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Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

I recently visited Buccellati in Milan, Italy and shared my experience inside the Buccellati jewelry manufacture here on Forbes. So for aBlogtoWatch, I’d like to focus more on Buccellati watches versus their jewelry and silver goods. If you aren’t familiar with Buccellati yet, that is okay. They aren’t as well known outside of Italy as many of the French jewelry brands are known outside of France. Buccellati as a formal company has been around since 1919 in Milan, and since then has developed into what many refer to as “the Van Cleef & Arpels of Italy.”

That is saying a lot for a country so well known for design and jewelry. I am not as well versed in jewelry as I am in watches, but asking around, people seem to agree that the king of Italian Jewelry is Buccellati. The company is currently known for producing three major types of products, and those include silverware and table-top items in silver, jewelry, and timepieces. This latter segment is the newest arm of Buccellati and according to the brand they have been focusing a lot more on timepieces since the year 2000, even though there are some more historical Buccellati timepieces around.

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

One of the things I find so interesting about Buccellati is that, according to them, 70% of their income is derived from completely one-of-a-kind creations. Even if unique items of jewelry don’t account for 70% of their total production, it shows you how important their relationship is with clients looking for exclusive items. I am not a huge fan of minimalist jewelry design, and prefer traditional pieces with a lot of “artistic density.” For more on that topic you can reference my interview with Pascal Raffy of Bovet.

Buccellati jewelry is actually all designed by Mr. Andrea Buccellati and his daughter Lucrezia. This means that all the jewelry comes from a single source, which allows the brand to have a more authentic, and less commercial character. Yes, it is true that there are general production Buccellati items, but what you should also know is that all Buccellati pieces of jewelry, whether they are one-of-a-kind or part of a collection, are hand-made.

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

How does this translate to their watches? That is a good question. Buccellati has four manufacturing facilities in Milan, Bologna, Como, and outside of Italy, there is a location in Chiasso, Switzerland. Of course, this latter place is where Buccellati watches are made. Even though Buccellati watches do not contain in-house movements, they are produced by Buccellati themselves.

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Buccellati is very strong in the area of women’s watches. There is a more direct design synergy between women’s jewelry and watches than there is with men’s watches. The men’s Buccellati watches are part of collections, while the women’s watches seem to combine both one-of-a-kind creations with collection models. Most of the men’s watches come from a place with a good concept, but the company is aware that further refinements are needed to have them appeal to a more sophisticated watch audience.

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

Earlier this year, Buccellati hired Patrick Normand as their new Commercial Director, who came from a background working with a range of major Swiss and French watch and jewelry brands. The goal is to expand the appeal of the company outside of its traditional bases, while improving in needed areas. Buccellati should be applauded for knowing what they are good at, but also focusing in improving where possible. Normand explains that Buccellati is only now developing their own internal “watch culture.” Something that will develop and improve their men’s watches.

With that said, Buccellati is a remarkably discreet brand coming from Italy. You don’t often see their ads, and there has been zero marketing of Buccellati watches to the larger watch press. Consider my look to be a relatively early glimpse into what more people should begin to see as Buccellati continues to leverage their strength as jewelry watch makers, but also improve their more mainstream and men’s watch collections.

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

The jewelry watches are gorgeous and employ the rich Italian design heritage that Buccellati draws from. Perhaps their most iconic women’s watch is built on the Buccellati cuff which they call the Buccellati Cleopatra watch, and it comes in both normal and miniature size (thinner cuff) versions. Produced from gold, the Cleopatra cuffs have a hidden joint that allows for the cuff to be put on and taken off. These cuffs are available without watch faces of course, so in a sense, these are a true evolution of their pure jewelry pieces.

Buccellati is known for a special form of gold engraving that they call “Rigato.” This technique is designed to make the surface of gold look like silk fabric. It almost looks like a deep brushed finishing, but rather then done with a tool is completely hand-engraved using a special tool. Buccellati’s signature cuffs have developed into a range of watches, often decorated with additional engraving and diamonds. It is unique to find high-end jewelry watches that are part of cuffs, actually.

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

Buccellati produces both mechanical and quartz watches for both men and women. The men’s watches are all in 18k gold (various colors), and represent some interesting design elements that I look forward to the brand expanding on. One of the mechanical cushion-shaped watches has a sapphire crystal with a triangular facet-cut, while many of the men’s “Androchron” collection watches have pillow-style case sides meant to suggest the decorative aesthetic of the overall brand. Another collection of men’s watches also designated by the case design are the Audarchron collection, with a bezel and case-side that look more like twisted rope. Buccellati men’s watches range in size from about 38mm wide to 43mm wide at this time.

The men’s watches no doubt have many areas where they can be improved. Ironically, at prices starting at about 15,000 Euros they are among the more affordable “wearable” items offered by the brand. As far as I know, only gold and sometimes platinum are used for Buccellati watches; there are no steel or titanium timepieces currently available from the brand. Buccellati is aware of the improvements that need to be made, which mostly come down to refinement. These includes issues such as dial design, hand length, case finishing, and overall designs that fit more into the general world of Buccellati.

