PANDEMIC BABY: Meet the watch built by two legit living legends over Zoom – the MB&F x Bulgari Legacy Machine FlyingT Allegra PANDEMIC BABY: Meet the watch built by two legit living legends over Zoom – the MB&F x Bulgari Legacy Machine FlyingT Allegra

PANDEMIC BABY: Meet the watch built by two legit living legends over Zoom – the MB&F x Bulgari Legacy Machine FlyingT Allegra

Andrew McUtchen

What did you do to express your creativity over the COVID-19 lockdowns? Get a sourdough starter-kit? Sit with your kids and fill endless reams of paper with drawings from Kids Art Hub YouTube tutorials? Learn to knit? Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani and Max Büsser designed a watch together. Comfortingly for the rest of us, who aren’t considered the greatest living watch designers on the planet, they did it over Zoom. 

The results are astonishing. Somehow emanating both Bulgari and MB&F design language. Somehow completely new, too. The masters of miniaturisation, Bulgari, under the design leadership of Fabrizio, and the “creative child that survived” in Max Busser, have come together in a truly special way here. And to let the story be told as authentically as possible – with all the lovely Italian patination of the language we expect and love from Fabrizio – we are telling it in the first person. Fabrizio takes it from here…     

THE BACKSTORY

The story started in Dubai, during my first Dubai Watch Week. Honestly, I remember so clearly. It was in 2018 and during the gala dinner. Max came to me and said, “Fabrizio, I would love to make a watch with you, because the work that you, your team are making with the Octo Finissimo is absolutely amazing!” 

But it was not the right moment to have this kind of collaboration, so in the end, it was impossible to go ahead with this project. During the last Dubai Watch Week, we discussed this topic again, but this time it was the right moment. And immediately we started to make some sketches and discuss what would be the perfect watch for this collaboration. 

Max proposed this movement and it’s very important for us because we are very well known now, as the owner, let me say, of the ultra-thin execution and as the master of miniaturisation. But this kind of design on ladies watches – it’s a very interesting opportunity for us.

It’s a completely different path for us. As you can see, it’s the vertical tourbillon made by MB&F and we decided to completely change the design of the case on the main plate that you can see around the movement. 

AN OUT OF THIS WORLD CONCEPT

The idea was to have a small, sort of UFO without any lugs, with these amazing stones that come out from the dial. The idea was to use this dome as a crystal sapphire, as the house of these different stones with a different colour and different design.

We have created one in white gold, and we have the same in rose gold. We are very happy about the results. We love the watch because it’s absolutely recognizable as an MB&F watch. On the other hand, it’s absolutely Bulgari because the way that we have played with the stones is absolutely part of our heritage.

WORKING WITH MAX AND THE MB&F TEAM OVER ZOOM 

The collaboration was very, very interesting. It was very easy to work with Max and the MB&F team. We started to make the first sketches during the Zoom meeting. We immediately found the idea very, very beautiful, and we started immediately with the development team to realise the first prototypes and all the details around the case. So it was more or less one year to develop the watch. As you can see, we have the same stones on the two different materials. So, rose gold and white gold with the same rotor that Max uses on his own watch. We change, again, just the design of the lugs and the design of the bezel. 

We had these very, very big stones for a watch. We are the master of coloured gemstones, and the idea was to use, for the first time in a watch, its very thick stones with a different cut design. So as you can see, you have the brilliant cut, emerald cut, cabochon cut, drop-shape cut. This has always been our frustration in other watch designs; to have these amazing large stones that were impossible to use on the dial. Because you know that this is not a common watch design. To have this atrium effect created by the domed glass.

WELCOME TO THE PLEASURE DOME

It’s so rare to have this atmosphere inside the movement. And when I first saw this movement, I said: “Wow, this is the right occasion to use our huge stones around the movement.” So as you can see, the signature of MB&F is this amazing movement. And the signature of Bulgari is the way to combine together the Swiss watchmaking know-how and the Italian design, and the very unique craftsmanship with these stones that are around the vertical tourbillon.

The challenge we faced on our side at Bulgari was in changing the position and the size of the stones, two or three times, because at the beginning, the stones were too big. And one of the biggest challenges for the MB&F development team was the lugs. Because I decided, I don’t want to see the lugs from the top view. The idea was to have the appearance of a UFO from above.

At Bulgari, we love pure shapes. And it’s a very simple shape with this amazing dome and stones. And your tourbillon is the main actor. So, we have to remove all the elements from the case. For Max, it was, “Okay. Wow. The UFO concept is very close to MB&F and if you want to remove the lugs, we’ll find a way to design different lugs.” So after a Zoom meeting, I started to make sketches and I sent them to the development team and they developed these very, very small and ultra-thin lugs.

COULD THERE BE A SEQUEL?

When I saw the watch for the first time I said, “Max, the next one will have to be a carillon. The next one should have a carousel. And the stones have to turn, it looks so perfect, just like the best configuration. 

Max said, “Okay, Fabrizio this is the next challenge for the next three, four years.” Because if we have to start to move a portion of this bridge, it’s going to be a nightmare for us, it’s a brand new movement. But the idea is to have a carousel and a UFO. This UFO is enough for now. But I think the track definitely has the potential to be a big idea. A big challenge, but a big idea.