BVLGARI has had a busy few years. Not only has the brand’s Octo Finissimo collection of watches set a number of high-profile records – energizing contemporary ultra-thin watchmaking in the process – but BVLGARI is also the driving force behind Geneva Watch Days, a brand-new watch fair that opened in the Swiss city today. As part of the Geneva showcase, BVLGARI has announced a new collection of sport watches that marks the brand’s return to aluminum, a lightweight material that it helped pioneer as a case metal in the watch industry in the late 1990s.
Three watches make up the new BVLGARI Aluminium lineup, a pair of three-handers with date and one chronograph, and all are now available in the HODINKEE Shop for pre-sale, with delivery intended for late September 2020. All three watches share the same round 40mm case profile made of aluminum paired with a titanium caseback and a rubber bezel and strap, a unique combination of metals and materials that carry over from the original watches, which first launched in 1998. The rubber bezel has the incised, double “BVLGARI” branding that has characterized the look of countless BVLGARI watches since the 1970s. These watches are classic BVLGARI – in every way.
The release of the original watches established BVLGARI as an early innovator in the sport-watch arena, prioritizing materials that emphasized both comfort and wearability – in addition to durability. While the concept of a luxury watch that wasn’t made of a precious metal or steel wasn’t widely accepted in 1998, BVLGARI has always been a trendsetter, and in 2020, you’ll find a number of other well-known brands utilizing aluminum in their case constructions. None of them, however, bring the same authentic touch to the metal as today’s trio of new watches. It’s a different kind of vintage re-issue than you would typically find in the HODINKEE Shop, one that is both resolutely modern and thoroughly BVLGARI.
Aluminum is an underrated metal when it comes to sport-watch design. It’s not just lightweight, it also features impressive durability, especially when combined with other elements to create an ultra-hard alloy. Don’t forget – aluminum alloys are used by everyone, from aerospace engineers to sport car manufacturers, for their one-of-a-kind blend of lightness and resilience. BVLGARI is using exactly that here, a special aluminum alloy that is more resistant to wear.
Aluminum is cool to the touch and light on the wrist, and its execution here is matte and modest. The caseback is made of equally lightweight titanium, and both it and the crown (and pushers for the chronograph) have undergone a DLC treatment on all three watches. The rubber strap integrates directly into the redesigned chassis of the lugs, and two aluminum links are incorporated into both sides of the strap to help the watch better articulate around the wrist. An ardillon buckle made of – what else? – aluminum ensures a comfortable fit.
While the three watches all share a remarkably similar on-the-wrist profile, the dial is where the differences come into consideration. The two three-handers are both highly legible through contrasting hour markers and dial colors – black baton markers on an off-white, warm-grey dial; white baton markers on a black dial. Both of these watches feature a white date window at three o’clock and chunky Arabic numerals at six and 12 o’clock. A pencil-shaped pair of hour and minute hands are topped by a portion of white Super-LumiNova, while the seconds hand is all-white, save for contrasting red tips on its two ends: a syringe-style pointer and an open, circular counterweight. The chronograph option retains visual symmetry with three sub-dials, each with radial numerals that complement the surrounding, recessed BVLGARI verbiage on the sloping rubber bezel. The chronograph has the same off-white dial tone with black accents (sub-dials, hands, and hour markers/numerals) as the three-hander, while a date aperture is tucked cleanly at the 4:30 position.
Another difference between the ’90s aluminum models and today’s releases are the movements inside. Where the examples from two decades ago were powered by quartz calibers, the new Aluminium models are powered by automatic movements. The three-handers utilize the BVLGARI B77, while the chronograph calls on the B130 – both are BVLGARI-branded ETA calibers, which ensure the reliable and robust performance you’d expect of a sport watch.
BVLGARI’s ascent as a dynamic force in watchmaking has been decades in the works, and these new Aluminium watches place a spotlight on one of the brand’s most memorable past innovations. They offer modern wearability and intricate detailing, in addition to a unisex look that is immediately recognizable as part of BVLGARI’s individual visual language. The BVLGARI Aluminium collection are sport watches built for right now – they’re lightweight and comfortable on the wrist, but durable enough to withstand daily wear around the house and beyond. They also represent an excellent value for a BVLGARI watch, with the Aluminium Automatics each priced under $ 3,000, at $ 2,950 each, and the Aluminium Chronograph at $ 4,250. You can learn more about the new BVLGARI Aluminium collection right now in the HODINKEE Shop.