Are You Prejudiced Against A Brand? A look into Bulgari and Gerald Genta, brands of the future.

Jan 12, 2022,23:49 PM

Come on...  Admit it.  We are all prejudiced.  We all have our tendencies, our prejudices, and our proclivities.  And we all like Rolex.  It was made for the masses. 

But, there's a famous saying, "never say never" and I often hear young watch collectors and even older and wiser collectors say the words, "I will never buy Brand X" and "I will always buy Brand Y."  By extension, if you should never say never, then you should probably be careful when you say "always." 

Pretty cool by my standards.  An interplay of brushed and polished surfaces.  The case has over 100 facets! 

The Bulgari Octo Finissimo is a watch that YOU SHOULD absolutely take a look at even if you said "never" before.  Every watch lover should look at this watch.  But so many dismiss it because they regard Bulgari as a jewelry brand and not a watch brand.  Admittedly, I dismissed Montblanc for a fountain pen company until they made some of the best watches in the world with their Villeret manufacture.  Today, that superficial reasoning "it's a pen brand" or "it's a jewelry brand" is no longer valid.  It's entirely evident that when a big brand like Bulgari or Montblanc put considerable time, money, effort, and their sizeable resources into something, they really equate to an excellent product. 

But how did these brands become such an amazing powerhouse? 

The Minerva Villeret 16.29 movement is probably one of the best finished and best traditional architecture movements in the chronograph world.  The movement finishing is incredible and surpasses the big three.  Photo credit: Jrwong WatchProSite Moderator

Montblanc was handed the reins to manage Minverva Villeret after Richemont took control of Villeret.  With the expertise at Villeret, Montblanc created some of the world's best watches - the Villeret timepieces under Dmitri Cabbideau had the best finishing and some of the best movement architecture in the world.  They weren't necessarily a huge commercial success, because the movements were large, many were pocket-watch sized movements and they were difficult to be incorporated into a smaller case.  A steel cased Minerva Villeret Chronograph movement was bestowed with a blue dial.  Limited to only 50 pieces, about two dozen of the owners were members of (around 40-50% of the entire production went to WatchProSite members)!  Amazing!  Just goes to show, the readers here really understand, appreciate, AND ACQUIRE great timepieces. 

Gerald Genta without his mustache.  An Italian man who drew the design of the Royal Oak on a napkin!  Photo credit: m

Bulgari acquired the Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth brands a couple decades ago.  With a large investment in time and money, Bulgari developed in conjunction with Gerald Genta a series of in-house movements.  All super thin and cased in a thin yet modern design with an integrated bracelet this is the ethos that once defined Gerald Genta's original designs.  But the original 1970s iconic Genta watches were mostly quite thin.  The Nautilus and Royal Oak had thin movements and were thin when cased.  Bulgari wanted to achieve this, but they didn't have a thin movement, they could've bought a solution from Piguet, ETA, or another movement-house, but they decided they wanted no compromise in the design of the watch, and thus they went on a quest for thin-ness in-house.  The Gerald Genta brand has a lot of experience creating grand complication watches, and thus experience thinning those complex movements.  With the experience and human capital, only thing required was money and time.  Lots of money and lots of time.  Bulgari invested a fortune into making complex ultra-thin calibers. 

Early Gerald Genta watch in the Octagonal shape. This shape inspired future watches and ultimately the ”Octo Finissimo" range. Photo credit: m

This is the ”Octo" case as you see today. Photo credit: m

The Roman Brand did create an amazing piece of high horology, but the finishing isn't exactly on par with Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin.  But keep in mind, extra-thin movements are incredibly difficult to manufacture and some finishing processes risk bending the plate.  But look at the photo below, the anglage is reasonably good for such a thin movement.  It's not Geneva Seal level, but it's still quite good! 

Extra-thin should be recognized as a complication in itself, as it's so difficult to design, manufacture, and assemble an extra thin movement.  An ultra thin minute repeater just sounds like an impossible feat - yet, a "jewelry" brand made one!  When was the last time you heard of a Swiss brand making an ultra-thin minute repeater?  They are definitely few and far between. 

