The following article was produced in partnership with Bulgari.
Geneva is a city that’s no stranger to conventions, trade shows and fairs, but none are quite as interesting and unconventional as Geneva Watch Days. An independent, decentralized watch fair founded by some of the most innovative watchmakers in the world, it differs from most watch fairs by being open to the public – and while there’s plenty to discover at its central hub, the Rotonde du Mont-Blanc pavilion on Lake Geneva, there’s plenty of magic to be found throughout Geneva’s storied streets.
Case in point: if you were to stroll down the iconic Quai du Mont-Blanc and head into the grand Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, you’d find Bulgari – the famous Italian jeweller and watchmaker – and you’d discover the truly remarkable watches they’ve brought to the table for this edition of the fair.
But what if you’re not in Switzerland? No worries. We’ve got the scoop on the stupendous watches Bulgari has introduced for Geneva Watch Days, which are the perfect mix of high-tech Swiss fine watchmaking and time-honoured Roman design. Quite literally, in fact.
The Octo Finissimo Smoulders In Carbon
First up, we have the latest entries in the ever-exciting Octo Finissimo saga. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo has quickly cemented itself as one of modern watchmaking’s most important pieces: not only is the Octo Finissimo’s design itself a bold, handsome new take on the luxury sports watch, but the Octo Finissimo has been the basis for a number of world record-breaking watches – such as the world’s thinnest minute repeater, perpetual calendar and mechanical chronograph.
The Octo Finissimo has also been the focus of Bulgari’s experiments in different case materials: titanium, platinum, ceramic, tantalum, marble… Now, the Octo Finissimo finds itself expressed in carbon and gold, in what might be its most daring look yet.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic (ref. 103779) and the Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Perpetual Calendar (ref. 103778) feature cases, dials and bracelets made from forged carbon fibre. Not only is this material incredibly light and robust – perfect for a sporty luxury watch – it’s also incredibly cool to look at. The forging process, which leaves intriguing swirls and patterns throughout the carbon, means that every Octo Finissimo CarbonGold watch is unique.
This alluring, Vesuvian material is contrasted by the use of gold for the watches’ indices, hands and crowns. Of course, gold is a material Bulgari is intimately familiar with as one of the world’s leading jewellers. The bright rose gold contrasts perfectly with the dark black carbon of these watches, whilst also adding an unmistakable air of luxury.
Both the Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic and Perpetual Calendar also feature movements embellished with Côte de Genève-decorated rose gold bridges and oscillating weights forged from rose gold-plated platinum, which are proudly on display through sapphire crystal casebacks.
The World’s Smallest Mechanical Watch Movement
2023 also sees Bulgari bring back mechanical movements to their High Jewellery pieces, with the two signature proficiencies of the Maison – stunning jewellery and ultra-thin watches – married together once again thanks to the engineering prowess of the Calibre BVL 100. Aptly named Piccolissimo, meaning ‘very, very small’ in Italian, it is the smallest mechanical watch movement on the market, designed and manufactured by Bulgari in Switzerland.
The Piccolissimo powers two stunning new pieces, the Serpenti Misteriosi in white gold (ref. 103795) and the Serpenti Misteriosi in rose gold (ref. 103884). The Serpenti (snake) is one of Bulgari’s signature designs, with their Serpenti watches coiling around the wrist like an elegant yet deadly viper.
The former’s snake-like form is set with 32.91 carats of round brilliant-cut diamonds, with a further 0.28ct of pavé-set diamonds adorning its dial and two pear-shaped emerald eyes, each weighing in at 0.21ct, providing a pop of colour. The latter, crafted from rose gold, alternates black lacquer ‘scales’ with others set by navette-cut diamonds (11.9ct in total).
The extraordinary Piccolissimo movement is wound by a crown located under the serpent’s head, while a flick of its tongue reveals their diamond-paved dials. Additionally, the watch head itself can be unclipped at will, so that the Serpenti Misteriosi can be worn on either arm, and the dial adjusted accordingly. The movement is interchangeable, so you can swap in a quartz one if you wish – but we reckon part of these Serpenti’s charm is their mechanical movements.
A Blast From The Past
Lastly, Bulgari pays homage to their Roman identity and the history of the Roman Empire – one of the greatest and most influential civilisations in the world – with two new Monete Catene secret watches, which are crafted from precious antique Roman coins.
Bulgari actually pioneered the use of ancient coins in jewellery with the ‘Gemme Nummarie’ concept introduced by Nicola Bulgari in the 1960s. 2023 sees a revival of this clever technique, now merged with watchmaking. We can’t think of a better way to symbolise and pay homage to the passing of time – as well as reflect Bulgari’s indomitable Roman character – than incorporating ancient Roman relics into one’s watch.
The Monete Catene High Jewellery Secret Watch (ref. 103870), which is crafted from rose gold set with diamonds (~4.10 cts), features a case cover set with a silver denarius coin featuring Emperor Caracalla, who reigned from 198-217 AD. Flip back the diamond-framed ancient coin and you’ll find a tiny watch face powered by a Piccolissimo movement. A curb-chained bracelet adds to its luxurious appeal.
The Monete Catene Dual Time High Jewellery Secret Watch (ref. 103871) takes this concept even further by putting two Piccolissimo-powered watches side by side in the same piece, with a case cover featuring coins depicting the emperor Septimius Severus (193-211 AD) and his spouse Julia Domna (193-217 AD). Two emerald cabochons (~0.12 ct) serve as pushers to open the case and display the dial, while the watch’s case is crafted from white and yellow gold and studded with baguette-cut diamonds (~21.76 cts) and brilliant-cut diamonds (~20.80 cts).
Geneva Watch Days 2023 runs from August 29th to September 3rd in Geneva, Switzerland. Discover more about Bulgari’s iconic watch collections here.