resources according to export volumes. On the contrary: we have a long-term relationship with our staff. We’re committed to training and retaining them, and that requires a sound long-term vision. 

Antoine Pin aux LVMH Watch Days

Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewellery © Bulgari

The Geneva Watch Days were initiated by Bulgari, Breitling and Ulysse Nardin. Will you be organising a third edition?
As soon as the last edition ended, all the members said they wanted to continue. The Geneva authorities also confirmed their support. Everyone loved it, including journalists, some of whom said it was the best watch event they’d ever attended. This was down to the relaxed atmosphere, the late summer in Geneva, the fresh air, the fact that people could meet up in person, and set their own agendas. The format was very well received, and we’ve already had applications from some new participants. We need to find the right balance between welcoming new brands and keeping the original spirit of Geneva Watch Days. The organisational itself is still relatively light, with a great deal of commitment required from the brands. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry will also be involved, and will help to give the event greater visibility with some new initiatives that we’ll announce in due course. It’s my hope that the Geneva Watch Days will incorporate a new cultural element, which will help to introduce the event to new audiences.

Antoine Pin aux LVMH Watch Days

Antoine Pin, Horology General Director © Bulgari

 

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