Editor’s note: This year, the Bulgari watch department celebrated its fifth year in a row of record-breaking watches with the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic. While some in the watch industry are still coming to terms with the horological success of a brand with roots in jewellery, Bulgari have actually been making watches since 1975. A couple of years ago, Andrew had the opportunity to see the first ever watch from the brand, the Bulgari Roma, when it was on display at the Tokyo National Museum. He captured his impressions at the time, and told the legend of why it was first produced.
Surrounded by dazzling diamonds and gemstones is a digital wristwatch, on a frayed woven rope strap. With its simple LCD display in a yellow gold case, the watch looks a little out of place amid the delicate, glittering finery that surrounds it. But this is the Art of Bulgari exhibition, which celebrated 130 years of the brand at the Tokyo National Museum. And this watch — the Bulgari Roma — is very important to the Italian jewellery house. It’s the brand’s first ever wristwatch, and the tale behind its genesis and their almost accidental entry into the world of watchmaking is a fascinating one.