It all started a century ago, when Italian jewellery house Bulgari introduced an exclusive platinum watch adorned with magnificent diamonds. Created in the spirit of the Art Deco period, in which attention to geometrical shapes and gem-setting details were supreme, the rectangular dial displayed blue Arabic numerals and open-tipped hands.
This year, the brand is celebrating the golden jubilee of its high jewellery pieces from 1918, long before it became synonymous with the iconic Serpenti models. The celebrations began during Baselworld, with a number of record-breaking watches for men and women; among them was the alluring Diva Finissima Minute Repeater.
The timepiece fuses the art of crafting precious jewellery with fine watchmaking skills, practised at the atelier in Le Sentier. It chimes the time on
demand and also shows off a bold gold- spangled urushi lacquered dial. But, what actually makes this piece unique is that it is powered by the world’s thinnest wristwatch minute repeater movement—Calibre BVL 362 Finissimo—which was presented by Bulgari in its Octo collection two years ago. However, with the Diva Finissima Minute Repeater, it is the first time the company has used the movement in a classically styled ladies’ timepiece.
This is evident in the slight tweaking of the name—Finissimo to Finissima. “The Diva Finissima Minute Repeater has been created in a strict limited edition of ten units to celebrate 100 years of jewellery watches at Bulgari,” says Guido Terreni, managing director of Bulgari Watches. “This watch is different as it gathers the core values of the brand, which are jewellery, artistic craftsmanship and the highest Swiss expertise. These are all fused in a perfectly balanced, elegant creation. It is unlike the regular minute repeaters, which only focus on the chiming mechanism.”
Crafted in an exceptionally slim 18k rose gold case measuring 37mm, the watch chimes a crystal-clear tune once the mechanism is activated by a gem-set charm. Its design is softened by tapered lugs, whose curves are accentuated by brilliant-cut diamonds. An 18k rose gold winding crown, set with a splendid facetted diamond, offers a counterpoint to these gently rounded shapes. “The design of this piece is inspired by the fan-shaped mosaics of the Caracalla baths in Rome,” says Terreni. “Bulgari’s creations relate to the brand’s historical DNA, which is rooted in Rome since ancient times. We never forget this and that is why all our creations reflect our rich heritage, whether it is jewellery or fine watchmaking. The Diva’s Dream mirrors the same values and expresses perfectly our quest for elegance and refinement.”
An experienced artisan crafts the dial from Urushi lacquer, in harmony with the finest Japanese traditions. For an entire month, around ten layers of shimmering plant-based lacquer are applied to the dial plate. Each operation calls for deft brush strokes, followed by a 48-hour drying process, which involves accurate and delicate polishing with a cotton pad and stag-horn powder. “There are multiple challenges when it relates to this very
particular piece, the first being the fusing of the traditional minute repeater movement with an elegant jewelled watch, while retaining all the design and artistic codes,” says Terreni.
Furthermore, to achieve a perfectly dense yet translucent cloud of gold spangles, the particles are sieved through a bamboo shoot and sprinkled across the surface, while the last layer is coated with transparent lacquer, designed to increase the visual depth effect. Finally, the firm’s gem setters fit tiny diamond hour-markers on this miniature-painted surface as well as around the bezel to complete the magic of bringing this piece to life.