The pre-Basel collection takes inspiration from the past, while staying contemporary.
Horology is very much in Fabrizio Buonamassa’s everyday vocabulary. As the senior director of Bulgari Horologie Design Centre, he is someone who is extremely passionate about watches.
He becomes animated when discussing timepieces, and even carries around design sketches in his briefcase. He is ever ready to take out the drawings, to better illustrate the working process behind each masterpiece.
Last month, Buonamassa was in Bangkok to attend a gala dinner, together with Bulgari’s worldwide managing director Umberto Macchi. The event was held in conjunction with Bulgari’s new Emporium store opening in Bangkok. Emporium is the brand’s second store in Bangkok; the first is at Siam Paragon, which opened in 2006.
When it comes to designing a product, the most important factor for Buonomassa is to stay true to the brand’s DNA and heritage.
“At Bulgari, we find incredible inspiration from our archives, but we need to be contemporary,” says Buonomassa in an interview with the Malaysian media about the brand’s pre-Basel collection.
“When I imagine a product, I imagine all of the elements. At Bulgari, architectural elements are important, and we like to play with clean shapes,” adds Buonomassa.
“For high jewellery timepieces, we work closely with our jewellery side. Because we have jewellery and watch-making, we have all the ingredients we need to marry both sides beautifully.”
Born in Naples in 1971, Buonamassa pursued a degree in industrial design. He started his career in the automotive industry at Fiat Centro Stile.
An active participant in the evolution of the interiors of Fiat Stilo and Alfa Romeo 156, he lectured simultaneously at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Turin in the early years of his working life.
At the end of 2000, Buonamassa sent some sketches to Paolo Bulgari. He was hired almost immediately, stationed at the Bulgari Design Center in Rome. After five years, he left the brand to open his own design studio in Milan in 2006; during this period, he freelanced for Bulgari, Tod’s and Honda motorcycles.
In 2007, Silvio Ursini gave him the opportunity to helm Bulgari’s new Watches Design Centre in Rome.
Where inspiration for Buonamassa is concerned, it can strike anytime, anywhere. “Sometimes, ideas come to us quickly and at other times, it is a slower process,” he explains.
“For instance, I was at Siam Paragon yesterday and one lady with a gold necklace caught my attention. I was so inspired, I immediately started sketching.”
“The challenge in making a beautiful timepiece today is in proportions, materials and elegance – all identifiable at a glance,” muses Buonamassa.
“It’s important to be able to recognise the brand and its look from a distance away when a watch is on the wearer’s wrist. So we have to strike the right balance between sharpness and smoothness, between rigidity and comfort.”
What can Bulgari fans expect from its pre-Basel watch collection? According to Buonamassa, these are the highlights:
This year, Bulgari Bulgari celebrates its 40th anniversary, having crossed four decades while remaining as youthful as ever. Apparently simple, yet so intrinsically modern. Displaying a bezel engraved with the family name and its roots, Bulgari Bulgari has found its way through the years without losing its original purity. More than a collection, it is a veritable institution harbouring emblematic, unchanging values. Decidedly innovative at the time of its introduction, Bulgari Bulgari has remained loyal to its origins despite subtle adjustments, and its clear-cut lines have become its most consistent argument. The original model has evolved, maintaining its fundamental attributes while remaining contemporary. Clothed in its sapphire blue dial and fitted with a steel bracelet or alligator leather strap, Bulgari Bulgari 41mm is as modern as ever, while its new feminine interpretations in 26mm and 31mm diameters feature an alliance between diamonds and steel.
The Octo is nurtured by the same roots. Directly inspired by the octagonal geometrical motifs adorning the inner arches of the Basilica of Maxentius, it proclaims the collection’s inseparable connection with the heart of its heritage. Following its launch in 2012, and after setting a new standard last year with Octo Finissimo (the thinnest tourbillon movement ever made), this model is interpreted in a range of new sizes. Among the new faces set to join the line this year, Octo 38mm also features a sapphire blue dial heralding an upcoming trend and protecting the Solotempo in-house manufactured self-winding movement. The new Octo interpretation comes on a steel bracelet or an alligator leather strap.
While exclusively designed for women, Lucea is driven by the same spirit. Its new line perpetuates the patrimonial and jewellery-inspired values cherished by Bulgari and radiates a sophisticated simplicity that is probably one of the toughest creative exercises. Like all the models forming the pillars of the Bulgari collections, Lucea is evolving in terms of sizes and variations, appearing in a gem-set gold version with an alligator strap, or in white gold with a diamond-set case and bracelet. Lucea displays the full extent of its diversity that the House consistently demonstrates in the field of feminine creativity, all the way through to jewellery watches embodied by the Diva High Jewellery Emeralds watch honoured at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève last October.