As one of the most influential artists of the 1980s, Japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama is best known for his realistic, hyper-feminized depictions of robots rendered in a gleaming chrome, Buck Rogers-esque Streamline Moderne style. Outside of his illustrated work, however, Sorayama has a long history of design work, partnering with Sony on the famous AIBO line of robotic luxury toy dogs, and collaborating with brands ranging from Marc Ecko and Nike to Lucasfilm. Bulgari is the latest marque to partner with the Japanese artist, filtering the fan-favorite Aluminium line through Sorayama’s uniquely sensual, prewar sci-fi lens. The new limited-production Bulgari Aluminium Sorayama Special Edition brings a handsomely streamlined, mechanically inspired new look to the brand’s sporty neo-retro series.
By and large, the 40mm-wide aluminum and rubber case of the Bulgari Aluminium Sorayama Special Edition is carried over from its regular production stablemates. The line’s unique attached cylindrical lug assembly is fully intact here, as are the tightly packaged brushed aluminum case sides and diminutive squared crown guards. The pillbox crown itself returns to its usual matte black DLC titanium style after a brief hiatus for the recent Aluminium GMT, with a style that visually ties it effectively to the broad engraved rubberized bezel in images. Bulgari fits this familiar case form with a black DLC-coated titanium caseback, featuring a broad engraved rendition of Sorayama’s futuristic rounded logo. As with the standard Aluminium, this new model offers a respectable 100 meters of water resistance.
The Bulgari Aluminium Sorayama Special Edition’s dial is by far its standout feature and offers one of the most striking styles in the series to date. The entire dial surface is rendered in bare metal perlage, leading to a dazzling look in images that Sorayama claims is meant to evoke the similarly engine-turned fuselage of the Spirit of St. Louis airplane used by Charles Lindbergh to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. This dynamic and detailed surface contrasts sharply with the polished applied indices and matching pointed baton handset but should lead to a highly reflective look on the wrist that may cause legibility hiccups at certain angles. At 2 o’clock, Bulgari replaces the long rectangular applied index with an oversized applied Arabic numeral. This asymmetrical addition has become something of a recurring theme in the Aluminium line, with unique mismatched Arabic numerals also appearing on the recent Aluminium Chronograph Ducati Special Edition, and here this love-it-or-hate-it accent is a nod to Sorayama’s lucky number, two. Sorayama branding is also laser-engraved into the dial surface at 6 o’clock, adding even more visual depth to the design in images. With an already asymmetrical layout, though, the cutout date window at 3 o’clock does come off as somewhat unbalanced in initial photos.
Bulgari powers the Aluminium Sorayama Special Edition with the in-house BVL 191 automatic movement. Interestingly, while previous three-hand iterations of the Aluminium line have opted for the ETA-based B77, Bulgari claims this new model uses the more upscale BVL 191, although both movements offer identical performance with 42-hour power reserves at 28,800 bph beat rates. Bulgari pairs the Aluminium Sorayama Special Edition with the Aluminium line’s signature hybrid semi-integrated aluminum bracelet/rubber strap. This offbeat, multi-material strap pairing has been an Aluminium series hallmark since the line’s initial introduction in 1998, and its signed links help to give the Aluminium its instantly recognizable profile in photos.
With a streamlined, retro-futuristic dial treatment paired with one of the brand’s most distinctive silhouettes, the limited-run Bulgari Aluminium Sorayama Special Edition offers one of the most dramatic and eye-catching iterations of the series to date. Only 1,000 examples of the Bulgari Aluminium Sorayama Special Edition will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for this model was not available as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.