History of Notable Bvlgari Watches
A Greek silversmith named Sotirios Boulgaris founded his jewelry company in 1884 in Rome, Italy. Over the next few decades, Bulgari (the Italian spelling of his name) would gain an increasing reputation in the Italian jewelry world. Although Bulgari’s roots are in high jewelry and fashion, they also have a long history of high-end watchmaking. Beautiful diamond-covered Bulgari watches can be found dating back to the 1920’s, as can jump-hour watches from the 1930’s.
Bulgari’s first big success in the luxury watch world came in 1948 with the launch of the Serpenti watch, a distinctive snake-like ladies’ dress watch made with the Tubogas technique. The Tubogas technique involves wrapping long bands of gold around a steel core, which is how Bulgari created a flexible and comfortable bracelet that wraps around the wrist multiple times.
Watches didn’t become a full-blown core part of Bulgari’s business until 1982, when they founded their own watch maison known as Bulgari Time. That decision can be traced back to a Christmas gift Bulgari sent to 100 of their best clients in 1975. It was an electronic quartz watch, and although it may not look very impressive now, keep in mind that Pulsar had made wristwatch history by making the first digital LED-display watch only three years earlier.
The Original Bvlgari Roma Gift Watch
These gold digital Bvlgari Roma watches caused far more of a stir than the company anticipated, perhaps in part because of their status as something “money couldn’t buy,” and it certainly didn’t hurt that these watches were being seen on the wrists of a hundred (presumably) wealthy and influential people. The unexpected hype of the Roma drove Bulgari to release what would become its most famous watch design ever in 1977:
The BVLGARI BVLGARI Watch
The BVLGARI BVLGARI watch–designed by the most famous watch designer in history, Gerald Genta— features a now-iconic circular bezel with “BVLGARI” written twice on it. In 1988, Bulgari would release what is essentially a sports version of the BVLGARI BVLGARI: The Diagono. Ten years later, Bvlgari created an aluminum version of the Diagono, simply called the Bvlgari Aluminium, and it has been popular ever since.
Bulgari Octo Watches
The only men’s watch lineup Bulgari currently offers aside from the BVLGARI BVLGARI is the Octo. The Bulgari Octo L’Originale was launched in 2012, but that actually wasn’t the beginning of the Octo line. The first Octo was a quadruple-retrograde chronograph released under the Gerald Genta brand (owned by Bulgari since 2000) in 2008. Bi-retrograde and retrograde tourbillon models were also made, later with both Bvlgari and Gerald Genta on the dial, and eventually just Bvlgari. Although Genta often gets credited with designing the Octo, it seems it was only inspired by a Genta design–the Octogonal from the 1990’s–as Gerald Genta’s heritage website makes no mention of the modern Octo.
The Octo Finissimo Automatic in titanium is probably Bulgari’s most popular current men’s watch.
Spelling: Bulgari vs. Bvlgari
The official name of the company is Bulgari S.p.A. but they’ve consistently been using the classical Latin spelling (“BVLGARI”) on their logo since 1934. “Bulgari” is most often used for all non-logo purposes, although it is generally considered acceptable to use both spellings interchangeably.
Are Bvlgari Watches Good?
Yes, Bvlgari is a legit luxury watchmaker with iconic designs like the BVLGARI BVLGARI and Octo under its belt. Their in-house movements are well-regarded, and Bvlgari has been one of the world’s leaders in making ultra-thin mechanical movements since the release of the Octo Finissimo in 2014. Many enthusiasts say that the finishing is on par with Jaeger-LeCoultre watches of a similar price.
Who Wears Bvlgari Watches?
A-list actors like Adrien Brody, Chris Hemsworth, and Bradley Cooper have all been seen sporting Bulgari Octo watches. The ladies’ Bvlgari watch most often spotted on the red carpet is definitely the Serpenti, seen on the wrists of the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Banks and Marisa Berenson.
Does Bulgari Make the Thinnest Watch in the World?
Not quite. The Octo Finissimo Ultra–launched in 2022 with an astoundingly-slim 1.8mm case height–was the thinnest mechanical watch in the world for a few months, but now that honor belongs to the 1.75mm-thick Richard Mille RM UP-01 FERRARI.