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Bulgari - Octo Roma Naturalia X Wang Yan Cheng

Bulgari Octo Roma Naturalia X Wang Yan Cheng

When exceptional mechanics become a canvas for master works

A work of lyrical and mechanical abstraction: watchmaking artistry merges with contemporary visual art to celebrate an openness to the world and the vibrancy of colours, to connect the arts and their artists, their savoir faire and their creativity.

Octo Roma Naturalia X Wang Yan Cheng

Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng © Bulgari

In 2021, Bulgari launched a new line within the Octo family: Octo Roma Naturalia, the watch born from ornamental stone, such as onyx and malachite, integrated into the BVL 206 skeleton tourbillon calibre, made bespoke. Today, Bulgari brings together time, culture and contemporary art by taking the Art of personalisation, and the personalisation of Art, to a higher level. The Italian watch marque presents a limited edition of eight one-off timepieces created in collaboration with the Chinese-French artist Wang Yan Cheng. Each of these exceptionally rare watches is a canvas for the artist, based on the design of the 44-mm Octo Roma in black titanium with a skeleton flying tourbillon movement and sandblasted surfaces. Each Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng carries the inscription “Pièce Unique”. Bulgari's watchmaking mastery welcomes Art, playing to the inspiration of a contemporary, vibrant, unique and recognised talent.

Octo Roma Naturalia X Wang Yan Cheng

Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng © Bulgari

Considered to be one of the most important painters of the Chinese contemporary art scene, Wang Yan Cheng is a singular artist, straddling the East and the West. Born in 1960, he gained international recognition in the 1990s, at the leading edge of the lyrical abstraction movement. A master of colour and vibrant contrasts, Wang Yan Cheng paints large formats in oil in several successive layers, dripping fluid paint onto textured backgrounds, creating a seemingly random relationship with the work whilst maintaining control. Artistic mastery at its most exacting. “The unexpected, mastered” is also what teaches and passes on in renowned art institutes both in China and France.

Octo Roma Naturalia X Wang Yan Cheng

Wang Yan Cheng © Bulgari

By opening a new horizon where mechanical technique and artistic sensitivity converge, by inspiring a distinctive aesthetic that allows the new to emerge, unencumbered by legacy, Octo Roma Naturalia again proves the perfect platform for Bulgari's most remarkable projects – in particular those of an artistic nature, such as this collaboration with the painter Wang Yan Cheng. Its expressiveness comes with a unique ability to welcome the new into its own nature. And there is the knowledge that no two watches are alike. This is rooted in the Maison’s culture of high jewellery: Each piece of the Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng is visually unique and comes with a more than century-old expertise of stones and colours that fuses design and technology, resonating with the primeval, organic forces of nature.

Octo Roma Naturalia X Wang Yan Cheng

Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng © Bulgari

The skeleton movement creates a vast space that naturally lends itself to the inclusion of materials, patterns and creations of many kinds. Here, a stratum within the calibre BVL 206 has been freed to provide Wang Yan Cheng with a canvas for his vision. The piece’s sophisticated nature, its unique design and unexpected architectural flexibility combine with the possibilities for expression afforded by the skeleton framework. Together, all these facets build a timepiece on an entirely new plane of artistry in terms of engineering and design.

Wang Yan Cheng comments: “In my artistic life as in my state of life, there are no boundaries. It’s like energies mixing in the air, like water in the colours, everything meets in time, only to leave its imprint.”

Octo Roma Naturalia X Wang Yan Cheng

Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng © Bulgari

Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Product Creation Executive Director of Bulgari, has long held the desire to offer a creative space to the artist: “At the very beginning, we imagined and created this watch as a blank canvas to give free rein to individual and artistic expression. For this series of eight pieces, each unique model blends the art of painting with the art of watchmaking.”

Each watch merges the finesse, delicacy and precision of the craftsman’s gestures drawn from the heritage of Asian calligraphy with the materials and the freedom of expression and abstraction of Western culture. Together, they selected a total of eight original works. Eight paintings whose original large format had to be miniaturised, which in turn required calling on the rare specialists who still mastered the skills to achieve the task with precision. Each one of the eight Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng watches also had to remain faithful to its mineral identity. The Bulgari dial workshop therefore undertook to reproduce the works on black onyx plates. Although working with this stone is complex and delicate, its richness and evocative power made it the natural choice. 

Octo Roma Naturalia X Wang Yan Cheng

Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng © Bulgari

These eight miniaturised works of art were then skilfully cut to fit the many contours, curves and lines within the constraints of the BVL 206 calibre – it measures just 31.5 by 31.5 millimetres. From the back, each Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng must also appear completely black, one of the characteristics of onyx. The outcome of this meticulous process: eight pieces of a truly unique nature, each one an authentic work of art, on a canvas that is all the more noble for its setting in a timekeeper, for its spirit, and its possibilities.

Like the canvas for the artist, the Octo Roma’s case is a space for expression. Each watch is assembled by hand from start to finish in Bulgari's Haute Horlogerie workshops. The manner in which it is skeletonised gives the calibre BVL 206 a strong sense of depth and substance. The essential components are gathered in its centre. Its flying tourbillon, unencumbered by an upper bridge, is installed at 6 o'clock. Most of the space surrounding these elements is therefore free, punctuated only by the pillars which Bulgari has turned into hour markers. Through this structured and functional lacework, the poetry and uniqueness of Wang Yan Cheng's work emerge with all their vitality. The extent of Bulgari's watchmaking capabilities gives way to Art, playing to the inspiration of a contemporary, vibrant, unique and recognised talent. 

Octo Roma Naturalia X Wang Yan Cheng

Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng © Bulgari

The 44-mm case of Octo Roma Naturalia x Wang Yan Cheng is entirely black. It is composed of black DLC titanium elements with sandblasted surfaces enclosing the container that carries the movement. Here, too, the mineral spirit is asserted with a layer of onyx inserted between the case middle and the bezel. Discreet yet stunning, the entire BVL 206 calibre is interpreted in a contemporary manner, in black. Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani and Wang Yan Cheng’s use of the colour amplifies the canvas’s depth. Thanks to this interplay of contrasts, what the work of art expresses rises to the eye through the movement. Each of these unique artistic spaces, in a series of eight, emerges from a technical framework of perfect rarity. 

 

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