Watches: Bvlgari Ammiraglio del Tempo (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on June 9, 2014

In addition to being one of the world’s leading High Jewellery houses, Bvlgari is a watch Manufacture to be reckoned with. And if anyone was not convinced of this brand’s legitimacy in the high-end watch segment, this year’s Baselworld introductions represent the perfect demonstration of their tremendous horological expertise.

On Watch Agora, I have already presented the new Octo Finissimo collectionWatches: Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Collection (+live pics) showcasing Bvlgari’s ability to create ultra-thin movements. Crafted in platinum, the refined Octo Finissimo Tourbillon houses nothing else than the thinnest tourbillon movement on the market. Everyone knows that extreme thinness is a complication of its own and a calibre with a tourbillon escapement boasting a thickness of only 1.95 mm is a true watchmaking achievement.

This exceptional model, however, was not the only masterpiece unveiled by the brand during the fair. They had another surprise in the Daniel Roth line: the “Ammiraglio del Tempo”. This tribute to the era of legendary sailboats and maritime conquests is remarkable in many respects. It features a minute repeater with an innovative activation system, a Westminster chime, a detent escapement and a constant force device!

Minute repeaters are known to be the most complex type of movements and the Westminster are the most famous chimes. In Bvlgari’s new Grande Complication piece, four hammers and gongs, visible from the open art of the dial, deliver the melodious notes. In order not to spoil the beauty of the 50.00 x 45.75 double-ellipse case with the usual sideways protruding repeater slide, the brand’s watchmakers developed and ingenious system: one of the lugs is mobile and serves as a repeater slide. It glides from 7 to 8 o’clock to trigger the minute repeater. Needless to say, this represents a first in watchmaking.

A view of the innovative repeater slide

With these technical features, the hand-wound manufacture movement would have already been quite impressive. However, in tribute to marine chronometers the brand included a detent escapement for high accuracy. Invented in the 18th century, this device enhanced the accuracy and reliability of the timekeeping instruments used by sailors. Difficult to miniaturise, this single impulse escapement is rarely found in wristwatches.

Lastly, it is known that when the mainspring nears the end of its power reserve, most movements experience a loss of torque. In order for the power that runs and regulates this timepiece not to be affected by the state of winding of the mainspring, Bvlgari’s team also equipped the watch with a constant-force device. A permanently wound intermediate spring connects the mainspring to the escapement and transmits regular torque to the escapement with minimal loss of energy.

Bvlgari unveiled two versions of this extraordinary model: one in pink gold limited to 20 pieces and another in white gold produced in a limited run of 10. The former is mounted on a black alligator strap while the latter features a splendid blue alligator strap. They are both secured by a triple folding buckle in the same material as the case.

The dial of both versions is partially open to reveal the detent escapement and the striking hammers and gongs. The “solid” part of the dial is made from a plate of black or blue gold depending on the model and showcases oversized Roman numerals. The sapphire case back reveals the complexity of the 516-part movement as well as the impeccable Haute Horology finishing with Côtes de Genève decorations, perfectly bevelled edges, mirror-polished surfaces and circular-grained baseplate.

Without doubt, these two timepieces house some of the most refined horological complications, but above all they are extremely beautiful. They reveal enough of their technical components for us to grasp the amazing complexity of this movement’s construction, but thanks to Bvlgari’s incredible aesthetic sense, these technical elements do not ruin the refinement and elegance of the watch. The white gold version is my absolute favourite and I am glad this was the model available during Baselworld for the photo shoot.

For a technical description of the timepieces and additional pictures:

Additional timepiece mentioned in this article: