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The Millennium Watch Book
Bulgari - Serpenti Seduttori

Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori

Setting records*

Serial record-setter Bulgari established yet another one in 2020, this time with the Serpenti Seduttori tourbillon that has everybody talking.

Known first and foremost as a jewellery house, Bulgari has regularly gone out on a proverbial limb when it comes to innovation and dynamic design. This is true not only with its jewellery, but also, and perhaps more importantly, with its watches. Regularly a record-setter (its Octo collection has established seven world-firsts), the Roman house, known as the Jeweller of Time thanks to its superb blend of high-end watchmaking and exquisitely jewelled expressions, took its time creating a world-first in its beloved Serpenti watch collection.

Serpenti Seduttori

Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon © Bulgari

In fact, it wasn’t until 2020 that Bulgari unveiled the scintillating Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon watch with tourbillon escapement at 6 o’clock. Why is it so special? Because this serpent-head shaped case holds within it the world’s smallest tourbillon-mounted regulating organ. The small-sized mechanical manual-winding BVL150 calibre measures just 3.65mm thick (a seventh of an inch) and was created specifically to fit inside this sleek 34mm diameter case, which measures a mere 8.9mm thick.

The remarkably small calibre holds a tourbillon cage that measures 10.88mm in diameter. It was the result of the brand’s existing expertise in ultra-thin watches (Bulgari had already unveiled the world’s thinnest tourbillon) and in daring innovation. The brand’s world-first status was forever elevated.

Additionally, that Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon ushered in a new era for the beloved serpent watch. First born in the 1940s as a secret watch with a serpent’s head that lifted to reveal the time and a wrap-around Tubogas bracelet that hugged the wrist, the watch became an immediate hit. Subsequent evolutions, including non-secret versions, stone dials and more took the world by storm, making it a modern-day icon. The reintroduction of the line with supple link diamond-set bracelet (and leather straps) was met with resounding applause. The star of the collection, of course, being the Seduttori Tourbillon watch.

As mentioned, the case of this watch was planned as a thin rendition, and so the new shaped movement had to be incredibly thin, as well. Bulgari’s master watchmakers took up the challenge of creating the smallest tourbillon-mounted regulating organ, removing as much metal as possible from the tourbillon components and resorting to a sapphire disc instead of a traditional bridge (which would have blocked much of the view of the tiny tourbillon). The sapphire disc creates the illusion that the tourbillon is a flying tourbillon (anchored by only one bridge), but it is not. The masters at Bulgari even repositioned the winding stem to a six-degree angle (between 2 and 3 o’clock) to achieve as thin a case as possible.

Serpenti Seduttori

Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon © Bulgari

The calibre was actually two years in the research and development stages and would not have been possible without the modern CNC machines and other production methods available to the watch industry today. Despite its tiny size, the manual-winding movement is nonetheless able to offer 40 hours of power reserve. Finishes on the rhodium-plated tourbillon movement include a Côtes de Genève motif, circular-graining and bevelling, all visible through either the tourbillon aperture on the dial side, or via the small transparent sapphire inset on the caseback.

As if the incredible watchmaking prowess of this legendary watch was not enough, the Roman jeweller bedecks the entire timepiece in diamonds. The dial is snow set with brilliant-cut diamonds, while the case and bezel are prong set with diamonds. The entire supple bracelet is also fully set with diamonds in links designed to emulate the scales of the serpent. The watch boasts approximately 800 diamons totalling around 8 carats. Its 30m water resistance is not designed for swimming, but simply to protect the movement. It display the hours and minutes, while revealing the tourbillon-mounted regulating organ.

*This year GMT Magazine and WorldTempus have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years of the Tourbillon in  The Millennium Watch Book - Tourbillons, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book - Tourbillons is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English.

 

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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.

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