Bulgari Drops the Glow-in-the-Dark Aluminium Collab with DJ Steve Aoki

Subtle fun.

Bulgari has teamed up with Steve Aoki to create the Aluminum Steve Aoki, a funky version of its aluminium-and-rubber watch. Launched in 1998 and then revived last year, the Aluminum is an entry-level, lightweight sports watch that’s been given a subtle but fun twist with the “O” from the American DJ’s signature incorporated into the dial.

Born in California – his father founded the popular Japanese restaurant chain Benihana – Steve Aoki is one of the world’s most successful DJs, having collaborated with various musicians from Maluma to BTS. A fixture in the “Top 100” rankings by industry publication DJ Magazine, Mr Aoki also has his own streetwear line, making this collaboration with the Roman jeweller a natural evolution.

Initial thoughts

A hit upon its revival last year, the Aluminium is cheerful and affordable, while having an easily recognisable Bulgari design. Its design is strong enough that I find it to be one of the most fascinating watches in its price segment, despite the generic movement. The only downside of the Aluminium is the softness of the metal, which means the watch case will show wear more quickly than a steel watch. And careless wear will result in a case that looks very worn.

The Aluminum gets better with Steve Aoki collaboration. The DJ’s emblem on the dial is modern, bold, and a perfect match for the spirit of watch. But it’s also discreet – hardly visible during the day at arm’s length – preserving the classic design.

Notably, Bulgari’s collaborative editions are often tasteful – the Octo Finissimo designed by architect Tadao Ando being an obvious example – resulting in unusual but appealing designs with discreet details.

But unlike the Octo, the Aluminum is one of Bulgari’s most affordable products, resulting in a collaboration that’s playful and accessible to most, not only because of its affordability, but also because it’s a “special” rather than limited edition.

Nighttime special

The collaborative elements are subtly incorporated into the watch – just Steve Aoki’s signature on the case back and dial – without changing the original Aluminium design that’s simple but effective.

As with Mr Aoki’s profession, the action starts at night. The entire dial, save for the hands and indices, has been painted in Super-Luminova, creating a glowing face reminiscent of backlit digital watches from the 1990s.

And the rest of the watch is stock Aluminum, which means the robust ETA 2892 inside, as well as a useful 100 m water resistance. Notably, the watch is featherlight, with its case in aluminium and bezel in rubber, while the bracelet is a mix of the two materials – rubber links with aluminium hinges.

Key facts and price 

Bulgari Aluminium Steve Aoki
Ref. 103539

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Aluminium
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: B77 (ETA 2892)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Rubber link bracelet

Limited edition: Total quantity unavailable
Availability: Only at Bulgari online store and boutiques
Price: US$3,050; or 4,260 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Bulgari.com.


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G-Shock Unveils Full Metal “Rainbow” in TranTixxii Titanium

A good kind of crazy.

Oblong in shape and entirely resin, the original G-Shock has evolved in recent years into something altogether more fancy, while retaining the signature 5000-series design. While the traditional resin models remain in the line up, the Full Metal collection has rapidly grown to include models in steel, titanium, as well as in ridiculous-but-cool 18k yellow gold.

Taking things to the next level is the G-Shock Full Metal GMW-B5000TR. Made of a newly-developed titanium alloy that’s twice as hard as pure titanium, the latest Full Metal model has an unapologetically bold  “rainbow” bracelet with links in four different colours.

Initial thoughts

I was shocked when I first saw the multicolour bracelet – it seemed too much. But I let it sit for a day, and the look started to grow on me. The Full Metal “Rainbow” is a G-Shock that truly caters to the enthusiasts, because it is so different and so unexpected, yet executed to a high standard – attributes that mark it out as a serious G-Shock for the collector who is willing to pay a premium for such things.

Echoing the bracelet, the digital display is also multicolour

The foundations of the watch are strong. Now almost 40 years old, the design remains durable – the square case is the iconic G-Shock – and looks as good as it did in 1983 when the DW-5000 made its debut. Rendering the design in rainbow colours and a new titanium alloy only adds to the appeal.

That said, this is the latest of many, many Full Metal models. Iterations of the 5000-series have proliferated rapidly since the launch of the first Full Metal in 2018. The Full Metal in steel, for instance, is now available in an assortment of finishes – natural steel, yellow gold, pink gold, burgundy, blue, black, and even a grid pattern. And the top of the line Full Metal in titanium is similarly available in several colours.

Despite some versions being limited or special editions, there are so many of them that the all-metal construction has lost some of its appeal, especially combined with the high price. And the Full Metal “Rainbow” is expensive at US$1,700. That’s almost three times the price of the Full Metal models in steel, but the same as the earlier Full Metal models in titanium.

Still, the Full Metal “Rainbow” is both original and entertaining, on top of being an exceptionally robust watch that is an iconic design. That’s quite a feat, especially at this price point, which is a lot for a G-Shock, but not so much as watches go.

Colourful titanium

The latest Full Metal essentially combines all the colours offered in the line in a single watch – the bracelet links are ion plated in blue, grey, gold, and red, while the case is entirely gold plated. The colours are to showcase a new titanium alloy, Super-TIX 20AFG, which was developed by Nippon Steel in collaboration with Casio.

Super-TIX 20AFG is part of the TranTixxii family of titanium alloys developed by the Japanese steelmaking giant that can be plated in colours that are immensely durable. According to Nippon Steel, the colours of TranTixxii alloys are resistant to acid rain, ultraviolet light, and seawater corrosion, making them ideal for automobiles and buildings.

According to Casio, Super-TIX 20AFG required six years of research and development in order to create a titanium alloy with a hardness comparable to steel as well as excellent radio-reception properties given the functions of the G-Shock.

The result is a lightweight alloy that is twice as hard as pure titanium, allowing for surface finishing comparable to that of steel, which is illustrated by the mirror-polished finish on the entire watch. In fact, the Full Metal “Rainbow” is the first titanium G-Shock with a mirror-polished finish.

Besides the radio-wave connectivity that sets the time six times a day (but only in Japan, China, USA and Germany), the Full Metal “Rainbow” is equipped with everything else that is now standard on most G-Shock watches. That includes Bluetooth connectivity that allows pairing with a smartphone for easy time synchronisation, as well as the usual suite of digital functions like alarm, stopwatch, and multi time zones.

Key facts and price

G-Shock Full Metal Titanium
Ref. GMW-B5000TR

Diameter: 49.3 mm by 43.2 mm
Height: 13 mm
Material: Titanium with IP coating
Water resistance: 200 m

Functions: Digital, multifunction, Bluetooth connectivity
Winding: Solar
Power reserve: 22 months with power-saving function on

Strap: Titanium bracelet

Limited edition: No
 Starting May 2021 at G-Shock stores and retailers
Price: US$1,700, or 2,199 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Gshock.com.


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