Are You Prejudiced Against A Brand? A look into Bulgari and Gerald Genta, brands of the future.
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 Today, that superficial reasoning "it's a pen brand" or "it's a jewelry brand" is no longer valid.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 WatchProSite.com
(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.
without his mustache. An Italian man who drew the design of the Royal Oak on a napkin! Photo credit: Bulgari.com
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: Bulgari.com
This is the ”Octo" case as you see today.
Photo credit: Bulgari.com
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.
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 www.thenakedwatchmaker.com
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. www.watchprosite.com
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?