Under the theme “Time is a Jewel” Bulgari’s novelties showcase the jeweller’s exceptional jewellery-making skills, combined with the finest in craftsmanship and watchmaking.
As a hugely successful and established jeweller, Bulgari is not lacking in history and depth, but over the last few years, the brand has been working hard to define its place in the watchmaking industry and to stand with the big players. Its difference, of course, is its jewellery heritage, but under the leadership of Antoine Pin, Managing Director of the Bulgari Watch Division and Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bulgari Watches Designer, the Maison is using this to its advantage, to set itself apart from others and to lead by example. After yet another record-breaking year in 2022, this year Bulgari is back with some exciting launches in ladies’ jewellery watches. Here we see more of the latest novelties and find out where the Bulgari Watch Division is at today.
Where does the Bulgari Watch Division stand today within the watchmaking industry?
Antoine: It’s interesting to understand where we stand and the challenges ahead of us. I believe that what we’ve managed to do over the past years is define our playing field and identify who we are and what our contribution to the watchmaking industry is as a brand that has different origins and therefore a different perspective. It’s an ongoing process and there is clearly a different source of inspiration for us. Sometimes people want to know where we stand as a watchmaker and because there is such diversity within us, it is quite difficult to answer this question. But if you ask a Swiss watch brand the same question, they need to talk beyond just their products. We on the other side are selling values and a philosophy and that is common throughout all our products for men and women.
Fabrizio, let’s look at the Divas’ Dream watch, this watch can span generations, to what do you attribute this strength and what is on your mind when you are thinking of designing something that will be relevant to many people today?
Fabrizio: In my mind there is a simple objective: easy to wear, with a huge jewellery aspect. That’s why it was a round-shaped watch, with all this beauty and savoir-faire around it. We are always in this in-between area, as we are so creative but there are many things we want to say and do, and sometimes it’s hard to say less! Even with the new Serpenti, we had completely redesigned the bracelet and the case. But we are always challenging ourselves to push the boundaries of our aesthetic codes to a different level. And this has totally changed since I joined the company because it used to be that we had to demonstrate something, we didn’t change the aesthetics, so it was just an aesthetic approach. Today we are more self-confident, there is a lot more experimentation around our savoir-faire, and we see things in a totally different way.
Antoine: If we are good at explaining our vision and our intention, we know where we are going. The challenge for Fabrizio is to keep ensuring that when our customers see the product, they see something they weren’t expecting, but it is still Bulgari. The moment they say this, we are successful!
Fabrizio: Exactly. There needs to be familiarization…
Antoine: We have had failures and we have made mistakes in the past and we will continue to do that, because every time you try to play with dimensions, you have to think outside the box, and when you play outside the box, the reality is sometimes you get it wrong. We must remain in the space that we are defining, but experiment within that, not forgetting where we are coming from.
But you have solid pillars around you at Bulgari…
Antoine: Yes we do, and that does make us comfortable but it’s about not being mistaken in the dimensions we are using to be creative again. The great thing about Fabrizio is that his team totally understand his approach.
What are the challenges you face as a brand in the watches segment today?
Antoine: I’m very confident about where we are heading because I know what we are working on, we have a shared vision, and there are lots of things that we need to be strong on, but my impression of us in the field, is that we are highly confident. The challenge is the market itself, is developing at a very high level, and the fact that I can see that everyone is jumping into this field but there’s not enough space for everyone. Everyone feels like this space is booming, which is fine, but you still need some sense of legitimacy and creativity. But again, everyone is always following the trends. The independent brands have been very successful, and they’ve shown that there is an appetite for creativity, but when everyone is starting to be creative, it leads to many products and sometimes a strange positioning. Brands shouldn’t always try to address all the markets, I think as Fabrizio says, we have become more self-confident in the sense that we know that we’re not going to please everyone, we are actually pleasing a minority of people, but that’s fine. And then we will grow because of our success. Now, that is good, but the point is that there is a kind of movement where everyone is going in the same direction, but that’s always been the case. We have had great conditions, how long they are going to last and who is going to take advantage, and who can last the distance, that is the question. But this is something normal that has happened before and will continue to happen.
What’s the story behind the small watch dial sizes we are seeing now?
Fabrizio: There is a big trend around the world about small watches. We don’t want to follow the trends, but we will see what happens. Sometimes the marketing team will come to me to highlight a certain trend but that’s not what we do, we don’t follow. We try to do the things that we love to do.
Antoine: Don’t get us wrong there are some watchmaking elements and standards that we respect, but even when sometimes we consciously say we are going to follow the standards of the market, it doesn’t always work as well as the rest.
Antonie, how do you balance between Fabrizio’s creative perspective and the outputs expected from a business perspective of a product launch?
Antoine: Sometimes you have to say no, otherwise we will never launch the product! I am always looking from a business perspective, and I very rarely intervene on the design side, that is Fabrizio’s area of expertise. I respect that and when there is a moment where there needs to be a decision, and unfortunately from a quality perspective, there is a limit, the beauty is that Fabrizio understands and supports it. That clearly is the reason why he is getting maximum credit because we know that his perfectionism is driving us in the right direction.
Fabrizio: I have to say that in the past there was a different mindset. Today, thanks to the Octo Finissimo, and many other things, we have discussions among ourselves, and we are looking at how things will work in the next five years, even if we can’t find a solution now there is a process to work on things to improve on what we can do now. We are making progress and today it’s more than it was in the past because our way of working is totally different. We work more closely with the product development team and the facilities, and it has to be a team effort.