Buccellati Watches Hands-On In Milan Hands-On

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  • minip If we’ve sold out to Buccellati I certainly haven’t been paid yet. I think they make some amazing women’s jewelry watches but of course anyone is free to apply their own opinions.

  • gadgety

    minip In what way are they garbage? Because some of them use quartz movements? Because they’re not a manufacture, but make jewellery? Because they have no provenance in watch making? Because they use poor or inferior materials? Poor workmanship? Poor design? What?

  • No photos of the gold iPhone case? Or mention of their one-off watch design offering?
    With their history and jewelry offerings you might expect their people to be stuffy and rigid. But not true – they are open and passionate and excited about their future watches. We met them late in the day at BaselWorld when you expect everyone to be ‘out of gas’, but they were both gracious and energetic hosts as we all got to talking detailed watch design stuff and had to let let out the side entrance as their booth had closed by the time we were done chatting with them.

  • Aytunc

    While these watches are definitely not for me, I understand the clientele (have bunch of really wealthy family friends back home) looking for something like this. And i don’t understand the hate in the comments, there are all kinds of watches and there are all kinds of tastes. I rather see the 1% making conscious choice of a taste (however distasteful might seem to another) than just buy whatever is the most expensive. Bespoke products have been around for ages and hopefully will continue to give ideas and inspiration to designers in the future.

  • minip

  • I always enjoy seeing advancements of any kind in the world of nice women’s watches. It is encouraging for the industry that a brand would tackle them in such a dedicated fashion, and also that there is a market for them. Sometimes it seems like mostly a boy’s club, which is a shame.

  • Zeitblom

    minip Nonsense. Go away please.

  • Ulysses31

    I can appreciate well-designed women’s watches as I think in essence what makes a watch “good” is a set of features common to designs for either gender.  It’s the watches that try to focus overtly on one gender or another that tend to fail.  Then there’s the stereotypical crap that is rather obviously aimed at what is believed to be the exclusive domain of women (flower shapes, thousands of gems etc).  Those sorts of designs seem just a bit patronising.  There is a mix here, it seems.  There are some really nice pieces here and a clear love of detailing and craftsmanship.  The golden cuff in particular strikes me as a design that is elegant and sophisticated with the flush fitting watch dial and the hidden clasp.  The engraved leaf motifs in some of their work are beautifully detailed and realistic.  The somewhat organic design inspiration makes me think of Fabergé eggs.  Off-topic, I wonder if we’ll see Fabergé watches reviewed here?

  • DangerussArt

    My wife buys award gifts for a large company that is very woman centric. As such I see loads and loads of inexpensive costume jewels and cheap, overly “gem” encrusted watches. While these are the “real-deal” if you stuck these in the pile or in a catalog page, I’d be hard pressed to differentiate between these and a $15 example of the same style.  I’m obviously jaded but after seeing so much of it, these get unfortunately grouped in the cheap looking category in my eye.
    The quintessential tiny MOP dial and diminutive hands in a sea of stones is a staple of the costume watch arena.

  • RyanOuld

    Anyone with an ounce of taste cannot like these pieces, I’m sorry but they are just plain horrible!

  • CG

    The Art of the Jeweler combined with the Art of the Watchmaker… some of the great names in jewelry making have always incorporated great watchmakers. A time honored tradition and to appeal to the lovely feminine form. Extravagant …yes. Bet you’ve never seen a Harry Winston diamond broche/watch. The fine jewelers use only the best diamonds that you can see across the room! Their art is truly unique and quite beautiful.

  • I think it’s a matter of perspective. If you come at it thinking, “what have they done to a watch?” (by adding jewels) vice “what have they done to jewelry?” (by adding the time). I see their watches as jewelry first and watch aspect clearly secondary.
    I don’t have the money to buy one of their ladies watches for my wife or daughter and the mens watches shown in this post are not to my taste. But I’m glad they are making them.
    And what was interesting (to me anyway) at our meeting at BaselWorld 2014 was their new service where they work closely with a custom to create a completely one-off watch. They even deliver the tooling used to created the case to the customer along with the watch. We are not talking about just printing the customer’s name on the dial or deciding which gems to encrust on a bezel. This is a unique case, dial and hands watch. Totally bespoke. They would hook up the customer with a designer and work through the design process and refine the desired  watch using CAD modeling. That combined with their expertise in precious metal working means that they can actually pull off making a watch that is unique and well finished. I’m not sure how large the market for this is, but I applaud them for launching this service.

  • RoboWatch

    aBlogtoWatch minip Haha looks like the fan club has arrived… I don’t think you can really deny it, these are indeed some ugly watches. But I don’t think it’s fair for aBlogtowatch to turn down sponsors because at the end of the day they need to generate revenue somehow.

  • RoboWatch aBlogtoWatch minip You see any Buccllati ads here? That’s the answer to your conspiracy theory.

  • timezone4life

    RoboWatch aBlogtoWatch minip

    It’s only because Ariel Adams pissed off the whole TZ forum.

  • timezone4life RoboWatch aBlogtoWatch minip Let’s be fair. It was only half of the Timezone forum. Met some really good TZers over the years as well. Some excellent people there.

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