Antoine Pin, Managing Director of the Bulgari Watch Division Discusses the Maison’s Latest Novelties

Lindsay Judge   |   08-09-2022

Earlier this year Bulgari Watches had a huge moment when it unveiled the Octo Finissimo Ultra; the World’s Thinnest Mechanical Watch. This was a game-changing launch for the Maison that saw it breaking new world records and tuning the heads of watchmaking experts as it reaffirmed the brand’s place as a watch manufacturer.


This was followed later in the year by some impressive high jewellery watch creations which were unveiled as part of the Eden, Garden of Wonders collection. But the Italian Maison hasn’t finished yet! This month the house is returning with a set of new launches in the watches sector which were revealed at the recent Geneva Watch Days showcase.


Under the theme “A Play on Contrasts” Bulgari introduced a series of watches for men and women that demonstrate the brand’s ability to offer a fascinating play on contrasts of colours, shapes, materials, finishes and expertise. With new iterations Octo Finissimo line, as well as additions to the iconic Serpenti collection and fresh designs in the Bulgari Bulgari offering there is plenty to discover. We find out more about these novelties with Antoine Pin, Managing Director of the Bulgari Watch Division.


Octo Finissimo Rose Gold


We see some beautiful new watches launching for Geneva Watch Days – let’s begin with Octo – tell us what you are launching.

This is a moment of gold for Octo Finissimo as we reveal our precious versions of the watch. We are going back to more classic materials in the form of rose gold and yellow gold. The men’s collection no longer had any gold models and we know a lot of customers are looking for gold watches, so we wanted to bring them back. This is a limited edition collection with a brown dial. Deciding on our dial colours with our design studio is always a very complex process as Fabrizio, Buonamassa Stigliani our Creative Director, hates to follow trends, and of course, what the marketing department does is tells us what the trends are! We love for Fabrizio to give his own perspective on things and offer his creative direction and that is how we came to have this brown tobacco colour.


We are in fact introducing a series of rose gold products: firstly the Chronograph and last but not least, our new Octo Finissimo Skeleton which has an eight-day power reserve. It features a new calibre and actually probably best highlights the direction in which we are working now at Bulgari Watches. It’s not about being thinner, it’s about proposing the best horological performance within the same volume. We are still respecting the 0.8mm thickness so we remain extremely slim which is important, but we are maximising the performance. That’s why we have this new calibre with eight days of power reserve, thanks to the improvements made on the skeleton calibre with a stronger, bigger barrel with a stronger spring, and also a change in the gear strain to optimise the power reserve. This particular structure is becoming a signature of our skeleton pieces. So that’s the big horological achievement of this season.


Octo Finissimo Kazuyo Sejima


The collaboration with Kazuyo Sejima is very interesting, why did you choose her as a partner and how did the process go?

Yes, we continue our journey with artists and this is a very special collection that we have developed with Japanese architect; Kazuyo Sejima. We like to work with architects because they understand the complexity of our 3D construction. This piece plays with the light and on closer inspection, you will see that there are mini dots actually carved into the glass. These dots offer a stunning play of light. It is a completely polished dial but the structure on the glass that we developed internally involves us printing onto the back of the glass to create this graphic impression. This is the first time we have done something like this and it was a very complex process. Sejima gave us a hard time because she had a very clear idea of what she wanted to do. Interestingly the people we choose to collaborate with always bring us an aesthetic challenge, but they understand the constraints related to the development of a watch. Sejima had this graphic idea about the dial and then based on this, Fabrizio came back and suggested we did something fully polished to create even more of a contrast. The result is very special. It is a limited edition of 360 pieces that will launch firstly in Japan and then around the rest of the world.


Tell us about your choice of partners for such collaborations and how the process works.

The dialogue between Fabrizio and the artists we choose to work with is very interesting. It is a highly collaborative process. Fabrizio will brief the artist on the collection and then he takes on board the perspective of the other creative person. It’s truly a collaboration in which each respects the other party. Obviously, this is not always easy. We are working on future steps with different artists and it is always extremely sensitive. What is most sensitive is the first contact, there has to be a fit. We have seen situations where we had no fit and it would not have worked out.


