At present moment Bulgari's watch department brings about a third of its global turnover. In the 1970s the brand introduced its iconic 'Bulgari-Bulgari' watch that marked the beginning of a unique collection bearing a distinctly Italian flair. Having used outsourced movements for many years, Bulgari has started developing its own calibers and parts.
The company with 1.01-billion-euro turnover in 2006, presently represents the third largest luxury retail jeweler in the world, following Tiffany and Cartier. It employs more than 2,500 people in 22 countries, having opened 232 stores in 38 countries. Bulgari produces a wide range of items, including jewelry, eyewear, fragrances, and porcelain. The company also manages hotels and resorts.
Bulgari watches make up about 29 percent of the company's total turnover. According to Francesco Trappani (Bulgari CEO since 1984 and nephew of the two owners, Paolo and Nicola Bulgari), by 2012 the company will have reached prestigious manufacture status - it has concentrated its attention not only on the highly complicated mechanisms, but basic calibers as well.
Bulgari Snake-Styled Watch
Bulgari unveiled its first big hit in the 1940s. It was an amazing snake-styled watch winding its body a few times around the wrist, with the head facing toward the wearer, while the watch itself was placed in the beast's mouth.
The company redesigned the timepiece a couple of times. The last time it was revived in the 1970s - the snake-like watch was created without a real tail and the watch itself replaced the snake's head.
Then, the Bulgari brothers asked Swiss design-genius Gerald Genta to create a unique watch for them. They wanted the timepiece to demonstrate the Italian style and bear the distinctive characteristics of a true trendsetter.
Gerald Genta tried hard to convince the Bulgari brothers to use his design of a slimly cut cylinder with two absolutely flat surfaces and 'Bvlgari' written twice around the bezel. The brothers were shocked by this flashy design distinctively displaying their name. This idea did not match the distinct taste featured by their jewelry. But the designer managed to convince the brothers the unexpected design would turn out to bring great success.
Bulgari Time SA - From Three-Handed to Complicated Watches
The 'Bulgari-Bulgari' watch designed by Gerald Genta marked only the first highlight in the watchmaking history of the brand. The Bulgari Company redoubled efforts to develop the watchmaking department.
The firm acquired a factory in Neuchatel, Switzerland, having come to the conclusion that the quality they strived for should be symbolized with the Swiss-made designation. Thus, the production of Bulgari watches takes place at Bulgari Time S.A. founded in 1980 (headquartered in Neuchatel).
Nowadays, Bulgari Time SA employs about 500 people. It occupies an old, impressive six-story building that in the past belonged to Fabaque Micro Mechanique, a company that used to deal with the production of mechanical components for telephones. It employed 1,000 people who became victims of the mobile phone popularity. The building was reworked to correspond to the needs of a watchmaking company aware of the secret of the magic mixture of Italian ingredients and Swiss know-how.
The Bulgari Company develops a lot of its designs in its headquarters in Rome. It has invested heavily in Swiss companies to match their high quality standards and secure their parts' supplies. This strategy started in 2000 with acquiring Daniel Roth and Gerald Genta from The Hourglass Group, a big wholesaler/retailer located in Singapore. In 2005 Bulgari acquired 51 percent of the shares of Prestige D'Or, bracelets' producer, and 50 percent of Cadrans Design, a company developing high-end dials.
The Bulgari group managed to build up a respectable watch company that runs the production of almost all its components. Having started as successful watch designers, now Bulgari have become real professionals in the high-end Swiss watch industry.
The Bulgari watch collection features the following lines: Bulgari-Bulgari, Assioma, Ergon Diagono, and Rettangolo. Among the models forming the lines you will discover a diversity of designs, styles and functions, including luxurious ladies' watches, stylish men's watches and sports models.
The Bulgari watch collection comprises simple three-handed watches, as well as timepieces with many complications. Watch enthusiasts who appreciate one-of-a-kind timepieces will also discover them among Bulgari timekeeping creations.
During the last 20 years Bulgari was supplied with the movements for complicated timepieces through a joint venture with Girard-Perregaux. The cooperation started in 1989. Since 1994, Bulgari equipped some nicely designed round-shaped Anfitheatro watches with tourbillon- and minute-repeater-movements produced by Girard-Perregaux.
Yet, Bulgari wanted to have all things under its own roof, so it purchased the Roth and Genta company and started the production of highly complicated watches. As a result, at BaselWorld 2006 Bulgari revealed the Assioma Multi Complication. The sophisticated timepiece equipped with tourbillon, perpetual calendar and second time zone was housed into the stylish Assioma case.