It might seem obvious for a jeweller-watchmaker, but everything Bulgari touches turns to gold. Or so it would seem from the 10% rise in revenue to €3.8 billion registered by LVMH’s Watches & Jewelry business in 2017 (profit from recurring operations reached €512 million, up 12%). The Italian firm is the lynchpin of the division and, as its Chief Executive Jean-Christophe Babin confirms, its results for 2017 “were the best ever in the history of Bulgari, with all our divisions posting excellent performance.” Knowing that 2017 was something of a rocky ride, and that during those twelve months Bulgari created 1,500 jobs, it’s clear the brand is firing on all engines.
"A brand that appeals to the emotions"
The high jewellery workshops in Valenza have been fully refurbished and enlarged, expanding from 380 staff to 600, with a further increase to 800 expected by the end of this year. The newly-created Bulgari Academy is equipped to train between 40 and 60 apprentices at any one time in fine jewellery techniques. Two new Bulgari hotels have also opened, alongside seven centres spread worldwide to manage the brand’s e-commerce operations. Bulgari has continued to vertically integrate its leather business, and now has its own leather-cutting facility. It has even opened a state-of-the-art production workshop for perfumes.
Watches are high on the agenda too, starting with the presentation earlier this year of the Diva Finissima Minute Repeater – the slimmest ladies’ minute repeater on the market thanks to the in-house manual-wind BVL 362 Finissimo calibre, a record-setting 1.95 mm high and with 52 hours of power reserve. These exploits haven’t gone unnoticed: Bulgari took home two awards at the last Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève when the Octo Finissimo Automatic won Men’s Watch and the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton won the Tourbillon and Escapement prize. Both hold records for thinness. After the Octo range and last year’s more rounded alter ego, the Roma, and following on from the Serpenti – customisable thanks to an online configurator -, the star of the show this year is the Lucea. As Jean-Christophe Babin recently remarked, “one of the reasons we’re riding a wave right now is that the products we’ve presented in the past years have a strong identity. The Lucea is one. It conveys the image of a dynamic brand. One that appeals to the emotions.”
Everything about the Lucea says Bulgari, so much so that it could even go without the logo.
Sundials and serpents
Throughout the 2010s, Bulgari has shown its creativity with several new and highly praised watch lines, completely refreshing its offering in the process. The 110 facets that distinguish the Octo came first, in 2012, followed two years later by the Lucea then, in 2015, Diva’s Dream. Described by the brand as a tribute to the sundial that merges history and the present, function and design, the Lucea is intended to become the watch for every occasion, alongside the more idiosyncratic Serpenti and the gem-set or complication Diva’s Dream. “The Lucea was designed as a round, two-tone, iconic watch,” says Guido Terreni who is managing director of Bulgari Watches. “Everything about it says Bulgari, so much so that it could even go without the logo. It’s a jewel of a watch with a strong identity, for every day.”
After last year’s Moon Phase and Tourbillon versions, Bulgari’s teams have imagined new iterations of the Lucea that are mechanically more subdued, emphasising design features instead. The Lucea Tubogas is a prime example; the artisanal bracelet has been a signature of Bulgari since the 1940s. The Skeleton reveals its mechanism beneath a tumble of letters spelling the Bulgari name. Completing the line-up is the Lucea Original, a reminder of this watch’s irresistible and enduring charm. And who could fail to miss the diamonds on the dial, bezel and lugs of certain models – a reminder that even for everyday wear, Bulgari will always sparkle.