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From trend-setting watches and jewelry dripping with Italian confidence to ten record-thin watchmaking creations, today’s Bulgari combines its contemporary design talent with a rich history of uniquely vibrant timepieces. The Bulgari Aluminium made waves with its return in 2020, and since then, it has evolved into a complete collection of attainable, yet unmistakably stylish Bulgari watches — and so, it’s time for a closer look at its past and present.

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Bulgari Aluminium advertising on the side of an Alitalia 747 airliner in 1998.

Flashback: In 1998, Bulgari — a jewelry brand at the top of the pyramid of major luxury stakeholders — presented a collection made from totally unexpected materials. Aluminum and rubber, in a highly graphic combination of black and white, made for the most innovative, modernist-casual watch of the decade that was drawing to a close. By incorporating unconventional materials, Bulgari was a pioneer in reinventing the idea of luxury, propelling it into the future with signature elegance and daring. By today, even the oldest and most conservative watchmakers have embraced the idea of lightweight case materials and rubber straps — but this came around two decades after Bulgari integrated this innovative vision of luxury into everyday wear.

There is something ingenious about the Aluminium’s unexpected juxtapositions — the kind of design choices that show unerring confidence in one’s artistry.

At first glance, the materials feel out of place, and yet, through a certain alchemy, they are reborn, and transformed into luxury pieces through vision and execution. Simple yet striking, the collection approached the watchmaking world with a boldness and strength that felt refreshing and just a touch irreverent.

The Bulgari Aluminium of 1998 (further above), and of today (directly above).

From the side of an Alitalia 747 passenger jet to the wrist of the 1990s jet set, the Bulgari Aluminium was the watch that made light of contextual changes and trends with its disruptive, perpetually contemporary approach. Unisex in its size and design, light and comfortable, and easy to read in its high-contrast presentation, the Bulgari Aluminium was, at once, the essence of a wristwatch and a daring reinterpretation of it.

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If Bulgari’s trademark confidence to make such an initiative was not enough of an indicator, other elements of the Bulgari DNA are also very much present in the Aluminium. The Aluminium watches of 1998 inherited the  “BVLGARI•BVLGARI•” signed bezel from the Diagono that the Italian-Swiss brand introduced a decade earlier, in 1988. Naturally, this essential design trait remains etched into the rubber bezel of today’s Bulgari Aluminium watches — along with the BVLGARI signature in the wide bracelet links close to the case. Some 20 years into the collection, the Aluminium holds strongly onto every element that made the original such a disruptive personality.

Today, the Bulgari Aluminium collection is composed of four core-collection pieces — a duo of time-and-date watches with black or white dials, powered by the self-winding B77 movement (based on the ETA 2892), a chronograph with a self-winding mechanical movement, and a GMT in red and blue, also with a self-winding mechanical movement — along with a selection of limited edition models. All are presented in 40mm-wide cases crafted from an alloy of aluminum engineered and tested to be more durable than that originally used for the collection in the late 1990s. Likewise, the rubber strap is more supple and comfortable than ever, with each link softly swiveling on partially exposed joints, completing the Aluminium-experience that is not limited to aesthetics but extends to the wearing experience. Water resistance for all pieces, including the chronograph, is rated at 100 meters, for ultimate peace of mind. Pricing for these core-collection references is as follows: The three-hand Bulgari Aluminium watches are priced at $3,100, the Bulgari Aluminium GMT is $3,600, and the Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph is $4,600.

As a highly cherished, iconic brand of Italy, Bulgari has unrivaled access to some of the most treasured companies and assets of this incredible nation, connections that have served as the basis of countless shared projects with outstanding results. The remarkable collaboration pieces of the 139-year-old brand — established in Rome in 1884 by the talented Greek silversmith Sotirio Bulgari — have filled multiple coffee table books, and the Aluminium watch collection is here to add its own contributions to such a singular portfolio. In 2022, Bulgari established a collaboration with the Marina Militare’s Amerigo Vespucci, a vessel that has not only trained generations of future highest-ranking Italian officers since 1931 but has also been regarded and indeed used as a floating embassy for Italy, hosting a range of important diplomatic meetings. The perfect match for this vessel comes in the shape of the Aluminium GMT, which sports the ship’s trademark gold and black theme on the front and its motto etched into its caseback — “Non chi cominicia ma quel che persevere” which stands for “Not he who begins, but he who perseveres.” The Aluminium GMT Amerigo Vespucci is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces and is priced at $3,950.

Another iconic brand of Italy is of course Ducati, the famed manufacturer of street and race bikes. The lightweight, high-contrast Aluminium Chronograph served as the frame for the collaboration between Bulgari and Ducati. The fiery red dial features baton hour markers everywhere except at the 10, 11, and 12 positions which are displayed with Arabic numerals, hinting at the so-called redline of Ducati’s highly specified bike engines. The rubber bezel, crown, bracelet, and chronograph pushers, as well as the aluminum core, make for an organic match to some of Italy’s most famous motorbikes. The Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph Ducati is limited to 1,000 pieces and is priced at $5,000.

The third Bulgari Aluminium limited edition to be launched in 2022 is the result of the collaboration between Bulgari and Japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama. Best known for his realistic, hyper-feminized depictions of robots rendered in shiny chrome, Sorayama also has a long history of design work from Sony’s famous AIBO line of robotic luxury toys through partnerships with Marc Ecko, Nike, and Lucasfilm. Bulgari had the artist filter the Aluminium line through his uniquely sensual, prewar sci-fi lens, introducing a mechanically inspired look to the brand’s sporty neo-retro series. A dial decorated with a flashy pattern of perlage, a circular decoration traditionally used to decorate various watch movement parts, dominates the design and yet blends perfectly with the carefully proportioned case, bezel, and dial diameters of the Aluminum. Limited to 1,000 pieces, the price for the Bulgari Aluminium Sorayama limited edition is $3,300.

As in tune with the times then as it is today, the Aluminium is a beautifully made, instantly recognizable, inimitable watch, supported by one of the most powerful and historic names in Italian luxury. And all this is precisely why it could not possibly be anything else but a Bulgari icon. To learn more, visit the brand’s website.

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