In a Zoom call from Rome, the Bulgari managing director talks about the brand’s newest high-end collections, the value behind each piece, and how they are merging digital and personal client relations.
Handwritten letters, one-on-one video calls, and an optimized digital presence are some of the ways Bulgari maintains its personal approach to cultivating client relationships. However, while many brands see digital as more cost-efficient and less-demanding way of trading, the 137-year-old jeweler values traditional methods.
“Organizing one-on-one communication with clients behind screens has been more time-consuming. So we’ve always questioned if the brand can go completely digital, but we realize that nothing can replace human connection,” explains Bulgari’s managing director Antoine Pin.
He adds that touching, seeing, feeling, and hearing fine jewelry pieces in person beats observing the ornaments through a screen or image every time. Consequently, Pin talks us through Bulgari’s Magnifica and Octo Roma Naturalia collections, how the jeweler maintains social responsibility in its material sourcing, and why its most expensive timepiece is worth its value.
Bulgari’s most precious piece
The Italian label is choosing to launch their most valuable and intricate timepiece to date while we are still dealing with the pandemic.
“It may be a wonder that while other brands are maybe cutting costs, we are going the opposite route and offering our most expensive piece,” says Sze Lin Teo, Bulgari’s marketing and communications director for South APAC.
The Ruby Metamorphosis is crafted from platinum, cushion-cut 6.3 carats Mozambique ruby and diamonds, conveying ultimate suppleness.
Despite the ruby and diamond embellished timepiece being Bulgari’s most expensive product offering (its price is still undisclosed), Pin says he doesn’t consider the piece expensive per se because it encapsulates its value.
It takes 1,650 hours of craftsmanship, precise construction and technique, and fair pay for everyone involved in the Ruby Metamorphosis creation and distribution. But, most importantly, they have seen a definite demand for such “sublime” pieces from the market.
The timepiece is part of Bulgari’s Magnifica collection; the new upscale assembly guides product creation executive director Fabrizio Buonamassa. Magnifica explores innovative solutions into exciting ideas through watches and jewelry.
The collection includes Celestial Sky, a watch designed with a matching necklace. It features an oval-shaped six-carat Sri-Lanka sapphire and round-shaped diamonds. Similar to much of Bulgari’s designs, its inspiration stems from its native Rome. The blue of the sapphire mirrors the hues of the Roman sky while its curved lines and bold volumes invoke Baroque motifs.
In a separate bespoke watch collection called Octo Roma Naturalia, Bulgari bridges future and tradition in a line crafted with rich natural stones. The watch line debuts three models in its launch: Black Onyx, Lapis Lazuli, and Malachite. Intriguingly, each of the pieces gains inspiration from the legendary properties of natural forces.
For instance, mythical black onyx symbolizes inner strength, lapis lazuli equates to honor and possibility, and green malachite is a stone known for transformation.
In regards to how these rare gems are sustainably drawn, Pin shares that being fair to the environment and workers have become second nature to the brand’s manufacturing practices. “It’s becoming easy to source materials because of our globally aligned community.
“We follow RPC (Rules of Professional Conduct) guidelines and prioritize social welfare,” Pin shares. “it’s not necessarily easy, but we have become streamlined.”
From start to finish, expert watchmakers assemble each piece by hand— a process that takes two months to complete for a single timepiece. Then, a thin slice of stone is inserted into the watch’s skeletonized components, which results in its tourbillon movement, which captures Bulgari’s intricate watchmaking DNA.
In line with their aim to build a bridge between history and the future, Bulgari introduces a “state-of-the-art” approach to customizing timepieces. The development of Maestria, an online application, allows customers to personalize their Octo Roma Naturalia watches. Maestria launched last April and is only available for tablet devices in Bulgari stores and Haute Horlogerie events.
Bulgari client advisors will log in the software for the customer, and the representatives will guide them through the steps needed to tailor-design their piece. The personalization options include your choice of stones, case material, case setting, and any engraving for the back of the watch.
Finally, once the client is finished customizing their Octo Roma Naturalia piece, it is sent to the design and production departments for the watch to begin its construction. Bulgari aims to disrupt the watch market with such innovations and personal relationships with their clients.
When asked how the brand sees itself following the pandemic, Pin shares that they are “not yet finished” with all the other ways they plan to direct the future of the watch industry.
All images are courtesy of Bulgari