A super unique architecture is employed for this movement.  Not only are the plates and bridges wafer thin, you also see a large amount of jewels.  Most time-only movements have around 17 jewels, but this one has 31!  Some of these jewels aren't necessarily used as pinions, but used as separators to prevent things from touching in such a thin movement!  For an in-depth movement analysis, visit Peter Speake-Marin's site here and read his commentary c

Can Bulgari truly be the best in two subjects?  Both the best in jewelry and the best in watchmaking?  Can Jack Dorsey really be CEO for both Square and Twitter?  The stock market might say NO.  Can Sergio Marchionne really be the leader of five different organizations?  Arguably YES, but he was probably overworked and passed away likely ahead of his time.  But right now, Bulgari is likely one of those "jewelry" brands that you've been dismissing when you shouldn't.  And whether or not it can be a top contender in both jewelry and watch fields - it remains to be seen - it's definitely worthy of your recognition now - as Bulgari is definitely pushing the envelope and giving the good old Swiss brands some legitimate competition.  Soon, Bulgari will become a leader in the hotel and travel business as it becomes a lifestyle ecosystem brand.  Can it be a leader in jewelry, timepieces, and hotels?  Time will tell, but it seems that it's aiming to be a leader in lifestyle. 

Success is different for everybody.  Unfortunately, Bulgari's Octo Finissimo is sometimes still regarded as not a "serious watch" since it's from a "jewelry" brand.  But, despite this, the Octo Finissimo has already become a darling of some of the most prolific watch experts in the world.  I'm unfortunately late to the party in singing its praises, but our own Moderator, Foversta, did inform us about the greatness of the watch not that long ago in this fantastic review. ;

There are a lot of followers in the watch world.  Lots of newly minted moneyed collectors who want to own a Royal Oak or a Nautilus and buy their way into the "I'm Cool Too" club.  There are few pioneers.  Remember, for every flock of sheep, there's only one shepherd.  The sheep have mostly ignored Bulgari, for whatever reason.  I implore you to give it a chance.  Go see one.  Try one on.  And approach it with an open mind.  "Take a bite, if you still don't like the taste, you don't have to swallow," was what my father said to me when I was a child to broaden my taste for various foods.  Hmm...  Maybe I should blame him for my future weight problem. 

Thank you for reading.  What are your thoughts?  Are you prejudiced?  Do you only like big brands?  Are you rooting for the underdog?  Are you willing to perhaps consider a Bulgari timepiece now after reading this article? 

More posts: Daniel RothnautilusOcto FinissimoRoyal OakSpeake-Marin

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Comments: view entire thread


As someone who has done branding...

 By: mdg : January 12th, 2022-23:59
...for tech companies, I just can't understand why they tied the watch to pens. It makes no sense. My other issue with them is that most of the watches are too enormous for my 7.25" wrist to wear.

Montblanc at the time was trying to become a lifestyle brand...

 By: patrick_y : January 13th, 2022-00:02
Montblanc really made excellent pens. And they were convinced if they made excellent watches, that men would buy them. They didn't really "tie the watch to pens" but it does look like they did so inadvertently. Alas, while Montblanc made excellent watches... 

One more thing that ties into branding...

 By: mdg : January 13th, 2022-00:30
...their website is Montblanc, and from there you can choose pens, watches, bags, headphones, perfume, etc. If they want to be taken seriously, they should have designed a 'watches only' site, not something that looks like 'Sharper Image' or Macy's...alon... 

Couldn't the same be said for the Cartier website?

 By: Steve E : January 13th, 2022-01:49
I didn't see Cartier as a serious watch brand for a long time, but that has been corrected.

I haven't been to the Cartier site...

 By: mdg : January 13th, 2022-02:21 they are not my kind of watch. But I can't take a watch brand too seriously if they also dabble in fragrance and necklaces. Maybe that's just me. Yes, I know Patek has cuff links, etc., but those are clearly minor items in the inventory.

Agreed. They even recently had Geneva Seal timepieces!

 By: patrick_y : January 13th, 2022-06:24
There was a lady who was very serious about timepieces who ran the timepiece division at Cartier. I do believe that she has recently departed unfortunately and her efforts don't seem to be entirely continued.

Carole Forestier Kasapi was responsible for almost any complication that Cartier has, in the collection of movements.

 By: Geo : January 15th, 2022-20:08
She and her team were responsible for many amazing calibers. Currently the brand is focussing on their historic time-only models, but I am sure that we will see complications again, in the near future. The collection of Manufacture calibers is huge and th... 

Yes. I will miss her work, as her tenure was short.

 By: patrick_y : January 15th, 2022-21:38
She really tried to make Cartier into a serious watchmaking brand. It's just too bad the company decided to pivot.

Very diverse

 By: Weems@8 : January 13th, 2022-14:24
They have a kind of cuteness. From time to time i browse which watches they have.

you are getting some strategic points wrong here

 By: penfriend : January 13th, 2022-09:51
when Montblanc purchased Villeret the initial offerings (Villeret 1858 line, since 2015 discontinued) was aimed at the existing customer base in the pen business. at that time already those artisan editions sold on average around 25.000 Euro each with up ... 

