Watches: Bvlgari’s Pre-Basel Introductions

By Thierry Ané on January 16, 2015

We all know that the House of Bvlgari creates some of the most exquisite pieces of jewellery money can buy. With a flawless Italian sense of style, their designers rely on all sorts of premium-quality coloured stones to present bold and contemporary models that shake up the muted world of High Jewellery and bring young life into it.

If you are reading these lines, you are also aware that this renowned Maison is also a manufacture to be reckoned with in the Haute Horlogerie segment. They never fail to unveil stunning timepieces that combine the very best of traditional Fine Watchmaking with a unique aesthetic for seasoned watch enthusiasts that are not afraid to show the world their off-the-beaten-track tastes.

The Bulgari Bulgari Solotempo, here with a blue alligator strap

What you may not know, though, is that Bvlgari is also a great host and always organises some of the best “launch parties” to unveil their latest creations. Their “Italian Champagne Tea Parties”, like the one that took place yesterday evening are a great moment of conviviality and among the very few events I would not miss.

The fact that the venue is the Bvlgari Hotel London, one of my favourite hotels in the city, of course does not hurt! “Il Bar”, like the rest of the hotel, is a perfect example of accomplished interior design. With its beautiful mirror-polished black granite floor, ceiling of titanium and impressive central hammered metal bar, it combines modernity and refinement. The young and sophisticated atmosphere makes it the perfect place for a before- or an after-dinner drink.

Inspired by the vibrant food markets in Italy and Provence, “Rivea London”, the restaurant, also offers a convivial and relaxed setting to enjoy succulent small plates while delivering impeccable service. Living in London, I never had the opportunity to experience the rooms and suites but if they are close to what you get in other Bvlgari hotels, I know I would not be disappointed!

It is in the private salons of this elegant address on the edge of Hyde Park that we had the opportunity to discover Bvlgari’s pre-Basel watch releases while sipping a glass of champagne and enjoying a selection of the tastiest sweet and savoury canapés…

The Octo Solotempo, with the sunray finish giving this beautiful effect

Showcasing a magnificent sapphire blue hue, the new timepieces bring us back to the Mediterranean origins of the luxury brand. I don’t know about you, but I tend to consider blue as the most beautiful colour for a timepiece. It is less obvious than black while retaining enough classicism and timelessness to be suitable for a high-end model. Here, the dial is actually in sapphire and has received multiple layers of colour to achieve this intense blue as well as a sunray finish.

Unlike for black, though, selecting the perfect shade of blue is no easy task and some such models on the market are frustratingly disappointing: too pale or too dark, too bright or too deep,… The timepieces introduced yesterday, however, are faithful to the brand’s innate sense of style and expertise with the use of colours.

The brand chose two iconic models for this brand new dial: the Bvlgari Bvlgari and the Octo Solotempo. Both models come in stainless steel and are equipped with the automatic “Solotempo” movement developed in-house. It powers the time indication (with three central hands) and the date. In both cases, a see-through sapphire on the back of the case lets you admire the high-end finish of the calibre.

With a diameter of 41 mm, the “Bvlgari Bvlgari” is the larger of the two models and comes either on a dark blue alligator strap or a stainless steel bracelet. Although the “Octo Solotempo” line also includes a 41 mm model introduced in 2012 (41.5 mm to be accurate), it is in the newly presented 38 mm version that the brand decided to place this blue sapphire dial, again with a choice of dark blue alligator or stainless steel bracelet.

The Octo's characteristic very angular case makes it very modern, but it's a pleasure to wear on the wrist!

I have already discussed several members of this “Octo” family, the last one being the Octo Solotempo All BlacksWatches: Bvlgari Octo Solotempo All Blacks (+live pics). Every time I discover a new rendition, I remain extremely impressed by the complexity and beauty of the case. So far, the models were very conservative with the choice of colour, namely black or white, and the watch still had a powerful appeal due to its strong and unique design. With the addition of the blue dial, it becomes absolutely stunning. My only regret is that they have not also offered a Octo Solotempo 41 mm model in blue yet.

To be fully honest, I am less fond of the “Bvlgari Bvlgari” collection as I am of the “Octo” even though, in all fairness, I have to admit that the newest versions with a more discreet “Bvlgari Bvlgari” inscription on the bezel work much better than past models for me. Undoubtedly, the Bvlgari Bvlgari Automatic in black introduced last year is a fine looking watch. But to me, it is just that. With the addition of the blue sapphire dial, it becomes something else: a refined timepiece with a hint of non-conformism that I would be glad to wear.

Whichever model you prefer, I strongly suggest that you ask to see them both during your next visit to a Bvlgari boutique if only to experience how different the same type of dial can appear on these two watches. Even though the manufacturing process is identical, the differences in case shape and size, as well as the presence of a polished bezel on the Bvlgari Bvlgari as opposed to a brushed one on the Octo Solotempo, make the two dials reflect light differently.

I spent a lot of time yesterday evening looking at both watches and moving them slightly to see how the colour changes from royal blue to almost dark under the reflections of the sunray finish. It is truly fascinating and a guarantee for future owners to remain interested in their timepieces for a long time.

These first 2015 introductions truly make me look forward to discovering the rest of this year’s collection during Baselworld 2015. The Watch Agora team will be back with a full report on this great Manufacture with live pictures and videos. And, if everything goes according to plan we won’t have to wait until Basel to discuss Bvlgari again…

For more information please visit the Bvlgari web site.