Bulgari kicked off the summer with an array of elaborate high-end watches capitalizing on its mastery of métiers d’art—specifically lapidary work and gem setting.
The new Octa Roma Naturalia collection, infused with natural hardstones, not only puts a colorful twist on the tourbillon’s architectural framework, it allows clients to put their own personalized touches on the designs using the new Maestria tablet application. In addition, the brand puts high-jewelry watchmaking into overdrive with a quartet of Magnifica confections.
Naturalia made its debut with a trio of skeletonized Octa Roma tourbillons available in three hardstone versions: black onyx (US$89,000), a mineral said to be imbued with protective powers promoting a sense of inner strength; lapis lazuli (US$243,000), symbolizing honor and potential; and green malachite (US$129,000), a stone representing transformation.
For decades, Bulgari has mixed and matched opaque hardstones with sparkling, colored gemstones in its bold jewelry oeuvre, but the lapidary expertise demanded by the Octa Roma Naturalia is on a different level. The two-month-long process involves selecting the ideal rock with consistent coloration and variations, then cutting it into tiny pieces and polishing them by hand. Watchmakers then painstakingly insert the thin slices of stone into the watch’s skeletonized framework and the components of the flying tourbillon caliber BVL206. Stone is inlaid onto the bridges, plates, and indexes, as well as on the sides of the middle case.
The old-world watchmaking crafts are paired with 21st-century tech in the new Maestriatablet app that launched in April. Currently, the customization option is exclusively available for the Octo Roma Naturaliain Bulgari boutiques and at high-jewelry/high-horology special events, but the concept will be rolled out to more collections in the future. Since each piece is made to order, there are no physical watches to view in the boutiques, but prototypes will be displayed at events.
With the unveiling of its customizable Naturalias, Bulgari also released four Magnifica one-of-a-kind high-jewelry watches laden with diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies (all prices upon request).
Rather than present a finished watch, the salesperson uses the boutique’s tablet to show the client a range of options—including the choice of stone, case material, case setting, and personalized engraving on the back. The 44mm cases are available in blackened titanium, sand-blasted rose gold, or satin-polished platinum. If rose gold or platinum are chosen, clients can add diamonds to the bezel or to the bezel and middle case. In all, 30 different combinations are possible, plus the engraved message, making each one a unique piece.
These extravagant designs, two of which masquerade as bracelets with their dials hidden beneath jeweled, hinged covers, were conceived in the house’s Roman high-jewelry studio under the auspices of Fabrizio Buonamassa, Bulgari’s executive director of product creation.
The Ruby Metamorphosis secret watch, with a stunning antique cushion-cut, 6.3-carat Mozambique ruby set into the cover hiding the dial, is reportedly the most expensive and precious timepiece ever produced by the house.
Designed to complement a high-jewelry necklace of the same name, the platinum watch was 1,650 hours in the making, given its lavish and intricate gem setting, including 48 baguette-cut rubies totaling more than 7 carats and 146 baguette-cut diamonds totaling nearly 20 carats, plus additional brilliant-cut and pavé-set diamonds.
The other three unique timepieces, all paired with matching necklaces, include Celestial Sky, highlighted with an oval-shaped, 6-carat vibrant blue Sri-Lanka sapphire on the dial cover amid curving Baroque motifs set with blue sapphires, tourmaline beads, and brilliant-cut diamonds; the Diamond Swan with its dial visible through a 7-carat faceted rock crystal cover amid a cascade of diamonds in a variety of cuts; and the Baroque Spiral, also with a transparent rock crystal dial cover, inspired by the sensuality of the Baroque movement with its spiral geometry accented with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires.
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