My crazy rules

 By: Weems@8 : January 13th, 2022-14:28
I hold on my crazy rules tight. For Montblanc i skip the rules. Simply, they are real and they took Minerva under their save wings. I see them as a kind of Girard Perregaux.

Thank you for that insight!

 By: patrick_y : January 14th, 2022-17:23
As a Montblanc fountain pen collector since my teenager years, I'm aware of the strategy you mentioned. I can also say, we have different viewpoints. For instance, in USA, the strategy you mentioned was not utilized. But in Europe and Asia, the strategy y... 

I don't want to judge whether it worked or not

 By: penfriend : January 14th, 2022-19:10
just give the reasoning, why they branded them in 2007/8 Montblanc-Villeret instead of purely Villeret. HAGWE

Yes! Thank you for the reasoning!

 By: patrick_y : January 14th, 2022-19:44
Definitely appreciate the deep knowledge of everyone here on WatchProSite! That's why we are a great place to trade information, because inaccuracies are corrected by the community, details are richly inferred, and it makes the whole experience that much ... 

Octo is awesome but

 By: m2 : January 13th, 2022-00:06
Mine had rotor issues. Apparently quite common :\ The geneva stripes were well done in particular. Too bad...had to send it back ...  

You sent it back?

 By: patrick_y : January 13th, 2022-00:10


 By: m2 : January 13th, 2022-00:25
Yeah I bought it used. Luckily seller was AWESOME and recognized he didnt test it properly before sending out. Him and I both had a ton of transaction history etc so he was great/easy to deal with. Just disappointing. When I posted about it on another for... 

Love The Octo FS!

 By: enjoythemusic : January 13th, 2022-00:42
It's been about 16 months and love it more today due to having more time to appreciate what it represents. Never had a problem, very good accuracy, and I use it off-road bicycling, the beach/ocean, up/down dress style, etc. Not babied at all. The bracelet...  

Octo Finissimo is a leader

 By: Steve E : January 13th, 2022-02:16
I visited NYC in 2017 to see the Patek Exhibition. While in the city I stopped off at Bulgari to leave two older Genta pieces for service. Afterwards I was shown the Finissimo - I think they had only gotten 1 watch at that point. It was a real eye opener ... 

Interesting! You definitely beat to the tune of your own drum!

 By: patrick_y : January 13th, 2022-06:26
The Octo Finissimo is definitely a cool piece and you're definitely one of the early ones to have seen one back in 2017!

You know where I stand on this.

 By: Jay (Eire) : January 13th, 2022-02:24
The Octo is the most exciting new mass market watch of the last 10, 20 years even. It is the only watch in the last decade which when I first saw the press pictures I said I have to buy one (if it fit my wrist, and once I found the right one for me). Mont... 

Agreed, agreed, and agreed!

 By: patrick_y : January 13th, 2022-06:29
"The Octo is the most exciting new mass market watch of the last 10, 20 years..." So true, but it may take a while for people to recognize that. The Royal Oak and the Nautilus were game changers but not an immediate success back when they were launched. "... 

I agree! However, I am still waiting for mine to be returned!

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 13th, 2022-02:24
I also had rotor issues (as well as issues with the seconds hand). I returned it at the end of September (having purchased it in the middle of September), and now Bvlgari is saying end of February on the repairs. I'll be honest, it is pretty disheartening... 

Ugh! Gut wrenching!

 By: patrick_y : January 13th, 2022-06:30
I hope that you'll be reunited soon. For problems, they really ought to do something special for you. Afterall, you didn't sign up for problems!

At the end of the day, I am optimistic that the problems will be fixed

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-04:11
Which for me, is the primary consideration! Lord knows I have enough watches to keep me occupied in the interim!

That's the spirit! Still, you bought this watch for fun and enjoyment, not for trouble and displeasure!

 By: patrick_y : January 14th, 2022-17:24
I don't want any trouble from the things I buy. Yes, cars are mechanical and we expect trouble from them as they get older. Watches too, but I'm far less tolerant on the watches.

I see you're an early adopter! Of new tech too!

 By: patrick_y : January 13th, 2022-06:23
I'm a Model 3 owner, nice Model S you've got there!

I would happily get the octo finissimo blue dial like your picture above...

 By: hoseachandra : January 13th, 2022-04:04
If they make it smaller, perhaps 36-38 mm. As it is now, the 40 mm very square case and very wide bracelet, it does not looks nice on my wrist. Eventhough the comfort is supreme (yes i have tried it on my wrist). Now i am interested in this : 41 mm with v...  

My thoughts?

 By: patrick_y : January 13th, 2022-06:32
They had me at Maldives! Plus the design looks awesome! It's not quite as thin as the Octo Finissimo models, but it's definitely very cool. I definitely like this all black version over the other versions!

