Baselworld 2010: Bulgari Novelties - an Interview with CEO Francesco Trapani

Apr 05, 2010,16:47 PM

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'.

Cups dropped.


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

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Comments: view entire thread


I love the Endurer...

 By: fai9al_429 : April 5th, 2010-18:17
And that Diagono X-Pro is really really cool

The Endurer and Gefica are still cool but.....

 By: DRMW : April 5th, 2010-23:59
Thanks for the photo coverage MTF and to Ping for posting it up. IMO, the Endurer and Gefica are still cool but this piece is really an eye catcher! -MW...  

I totally agree --NT

 By: Massi : April 6th, 2010-16:34

It's the Bulgari Gerald Genta Tourbillon Sapphire

 By: pingtsai : April 6th, 2010-19:22
...per MTF and his Bulgari sources, an impressive piece indeed.

I love the dial...

 By: dxboon : April 6th, 2010-23:52
...but hate the case (at least in pictures). I do want to see it in person, though! Cheers, Daos

Nice presentation by Bulgari!

 By: dxboon : April 7th, 2010-00:02
Thanks, Ping, for pulling this together for us (and thanks to MTF too for all his hard work). This is the piece that really caught my eye: It's elegant, yet playful. I've always liked the ellipsocurvex shape from DR. It's great to see all the novelties fr...  

Everyone has a budget (almost), but the Bulgari Diagono X Pro will be on my list

 By: bernard cheong : April 7th, 2010-17:34
I spent almost a day, in fact, I went twice to Bulgari, during Basel...explored the rooms, ate lunch, wasted everyone's time...including half of the staff and design team...and that's alot of time to waste (especially when I am not press or moderator)...B...  

So Bernard do you like the X Pro? :P

 By: ED209 : April 7th, 2010-19:49
Besides the solid mass of the X-Pro, what other design features attract you to this particular watch? Would it be even more impressive and massive if it was offered on a solid metal bracelet instead of the rubber strap? Looking forward to when you get you... 

The X Pro will deliver several tactile and emotional feelings that others will not.

 By: bernard cheong : April 7th, 2010-23:33
Yes..I like it. (1) If..only likes weight, in itself a relative sensation...the X Pro will deliver. When dealing with weight, it is often much more of how the mass balances itself on the wrist, rather than the actual mass itself. (2) Second, some ... 

Thanks Bernard for the detail

 By: ED209 : April 8th, 2010-16:45
Point #3 is very interesting. I'll have to try it on the next visit to an AD to see if I can 'feel' a Bulgari watch in a blind test. Regards, ED-209

Great post Bernard. This kind of statement...

 By: SJX : April 8th, 2010-07:33
"this is a watch you could have sex in, there are not many watches that a man will look good in when he is naked! Come to think of it, only women look good naked with watches on. Hmmm...socks too...why do men look strange naked with socks on and women loo... 

Thanks MTF and Ping for the Bulgari Novelties and live pics

 By: ED209 : April 7th, 2010-19:46
And great interview with Mr. Trapani. I appreciate his candor regarding the questions about the Bulgari brand and GG/DR. As for the watches, wow. Great to see that the Endurer and Gefica are alive and continuing in the collection. The X-Pro (also mentione... 

The X-Pro

 By: fai9al_429 : April 7th, 2010-21:06 definitely a monster of a watch, I fell in love immediately when I saw the photos, I have a feeling that I'll love it even more when I see it in the metal. I can definitely see it on my wrist in the near future

Thanks MTF and Ping

 By: SJX : April 8th, 2010-07:35
Tthe Il Giocatore Veneziano is totally unchanged from pre-restructuring - not much that can be done to change it without losing its character. - SJX

A great interview and great pictures of the GG and DR timepieces...

 By: patrick_y : April 8th, 2010-08:18
Thank you for the interview MTF! I've been very curious about why Bulgari decided to enter this market, and your questions were very intuitive and helped me answer my own questions! Thank you for the great photographs and the insightful interview! My inte... 


 By: 11111 : April 10th, 2010-23:50
On a very personal note, I am disappointed to see a fashion brand name printed on these dials so excessively... almost taking over the creations of others. I do not question the know-how of Bulgari and I wish them well, but I much prefer that in my wife's... 

RE: But...

 By: ED209 : April 11th, 2010-22:16
Hi BCL, Welcome to the Bulgari forum. Thanks for your opinions on the Bulgari collection. I'm just curious, you mentioned that you are disappointed to see a fashion brand name printed on these dials ... and on your wife's Gefica you prefer there is only t... 

No problem

 By: 11111 : April 12th, 2010-14:57
Hi ED, Thanks for your reply. It does not bother me that the man sold his company, as subsequent collections have remained faithful and recognizable as GG. I believe the recreation of the Gefica is a stunning piece, truthful to the character of the origin...  

Wow BCL!

 By: pingtsai : April 13th, 2010-09:52
Very cool Gefica on your wife's wrist...seldom see such a masculine looking watch on a woman's wrist. But the look is extremely appealing because of the uniqueness. I'm curious. Does your wife enjoy wearing large watches most of the time? And what is her ... 

gefica is nice on a woman's wrist

 By: 11111 : April 15th, 2010-14:44
Thank you pingtsai. It does look cool on her wrist. I am not very keen to find out my wife's opinion on Bulgari jewelry.

Nice wrist shot!

 By: ED209 : April 13th, 2010-18:30
Thanks BCL. Hope to see some current closeup patina shots of your wife's Gefica. Is this her daily wearer or does she switch off with other watches? Regards, ED-209

Daily wearer

 By: 11111 : April 14th, 2010-21:06
Hi Ed, It is her daily wearer, as the rest are just too small. She also likes using my Panerais. I will post pictures. Regards.

Great coverage. Thank you. [nt]

 By: VMM : April 13th, 2010-10:59
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