In June, Bulgari presented its vision of the Yard of Eden, termed Giardino Dell’Eden Piccolissimo. It was an extravagant jewelry watch lined in diamonds, rubies, pink tourmalines, mandarin garnet, pink and yellow sapphires and rock crystal, all set about the dial on the wings of a butterfly, the scales of a slithering snake and in the course of a mattress of bouquets in bloom.
The opulent piece hid a person extraordinary element: At its heart was the caliber BVl100, also identified as the Piccolissimo (“very small” in Italian), a mechanical micromovement built in-house by Bulgari to electricity its large-conclude jewellery watches.
“This is the merchandise of our miniaturization know-how from Switzerland and our art of jewellery creating from Italy,” Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, creative director of Bulgari Watches, stated in an interview in Paris in June.
Through most of the 20th century, Bulgari applied compact mechanical movements in its jewelry watches, but the Roman jeweler switched to quartz- or battery-driven actions in the late 1970s when the acceptance of Japanese-built quartz watches put a lot of Swiss mechanical motion makers out of organization.
The Piccolissimo, which debuted in January in four Serpenti “secret watches” (timepieces disguised as bracelets), is a return to that early exercise — but with a difference. The caliber has 102 factors that weigh a whole of 1.3 grams (.045 ounces), it is 12.3 millimeters in diameter and 2.5 millimeters thick, and, the model stated, it will hold a enjoy ticking for 30 hours.
“We put in a whole lot of exertion to assure its reliability,” Mr. Buonamassa Stigliani reported. “If you really do not master miniaturization, you can conclusion up with a extremely smaller electricity reserve.”
Precision and reliability in ultrathin watches have been the executive’s daily target considering the fact that 2001, when he joined Bulgari (with the exception of a two-year absence when he labored somewhere else as a specialist). An industrial designer who arrived to watches following working in the automotive sector, he has been what the brand’s chief government, Jean-Christophe Babin, termed at the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève awards “Bulgari’s individual Leonardo da Vinci, both an artist and an engineer.” (Mr. Babin was accepting the Aiguille d’Or, the prime prize at the Grand Prix, for the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar with a retrograde day screen, which featured a electricity reserve of 60 several hours.)
In the final 10 years, Mr. Buonamassa Stigliani has been the pressure at the rear of Bulgari’s transformation from a jewelry model into a highly regarded participant in the men’s luxury sport-check out class.
And given that 2014, his style staff has accomplished eight environment data for ultraslim movements, together with the world’s thinnest look at, the 1.8 millimeter Octo Finissimo Extremely — that is right until July 6, when Richard Mille introduced the 1.75-millimeter RM UP-01 Ferrari.
“In the past 12 yrs, we have been centered on the Finissimo collection,” Mr. Buonamassa Stigliani said. “This change to the ladies’ aspect is portion of the identical ‘ultraslim’ discussion. Without Finissimo, we couldn’t have imagined the Piccolissimo.”
The Piccolissimo, compact as it is, must be wound by hand in a area-saving shift, the crown has been set on the caseback. The stem can be turned equally clockwise, for timesetting, and counterclockwise, for winding.
Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, a retired watchmaker and founder of the motion maker Agenhor, wrote in an email: “The 30-hour ability reserve with a 2.5-millimeter thinness, regardless of the limited over-all quantity of the caliber, moreover the crown on the situation back again which itself is a sophisticated obstacle, are great achievements that clearly show how well Bulgari has mastered this miniaturization.”
The Piccolissimo has its own container, individual from the bracelet’s structure. “This indicates you can flip the motion and browse the time the right way no matter if you use the look at on the still left or appropriate wrist,” Mr. Buonamassa Stigliani explained. “It also implies the motion can be serviced with no having to touch its jewelry bracelet.”
In the Earlier
Bulgari is not the only luxurious brand name to do the job with miniature view movements. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101, released in 1929, remains a standard between tiny movements destined for jewelry watches at a lot less than 1 gram in excess weight and measuring 14 millimeters very long, 4.8 millimeters broad and 3.4 millimeters thick.
“Jewelry was likely via a renaissance then,” Lionel Favre, product structure director for Jaeger-LeCoultre, claimed in a video clip interview from the brand’s manufacturing unit in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux. “And Jaeger had the precise know-how with unique métiers vertically built-in in its manufacture.”
Mr. Wiederrecht wrote: “Mini calibers were common until eventually the arrival of quartz movements in the 1970s,” and he noted, “Jaeger’s Calibre 101 holds the file for slimness between baguette-formed calibers.”
Though the popularity of reasonably priced watches with Japanese-built quartz technological innovation ate away at Swiss check out revenue — and dampened brands’ desire in investing in micromechanical movements for the much less rewarding women’s marketplace — Jaeger-LeCoultre continued to tweak its caliber.
“The Calibre 101 is now in its fifth technology,” Mr. Favre stated. “It has long gone from 78 to 98 elements as we have re-evaluated it for precision and trustworthiness.”
In the past, Jaeger sold the Calibre 101 to houses these as Cartier or Van Cleef & Arpels for their luxury watches, but minimal output has finished the apply. “We only make 10 to 20 units per year, for the reason that each and every motion is altered by hand,” Mr. Favre mentioned. “The approach is solely artisanal, thus expensive.”
A Relatives Heirloom
Until the mid-1970s, Bulgari’s Tubogas watches were being run by small mechanical movements purchased from suppliers, together with Vacheron Constantin. But shopper desire, at the very least in part, persuaded Bulgari to make investments in engineering its possess microcaliber.
“We experienced requests from Asian clientele who like our jewellery watches but choose to have a quality mechanical movement,” Mr. Buonamassa Stigliani said. “Also, if we are talking sustainability, a mechanical jewelry look at lasts eternally and is extra eco-helpful. You can go it on, it results in being a relatives heirloom.”
For both equally Bulgari and Jaeger-LeCoultre, the problem has been good quality. “Utility can constantly be questioned, but we intention to create an remarkable object to the highest high quality criteria,” Mr. Favre explained. “It is like obtaining a jacket with a silk lining versus a cotton lining. Some people may well not be delicate to the big difference, but at higher rate levels, some want the far better excellent.”
Bulgari has explained it intends to use the Piccolissimo to create a array of completely mechanical women’s designs. When each and every piece has to be assembled by hand, Mr. Buonamassa Stigliani mentioned, “we will enhance our in-house manufacturing potential and will aim for 40 Piccolissimo movements this 12 months.”
The one-of-a-variety Giardino Dell’Eden view, he noted, was offered the first working day it was proven to customers.
But, he claimed, “we will make many others, with distinct flowers, and this product will provide as a system. The enhancement of this microcaliber has opened a new chapter.”