There are artists, archistars and fashion designers, all individuals who are accustomed to being in the limelight. The watch industry is traditionally different in that most brands don’t highlight a head designer. All the attention is on the brand. Exceptions include Christian Knoop at IWC, Sara Sandmeier at Baume & Mercier, and Carole Forestier-Kasapi, director of movement development at Cartier. At Bulgari, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, senior director of Bulgari’s watch design centre, has the same sort of “horostar” visibility, underlined by the design sketches that accompany the press material illustrating the new 2016 watches.
The Serpenti Incantati Skeleton Tourbillon Lumière is an attractive piece. It is something of a departure in that it is the first time that Bulgari have created a complication watch for women, with the new case concept in which Bulgari’s classic snake motif is wrapped around the dial, instead of around the wrist. The more I look at this watch, the more I like it. The open-worked dial is beautifully asymmetric, and Fabrizio’s design seems to stem from the engineering limitations, namely the need for a tourbillon bridge at the bottom side of the dial. His solution is hallmarked by a narrow PVD-treated ring (red or blue, according to the version) screwed to the bridge and providing the scale for the time indications. Finish is superb, and the skeletonized movement looks quite “masculine” from the front, with the ribbing on the gold bridges creating a sinuous pattern. This technical look creates a pleasant contrast with the serpent bezel. The mainspring can be seen from the front, at top right, and so the wearer has an indication of the degree of winding even without taking the watch off and looking at the power reserve indicator.
The movement can also be viewed through the sapphire caseback. From this side it looks even more masculine and tech-y, with most of the power train fully visible, along with the curving skeletonized bridges that look like tough, sturdy girders. There is an indicator showing the 64-hour power reserve, with a hand of the same design as the hour and minute hands. The hand-wound BVL Calibre 208 movement is designed and built in-house, with a balance running at 21,600 vibrations per hour (3 Hertz). It looks to be a movement of great spatial economy, with just 22 jewels, and most of the components grouped together in the top right half of the watch (seen from the front).
Case and gem-setting
The case is 41 mm in diameter, very slim at 8.9 mm thickness, water resistance 30 metres. The pink gold version is set with 209 brilliant-cut diamonds (about 2.15 carats) and 2 rubellites (about 1.9 carats), and it has a leather strap with a pink gold clasp set with 28 diamonds (about 0.28 carats). The white gold version is set with 228 brilliant-cut diamonds (about 2.15 carats) and 1 sapphire (about 0.15 ct), and the white gold bracelet is set with 28 diamonds (about 0.28 carats).
Price and editions
The Serpenti Incantati Skeleton Tourbillon Lumière is available in two versions, both limited editions. The white gold version (reference 102541) is a limited edition of 30 pieces, price approximately €210,000. The pink gold version (reference 102540) is a limited edition of 50 pieces, price €190,000 (180,000 Swiss francs).
The watch has been entered for the Ladies High-Mech section of the GPHG compettion.