In June, Bulgari presented its vision of the Garden of Eden, called Giardino Dell’Eden Piccolissimo. It was an extravagant jewelry watch covered in diamonds, rubies, pink tourmalines, mandarin garnet, pink and yellow sapphires and rock crystal, all set around the dial on the wings of a butterfly, the scales of a slithering snake and throughout a bed of flowers in bloom.
The opulent piece concealed one remarkable detail: At its heart was the caliber BVl100, also known as the Piccolissimo (“very small” in Italian), a mechanical micromovement designed in-house by Bulgari to power its high-end jewelry watches.
“This is the product of our miniaturization know-how from Switzerland and our art of jewelry making from Italy,” Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, creative director of Bulgari Watches, said in an interview in Paris in June.
During most of the 20th century, Bulgari used small mechanical movements in its jewelry watches, but the Roman jeweler switched to quartz- or battery-powered movements in the late 1970s when the popularity of Japanese-made quartz watches put many Swiss mechanical movement manufacturers out of business.
The Piccolissimo, which debuted in January in four Serpenti “secret watches” (timepieces disguised as bracelets), is a return to that early practice — but with a difference. The caliber has 102 components that weigh a total of 1.3 grams (.045 ounces), it is 12.3 millimeters in diameter and 2.5 millimeters thick, and, the brand said, it will keep a watch ticking for 30 hours.
“We put in a lot of effort to ensure its reliability,” Mr. Buonamassa Stigliani said. “If you don’t master miniaturization, you can end up with a very small power reserve.”
Precision and reliability in ultrathin watches have been the executive’s daily focus since 2001, when he joined Bulgari (with the exception of a two-year absence when he worked elsewhere as a consultant). An industrial designer who came to watches after working in the automotive industry, he has been what the brand’s chief executive, Jean-Christophe Babin, called at the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève awards “Bulgari’s own Leonardo da Vinci, both an artist and an engineer.” (Mr. Babin was accepting the Aiguille d’Or, the top prize at the Grand Prix, for the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar with a retrograde date display, which featured a power reserve of 60 hours.)
In the last decade, Mr. Buonamassa Stigliani has been the force behind Bulgari’s transformation from a jewelry brand into a respected player in the men’s luxury sport-watch category.
And since 2014, his design team has achieved eight world records for ultraslim movements, including the world’s thinnest watch, the 1.8 millimeter Octo Finissimo Ultra — that is until July 6, when Richard Mille …….