Editor’s Note: This year Bulgari released quite a few new Octo models, including the record-shattering ultra-thin minute repeater – a limited edition with a premium price tag. But it wasn’t just the Genta-designed classic that received the updates – the brand also added a bunch of colourful Diagono Magnesium Chronographs that we can’t wait to get our hands on. In the meantime, here’s last year’s time-only version.
The story in a second:
Bulgari’s latest addition to the avant-garde Diagono collection – the Diagono Magnesium – is a watch that challenges expectations and industry norms.
We’ve become so used to sports watches with the heft of hockey pucks that this slender and featherlight Diagono is a refreshing change of pace. It also speaks to Bulgari’s design confidence that such impressively futuristic materials serve the functionality of the watch, rather than just showing off. The final result is comfortable, tough and good looking.
The 41mm case features not one but four next-generation materials and treatments. The case middle is made from magnesium – an extremely light metal that also happens to be very tough, which makes it the perfect choice for the action-oriented Bulgari. The bezel is scratch-proof black ceramic, etched with the brand’s iconic text. The ceramic and magnesium alone would be enough for this watch to stand tall among the hi-tech sports watch crowd, but Bulgari has taken it to the next level. The sides of the case are made from PolyEtherEtherKetone – known by the cute acronym PEEK – which possesses the kind of temperature and structural resilience that has seen it used instead of metal on space shuttles. Clearly, it can deal with any damage you try and dish out. The final ingredient is Motor-Lac, a protective lacquer developed by the automotive industry that gives the Diagono its distinctive, colourful and shimmering sandblasted finish. Given this complex array of components, it would have been tempting to turn the Diagono into a gadget watch, but thankfully it’s retained the classic Bulgari styling, just with a modern twist.
Going into the shoot, our photographer Jason thought this simple monochrome watch would be one of the easier ones to capture. He was wrong. The Motor-Lac treatment gives the dial a reflective, granulated look that’s simply intriguing, but while it looks awesome in real life, it turns out to be very hard to capture accurately (though he managed to do a stellar job). By contrast, the hands are simple and the applied indices and numerals unobtrusive. Given all the reflective surfaces at play, legibility might be an issue for some, in which case go for the higher contrast blue or gold-toned options.
Appropriately enough, the Diagono comes on a vulcanised rubber strap, untextured except for the broad ridge in the centre, with a PEEK pin buckle. The most notable thing about this strap is that it’s a proprietary design, meaning that if you’re the kind of guy who likes mixing up your straps, your only option is to get official Bulgari alternatives or have custom ones made to fit the case. This lack of flexibility is a pity, because given the case colour and texture, you could come up with some awesome combos.
The Diagono utilises Bulgari’s manufacture BVL 191 Solotempo movement – a reliable automatic with 42 hours of power reserve. While there’s nothing groundbreaking about this, it makes a nice change from the usual ETA/Sellita movements. And you’ll have to take our word that the movement is well finished with chamfering, Geneva stripes and the like – as it’s hidden behind the PVD caseback.
On the Wrist
This is a watch you hardly notice you’re wearing. The rubber strap, magnesium case and reasonable proportions make for a timepiece that’s unobtrusive without being delicate. In fact, the Diagono Magnesium reflects an almost old-fashioned understanding of what a luxury sports watch is. The genre as we know it has evolved from its originators – the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – to a point where sport is synonymous with size. Take for example Richard Mille. His watches are among the finest micro-mechanical marvels ever made, built to withstand enormous stresses, but they’re still of a size that increases the likelihood of your watch coming into contact with an immovable object – like a wall. By keeping the Diagono Magnesium to comparatively modest dimensions, Bulgari has actually created a watch that is a far more practical sports watch than most. It’s light, it doesn’t get in your way, but it still makes a statement. Well done Bulgari.
What, your watch is made of steel? Old news. Mine’s made from magnesium and space age polymer.
Who’s it for?
Anyone who wants all the bells and whistles of a next-gen sports watch, but in a palatably sized package.
For the watch forums
Why don’t more watch brands use PEEK?
What would we change
Even though we respect where Bulgari is going with the utilitarian, sports watch aesthetic of the Diagono, it would be nice to be able to check out the movement through a display caseback.
Bulgari Diagono Magnesium Australian pricing
The Diagono Magnesium has an RRP of $5350.
Images by Jason Reekie.