Before we look at the novelties from Bulgari, we cannot escape the backchat about the Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta lines within the Bulgari brand. On 15th January 2010, Mr. Francesco Trapani, CEO of the Bulgari Group, announced that the Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth collections will be part of the watch assortment under the Bulgari brand starting from September 2010.
Trapani said: "Now it is time for a further step: to complement Bulgari watchmaking with a strong presence in the high-end and grandes complications watch creations. While preserving their technical and aesthetic qualities, the Daniel Roth and the Gérald Genta timepieces will from now be fully integrated into the collection of the Bulgari Brand. This alliance is sealed on the new watch creations, where the Bulgari Brand is featured along with the Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth logos."
The fevered discourses amongst the watch collector and connoisseur community raised a notch or two, after confirmation of the rumours that had been swirling in the undercurrents of chatter on French websites. Much emotional currency was expended in tirade and bluster for and against this ‘merger’. Most of the rants were in opposition and directed at the perceived loss of some sort of value as Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth products.
Others worried about the ability of Bulgari sales teams to sell a technical product rather than rely on the cachet of the Bulgari name. The most vehement criticism was directed against perceived bad treatment and termination of the Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth corporate and boutique personnel. Counter-arguments opined that regular customers would not care about the Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth names on the dial nor the movements, as long as they like the designs. Thus, there was much anticipation by the journalists and attendees before the presentation of the 2010 novelties; what would Bulgari Group produce?
Interview with Mr Francesco Trapani (FT), CEO Bulgari Group
PPro: Did you always plan to incorporate Gérald Genta (GG) and Daniel Roth DR) into Bulgari brand instead of remaining group members?
FT: When we purchased both companies in 2000, we had in mind to purchase two things. We wanted the brand names but more than that, the technical expertise in high-end watchmaking. We wanted to upgrade all our abilities. We then acquired the dial maker, the case constructor and the base manufacture, in order to integrate all this know-how. The objective was to have a fully integrated Manufacture to give us the ability to be successful in the market.
To be honest with you, the idea was NOT to do what we announced a few months ago. This idea came about because of the global economic crisis. We thought the market would have been difficult, especially for the small brands. We decided to try to leverage the strength of Bulgari on one side with the Manufactures on the other. Bulgari is a big brand, very appreciated and prestigious on a global basis while the smaller brands have fantastic products, really high quality and watch expertise. We tried to match the two things to have something stronger; to make 1+1=3.
PPro: How will the design cultures of the previous brands maintain their identities in Bulgari?
FT: As a Bulgari-Brand man and not as Bulgari-Group man, I was in love with some of the products from GG and DR that I thought were very ‘Bulgari’ in their DNA because their shapes were strong and daring. We decided to redesign the dials that in our opinion were not Bulgari enough. In the case of GG, they were a bit too extravagant and not long-lasting. In the case of DR, maybe a bit too classy and ‘dusty’. From Bulgari side, we have added some longer-lasting elements, very refined….very Italian. We are offering to the final client a much stronger product portfolio with three collections – Bulgari, Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth – within the Bulgari brand and marketing organisation. We keep the technical competence of the GG/DR lines but expose the products to a wider audience.
PPro: Do you think that the GG/DR clients to date have been too ‘geeky’ or interested in the technical aspects of the movements; too specialised? Do you think the design modifications will attract a wider customer base?
FT: I think so. There will be some – the ‘extremers’ – who may miss the old style, but the number of people who are interested in the new proposals will be high enough. We have something that should increase the business not just because of the bigger resources of the Bulgari organisation and boutiques, but also because the intrinsic quality and aesthetics of the products are more appealing.
PPro: Although people understand the benefits of the Bulgari brand and organisation, some have commented that you may be losing some ‘love’ and passion from the GG/DR fans in losing the stand-alone brands; how do you respond?
FT: I would like to say two things. First, GG/DR will remain as the ‘centre of excellence’ in Le Sentier; involved in the development of new movements for the two collections and in fact for the Bulgari collection too. Second, we live in a very dynamic world and have to recognise when changes make certain things unaffordable. To be honest, today it is difficult to be viable with a limited base. Without doing this, probably we would have seen GG/DR going bust and disappearing from the market.
PPro: Can you comment on the chat-room rumours that GG/DR employees were treated badly during this absorption of the brands into Bulgari? That has been the biggest source of rant and rage amongst the fans.
FT: There are three things that should be said:-
1) We are keeping the ‘centre of excellence’ in Le Sentier and will invest to increase capacity because we hope it has to respond to larger needs as we become more successful tomorrow.
2) There is a huge respect within the Bulgari Group for the GG/DR centres of excellence because the upgrading of the Bulgari collection and quality in recent years was driven by the experience of Le Sentier.
3) A certain number of employees in administration and sales at GG/DR may leave the organisation because of the re-structuring; but they were not the only ones. Together with the people from GG/DR, we also lost Bulgari employees because of the re-structuring at Bulgari that was much larger than the GG/DR part. Unfortunately, we lost a certain number of people but the rumour is totally ungrounded!
