There is no debate about the fact that the heart of watchmaking is in Switzerland. And as such Swiss watch companies are the best known. But there should also be no argument that, given a certain level of quality is reached, other countries – in Europe and beyond – are capable of making watches that are just as good and just as desirable.
There’s a blazing French flamboyance about Parisian born Bell & Ross; a thoroughly German attention to detail in A. Lange & Söhne; an obsession with light and line-work in the pride of Japan, the Grand Seiko. These watches don’t just hold their own when held up to the best the homeland can put forward, they often exceed standards set in terms of design, precision and ongoing innovation.
We recently attended a Bulgari celebration in Tokyo to get a better sense of how Italians do Swiss watches. Beyond knowing that I really like the Octo (a Genta-based evolution with important devils in the detail), I was essentially tableaux rasa – a clean slate ready for stories. There were plenty of those. This trip was the single most Italian thing that has ever happened to Time+Tide. In a couple of days we became very familiar with the by now polished Romanic pillars of design, lifestyle and attitude that proudly support Bulgari’s watches. We also learned that relocating Bulgari’s watchmaking department from Rome to Neuchâtel in Switzerland has led to leaps and bounds (and awards) when it comes to the creativity and technicity of their timepieces.
Along the way we were dunked in espresso (then whiskey, as you will see in our second video) pulled by a crisply ironed Italian tailored shirt cuff to several parties, some scheduled, some not, wheeling past Adrien Brody, a friend and fan of the brand on one night, and then into the Bulgari jewellery exhibition in Tokyo’s National Museum the next, hosted every step of the way by the passionate and articulate Senior Director of Bulgari’s Watches Design Centre, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani.
Ciao and enjoy!