In terms of identifying people to work with on these kinds of projects, there is a screening of people that we believe can be interesting and it is a process that we are evolving. Progressively we are working with intermediaries who provide us with the names of people who could be interested in a collaboration. But then technically to work with somebody you need all agree. So we have plenty of no’s until we find the right person to continue on this journey with. It allows us to discover new ways to express ourselves and to discover the signature of every artist.


Bulgari Bulgari Black


Bulgari is constantly pushing the boundaries in innovation and technology – tell us about his process and how does the brand continuously develop its abilities?

Firstly, we need to identify our path and define our journey as a brand. This means looking at the market, but the brief is not solely about what the consumer wants. This comes into perspective as we launch a yellow gold version of Octo Finissimo because the market told us there was a need. But when it comes to the innovative aspect, we should not wait and expect customers to tell us what they would like. We would not be surprising them in that case. Defining the direction and who we are as a watchmaker or how we would be perceived by our customers is something very interesting for us.


So we have long discussions with Fabrizio but also with our development team and the marketing team about what’s next. For instance, one of the key questions we ask ourselves is how do we express the modernity that we find in Octo Finissimo in our jewellery watches? The expression of jewellery watches often remains very traditional, so we have to question how we bring this modernity that is a very strong signature in our more masculine watches, to our ladies watches. How we continue to push the boundaries on mechanical calibres for ladies is another question we ask ourselves. How do we turn mechanical movements into serious alternatives to the Quartz movement? There are many ongoing discussions that we are having internally around these subjects and I think we have to keep asking ourselves relevant questions in order to move forward.


Serpenti Spiga Black


Let’s talk about ladies watches – what are you launching at this moment in that category?

We are launching a series of black versions of the Serpenti Seduttori. On one hand, we have the Serpenti Spiga Ceramic which is a modern version of the jewellery presentation of the watch. And then, on the other hand, we continue to build on the history of the Serpenti Seduttori with a full black iteration. It comes in steel with a black DLC treatment paired with rose gold. So we continue to play between gold and precious materials but in a black version. We love this variation around the concept and we are not only presenting it with Serpenti but we are also introducing this on the BVLGARI BVLGARI (BB) watch line with a full black offering. With this, we are clearly meeting a demand for something that we didn’t have in the collection before.


And then we are launching another Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon in white gold which features our micro tourbillion – the smallest tourbillion for our ladies watches – on black spinel and diamonds as a high jewellery version of this piece. We love to be at this crossroads of high horology and high jewellery and so we continue the journey with this.


How would you assess the position of Bulgari watches in the industry today? 

It is interesting because Bulgari is seen as a newcomer in the watchmaking industry, but our first watch was made over 100 years ago, and we used to sell more watches than jewellery in the early 2000s. But the fact is in today’s world we appear to be quite young in the industry and this is probably related to the fact that we became a manufacturer only twenty years ago. So now we have this double face as a watchmaker – a long history and tradition of making watches that last for a long time, connections to the Swiss world – we purchased calibres from Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin in the sixties – so there is clearly an intertwined relationship, but still, this recent visibility in the market is related to the fact that with Octo Finissimo we managed to merge those two worlds: the modernity of the Manufacture, with our tradition of being a watchmaker. Things have changed over the last years because we have come to a certain level of maturity.


So where does it take us? That is the big question! I would say the sky is the limit. We have the capacity like other jewellers to propose watches for both men and women, products at a reasonable price point and also products at an extremely high price point. I look at what other brands are doing and we may be small in comparison, but they show how big we could be if we continue on our own journey. We need to be patient, and creative, push ourselves and push the boundaries, but we must be true to our roots as an Italian jeweller and true to our brand DNA but continue to surprise our customers and ourselves. Of course, there is always the temptation to do something completely different from where we are, but I think our job together with Fabrizio is to be very rigorous on one side, but also to avoid setting ourselves the wrong constraints. You must have a discerning discipline to find what are the good constraints and the bad constraints.


Serpenti Seduttori Black


What is a message you would send to your fans and friends in the Middle East around these watches?

Rush to the stores! They are really beautiful watches with great stories to tell and we are very happy with them.


What else is in the pipeline for Bulgari watches this year? 

We are now preparing for next year when there will be some exciting launches happening, so watch this space.