PPro: Some people have commented that we know about the movements from GG/DR are inside the watches so why not leave out the old names and just move to Bulgari brand in one swift move?
FT: We heard this also but I think it is important to be honest with our history. It is true that these Bulgari branded pieces now are based on the history and know-how from GG/DR as the centres of excellence; it adds something to the products.
PPro: Thank you from the PuristS for your candour.
The visit to Bulgari ‘booth’ at Baselworld is an amazing experience. First, it is not a mere booth but the whole basement of Halle 4 approached by the steepest staircase in Basel. Inside, there are many levels of exhibition rooms, private salons and a full size restaurant.
We see the history of the brand and the various Manufactures. The 2010 novelties have been well covered on our Bulgari forum so I will only highlight the models that caught my eye.
Various updates to the GG/DR models were seen and new colours made available.
Lumiere Tourbillon in rose gold for the first time
Bulgari Collection Daniel Roth Endurer Chronosprint
This is going to be a winner for Bulgari. The cleaned up dial and detail is now cohesive and appealing. A great starter sporty Bulgari watch from the Collection Daniel Roth.
Bulgari Collection Gérald Genta Octo Quadri-Retro Chronograph
The first reaction was, “What a mouthful of name!” I understand that Bulgari wanted to “seal the alliance on the new watch creations, where Bulgari Brand is featured along with the Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth logos”, to quote Mr Trapani; but “Really? 19 syllables?” When the dust settles, we could just call this the Octo Quadri-Retro Chronograph. Those who care – already know about the Octo case and Gérald Genta movement as used before. Those who don’t care – must just like the watch on its own merits. Some commented that it was not as ‘bold’ as they would have expected; Gérald Genta was known for numerals that ‘popped’ out on the dial. Other said they liked the subtle refinement overlaid on clearly Gérald Genta motifs.
Some wished for a switch in position of the Bulgari and Gérald Genta logos but I thought that was irrational and petty bluster as they were not complaining about the design but just the precedence. Overall, it was received well and the current Mrs MTF (final arbitrator) pronounced it ‘Acceptable’. Quod erat demonstratum.
Bulgari Collection Gérald Genta Grand Sonnerie Tourbillon
Those that are in the know, are cognisant of the strides that Gérald Genta has taken in developing striking watches over the last decade, spearheaded by their work on the measurement of musicality. Having developed their proprietary analysis program, we are expecting better strikers from Gérald Genta.
This dial aesthetic is polarising. The retrograde-hours arc complements the arc window of the minutes display. One can understand the balance of the linear segments of hour markers on the left of the dial with the 4 circles on the right side; but the (E)mpty – (F)ull indicators seem incongruent with the refinement expected at this level of luxury.
Collection Gerald Genta Octo Jumping Hour Bi-Retrograde
Cleaned-up dial , not too extravagant, or wider appeal but stil with that unique movement Cal 7722.
The Gefica lives!
Calibro 168 and Sotirio Bulgari
The most important novelty is actually the Bvlgari in-house base automatic movement Calibro 168. This simple basic movement is the most important step for vertical integration in haute horlogerie. It sets the scene for less reliance on other movement manufacturers for future all-Bulgari watches.
The Sotirio Bulgari Calibro 168 is a winner as an entry level all-Bulgari watch.
Diagono Professional X-Pro
The updated Diagono Professional is another winner with chronograph and GMT function. The new strap is very comfortable although some will miss the old rubber/metal linked bracelet.
Vintage and new models were displayed as were the Tubogas models
Il Giocatore Veneziano
New dial colours are available for this minute repeater gambling dice display watch. A working automaton was also shown.
A real Il Giocatore Veneziano automaton was demonstrated.
First, you had to wind it up
Cups lifted to show '2' and '5'.
Right cup lifted and the '2' has changed to a '3'.
Right cup dropped.
Left cup lifted to show the '5' has changed to a '1'.
Ergo, don't gamble with the Gambler !
Bulgari design culture and motifs are usually described as bold, colourful, earthy, dramatic, raw emotion, lusty, and generational. Their celebrity clientele have also been bold, larger-than-life characters, dramatic (Richard Burton), emotional (Elizabeth Taylor), lusty (Audrey Hepburn), and generational (Kirk and Michael Douglas). This may answer those who worried that the Gérald Genta style may have been too flamboyant for Bulgari to assimilate.
The vertical integration of manufacturing at Bulgari Group is now ‘complete’, with internal expertise to make every part of the watch – dials, cases, bracelets, movements, and gem-setting – if they wish. Obviously, for pricing reasons, some outsourced components are used in the more affordable models. The acquisition of Cadras Design, Prestige D’Or, Crova, Finger, Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth appear to complete the game plan started in 1984 but accelerated after the 1995 listing of Bulgari SpA on the Italian Stock Exchange. Bulgari is sounding the warning to the likes of Cartier and Chopard: they are seriously in the watch business now!
This message has been edited by AnthonyTsai on 2010-09-09 09:59:27