Thanks, Patrick. Fully agreed with you.

 By: hoseachandra : January 13th, 2022-13:59
I dont have any prejudice with any brand. As long as they make high quality watch, with reliable movement to keep away any fuss, and the design and function fits me, i will buy it if i can. Or i just admire them from afar and enjoy the magnificent creativ... 

I do hope you try it out at your closest Bulgari boutique!

 By: patrick_y : January 14th, 2022-17:25
Hopefully you like the way it looks and feels on your wrist!

Thank you for this enjoyable read. I learnt a few things, and I'm better for it. A few general thoughts below (if I have the energy I might follow up with more specific points citing your examples).

 By: Age_of_Surfaces : January 13th, 2022-04:10
1. Yes I have my preferences. I'm okay with that. 2. Preferences aren't prejudices. One can know one's likes and dislikes without 'hating' on things outside of one's tastes. I don't have to set up binary black-and-white contrasts to emphasise what I like,... 

You are absolutely correct!

 By: patrick_y : January 14th, 2022-17:28
1. Yes! 2. Yes, you can definitely have preferences! You can even have prejudices, and that's okay, as long as you know you're prejudiced! 3. Correct. Allow yourself to be surprised, and give credit when it's due. 4. Absolutely. There are whole teams of m... 

Agree and don’t agree

 By: Bruno.M1 : January 13th, 2022-08:03
The octo finissimo is indeed a perfect example to agree I wouldn’t have considered Bvlgari in the past but the OF was so nice I bought it and I do love it Now, where I don’t agree…. I’m pretty sure there is on brand I’ll NEVER buy…. And that’s Richard Mil... 

Plus 1 regarding RM!🙌

 By: hmd4m : January 14th, 2022-04:06

Very fair!

 By: patrick_y : January 14th, 2022-17:30
I'm glad you like your Octo Finissimo! We certainly have a lot of OF owners here who like their watch! Richard Mille is definitely not for everyone!

I can not wear any Seiko

 By: Weems@8 : January 13th, 2022-10:32
I had one, so enough i know to never ever wear a Seiko. Reliable, but broke, bad strap, i completely did not understand that watch.

Ahh. I don't own a Seiko.

 By: patrick_y : January 14th, 2022-17:31
I don't like the Seiko design language very much. Few Seikos look good on my wrist. But I still take a look every now and then to see if there is one I will like.

I don’t understand why always a Seiko automatic must be a first automatic

 By: Weems@8 : January 14th, 2022-18:10
And then they are over the moon about the inexpensive price. Maybe i am a bit different as watch collector. I opened a Seiko i owned. By surprise i discovered it contains not so great movement as an Armani watch i had. So i think Seiko got to much credits... 

Crossing my fingers for you!

 By: patrick_y : January 15th, 2022-17:58

Bulgari did watches for many decades actually just that they are more famous for jewellery.

 By: iceheller : January 13th, 2022-12:55
And what caught my eyes is their jewellery. Their watch is nice but not sure from the price perspective. Hoping to get some of their jewellery soon. : )

Terrific post, Patrick.

 By: TheMadDruid : January 13th, 2022-19:21
You’ve started a great conversation, on several points. I’m having fun reading everyone’s reaction and opinions. As someone up there said: Bulgari has been in the watch business for a long time. Buying Genta just helped refine their already unique aesthet... 

Thank you!

 By: patrick_y : January 14th, 2022-17:34
Yes. Genta and Bulgari are a great combination. Truly a great combination! Now, with the super complications like tourbillons and minute repeaters, I'm really impressed with the watchmaking skills at Bulgari/Genta.

my fear

 By: Phaedrus29 : January 13th, 2022-23:35
Whenever I read posts like this I get scared...I want an Octo badly and don't want the prices to go up.


 By: TheMadDruid : January 14th, 2022-11:50

Sorry. Better go get one soon!

 By: patrick_y : January 14th, 2022-17:34
Better go get one soon before the price increases! Which Octo has caught your eye?

Thank you!

 By: patrick_y : January 15th, 2022-21:38
Wow! Nice one! I didn't know you liked Middle-Eastern numerals.

Middle Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, Roan or Hebrew numerals

 By: Geo : January 16th, 2022-09:33
are all fine to me, it is the dial and the way that is done, that is important for me. I this case I loved the fat painted dark green numerals. GEO

Very cool!

 By: patrick_y : January 16th, 2022-18:10
My favorite style are indices or Roman numerals. I wished they'd make an Octo Finissimo with Romans!

Agreed! The Tadao Ando one is also very nice.

 By: patrick_y : January 18th, 2022-20:01
I like that the Ando one has no visible branding and the grey matte look really works well with Ando's concrete structures.