On Tuesday night, Bulgari‘s CEO Jean-Christophe Babin welcomed top editors and publishers to the brand’s Fifth Avenue flagship to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its foray into watchmaking. The BVLGARI BVLGARI collection, now a cornerstone of the brand’s offerings that includes timepieces, fine jewelry, and even handbags, began with a watch inspired by ancient Roman coins. Babin explains its ascent.
What was so groundbreaking about the use of a brand’s name as part of a design?
In those times, the early ’70s, no one in the world of high luxury was using a true logo. The point, for the Bulgari family, was to pay tribute to the Roman coin from Imperial times—2,000 years before—when the Emperor used to mint coins, engraving his name and his city on the edge of the coin, and putting his face in the middle. It was daring to put a family name, combined with a city name, as a key point of distinctiveness of the watch. The case shape was also extremely contemporary. It took off so quickly, and has already managed to grow through a couple of generations—from a watch to becoming a jewel, from a jewel to a ladies’ watch, to becoming a bag. Today, we celebrate the watch, but [BVLGARI BVLGARI] is also a very strong-selling jewel line and a very successful bag line.
How many products are in the BVLGARI BVLGARI collection?
We have about 25 watches, about 90 pieces of jewelry, and about 15 to 20 bags. We also use the symbol in some sunglasses. Everything put together, it’s 150 or 160 different products.
How do you plan to grow that product category in upcoming seasons?
Bulgari itself has proven to be timeless, and you can improve the design, without changing it deeply. It’s more about innovation—for ladies’ this year, we’re producing a version of the watch that combines the BVLGARI Roma head of the watch with the Tubogas bracelet. Tubogas is one of the most famous Bulgari bracelets; it was launched in the ’60s. For men, we’re using the famous Finissimo Tourbillon movement in the BVLGARI Roma case, to turn it into the most elegant BVLGARI Roma case ever. Without changing the code, you can bring a lot of freshness to a historical line like BVLGARI BVLGARI.
Which BVLGARI BVLGARI watch do you wear?
Personally, I’m loving the Finissimo version. It brings a very strong, element dimension into BVLGARI BVLGARI. It’s very emblemembic of Bulgari watchmaking, and it suits my style. I love this expression of ultimate elegance while keeping the strong historical character of the Roman coin.