The Minimalist, 1970s Bulgari Bulgari Makes a Comeback

In a wearable 38 mm case.

Bulgari updates its signature Bulgari Bulgari wristwatch by reverting to the original format (almost). Debuted in 1977 as the brand’s first wristwatch, the model was designed by Gerald Genta, who conceived a flat bezel engraved with the brand name, reputedly inspired by ancient Roman coins. Though the model has remained in the collection size in a variety of styles, the latest version returns to the simplicity of the original, with a minimalist dial and compact, 38 mm case available only in either 18k yellow or rose gold for now.

Initial thoughts

The Bulgari Bulgari remains the Italian jeweller’s quintessential wristwatch, remaining recognisable despite having evolved into a multitude of iterations over the years. The appeal of the design is its distinctive style despite the simplicity, something that the latest version returns to.

The new Bulgari Bulgari has a minimalist dial featuring a date at three (which purists might frown at), and rendered more wearable with a diameter of 38 mm. This scaled-down case no doubt reflects a trend found across other brands, many of which are moving towards cases in the range of 35 mm to 39 mm, often in a vintage-inspired style.

Whilst the new case size is almost ideal, the date window gets in the way of the minimalist design. At the same time, an upgraded movement would have made it more appeal. While in-house, the long-in-tooth BVL 191 has a disappointingly short power reserve of 42 hours, as opposed to the norm of three days for newer calibres.

The new Bulgari Bulgari is available in either 18k yellow or rose gold, explaining the price tag of US$13,200, which is the ballpark for a solid-gold watch with no complications.

The price is US$8,000 more than the standard steel model with the same movement. However, it is almost a certainly that a steel model will come along at some point in time, so if you’re not set on a precious metal case, then waiting makes sense.

The Bulgari Bulgari of 1977 (left), and its predecessor, the digital Bulgari Roma of 1975 (right). Image – Bulgari

Scaled down and pared back

The latest rendition of the Bulgari Bulgari adds to a family of watches conceived by Genta as the successor to the digital Bulgari Roma of 1975. The line-up was facelifted in 2014 with a sleeker bezel, streamlined lugs, and the in-house BVL 191, at the same time gaining a large, 41 mm model

The new releases, however, reverse the past facelifts and return to the original styling for the most part. The new dial utilises the same design elements as the original, namely the baton hour indices as well as the Arabic numerals at six and 12, along with the addition of the date window and centre seconds.

Two configurations are available for now. The 18k yellow gold model mirrors the original of 1977 with a black dial featuring yellow gold indices and numerals. On the other hand, the rose gold version has a silver-opaline dial contrasted by rose gold indices and numerals.

The 38 mm case certainly fits the cleaner style better than the 41 mm case. And the new case is also 3 mm thinner than its larger counterpart.

The movement, however, remains the BVL 191, an automatic calibre that was the brand’s first attempt at an in-house calibre. It’s now used widely across the Bulgari catalogue, including in the Octo Roma. It has a 42 hour power reserve and operates at a high frequency of 4 Hz.

Key facts and price

Bulgari Bulgari 38 mm
Ref. 103967 (yellow gold)
Ref. 103968 (rose gold)

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: 18k yellow or rose gold
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: BVL 191
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Leather strap with pin buckle

Limited edition: No
Availability: At Bulgari boutiques and retailers starting in February 2024
Price: US$13,200

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