Interview with Antoine Pin, Watch Business Unit Managing Director, Bulgari during the LVMH Watch Week

“It’s a matter of pride for us, the pride of doing things differently, the pride of learning and the pride of owning a technical heritage. Our job is to transmit this pride to other people and to inspire them.”

“The motto of our brand involves pushing the limits of what we can do and harmonizing two extraordinary craftsmanship that we are masters of.”

Excerpts from the interview with Antoine Pin, Watch Business Unit Managing Director, Bulgari during the LVMH Watch Week.

Dubai- AWJ Magazine:

“To delicately craft time rather than merely indicate it, to propel it into a dimension where its scope and significance are enhanced by a resolutely artisanal dimension”- Can you please elaborate more on the above statement - directions/philosophy of the brand?

In you have a chance to go through our Facebook channel, you will see plenty of short videos under the name “Crafting time”. It is fundamentally the backbone of resonance both as jewellery and an icon of luxury. Let us go back to the basics. We try to answer these questions. Why do we sell watches today? Why do we sell jewellery? What is behind it? Basically what lies behind is the genius of mankind. In celebration of our genius is the beauty of humanity. You know we offer jewellery and watches, where gifting is most important. Gifting reflects the beauty of feelings, and also the beauty of emotion. It marks the celebration of interpersonal relationships and all these elements are ways to celebrate ourselves as human beings. Let me also tell you about the talents of our creative director Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani. You should see his drawings, listen to those interviews and also hear our watchmakers talking about time. It takes like one year of their lifetime to craft one watch. I love an interview with one of our polishers in particular. When we made those interviews about crafting time, we interviewed and talked with lots of people other than the spokespersons of our company. As this polisher tells, every day is different and it is important to make the metal that we use a living material. Every new shape and every piece like the complex Octo Finissimo watch is a challenge to the capacity to play the gesture of putting the watch against the machine. It’s a matter of pride for us, the pride of doing things differently, the pride of learning and the pride of owning a technical heritage. Our job is to transmit this pride to other people and to inspire them. The product for us is the messenger as well as a statement of this knowhow. I will say this piece we are presenting today is a crime. I call it a crime for a different reason. We put together an extraordinary setting of diamonds, and an extraordinary dial with the most complicated watch. It’s a watch that took one year to be created by one of our master watchmakers. If you want to buy it you will have and collect it from our offices in Switzerland.  We will not bring it to you because we want our master watchmakers to give it to you in person. They don’t give you a product of their toil, they are giving you one year of their life. If you think about it, our master watchmakers start working on genuine watch pieces at an average age of 40. So they work for 20 to 25 years and will be creating probably 30 watches in their entire working life. Every one of those watches is a part of their life and there is a lot more in the product than the product itself. If we do not manage to convey this message we miss something very important. 

During the past years, Bulgari achieved several world records in Ultra-thin watchmaking. Can you explain more on the structure of the Piccolissimo mechanical movement calibre and its importance in developing the new Serpenti secret timepieces collection?

This calibre is quite important for multiple reasons. We are talking about 102 components in 12.5 mm and weighing just 1.3 grams. We talked a lot about Finissimo but fundamentally micro mechanism is more a matter of volume than just one dimension. So we worked on the third dimension. Here in Piccolissimo, we enter a new chapter of this journey through the landscape of micro mechanism and this time we are probably pioneering this dimension. I’m using probably because I’m aware of our competitors trying to challenge the smallest round calibre on the market today in the Swiss market. 

Did you face any challenges in combining the marvel of sound and precious gemstones in your new Octo Roma Emerald Grande Sonnerie? How did you overcome the effect of gemstones on the case of the watch to maintain the highest quality of sound?

It was a daunting challenge. We had to make the best of both worlds meet without any compromise. This is exactly where you must make decisions. On one hand this Octo Roma Tourbillon was clearly designed, particularly the titanium version, to optimize the performance from the sound perspective. We are talking about the fine art of jewellery complementing timekeeping, and it’s the ultimate expression of both the worlds. You remember that the motto of the brand involves pushing the limits of what we can do, and harmonizing two extraordinary craftsmanship that we are masters of. We have achieved true technical performance aimed at delivering the loudest sound with elegance and accuracy. They are precious masterpieces, a watch to be worn and on the other hand a legal size to optimize the mechanical performance. It is an interesting exercise that we did here with a watch where we try improving the realm of our knowhow. It’s in fact a case where you can see our technological superiority showcased,

The new Lvcea Intarsio collection reflected three-dimensional architectural dials crafted by Bulgari. What would this dial’s feature add to the beauty of the watch?

I’m going to show it to you because the video is even better than the picture and probably will express it better than I can with words. But what I can tell you is that for me this watch is one of the most important that we are presenting today. It reveals the art of crafting time at a much more affordable price. As for me there is no limit to creative capability and, believe me we can do crazy stuff, no doubt, and we will prove it to you in the near future. But when we want to present to people this aspect of entering the world of luxury for the younger generation, don’t get me wrong. This is not a cheap watch, but one that probably expresses the beauty of light better than anything else. It’s a watch for the night and day. 

Will Bulgari add another complication twist to the Lvcea collection in the future? 

At this stage we are working more on the jeweller’s craft in the watch. Piccolissimo is based on diverse aspects and you can see it looking at the smallest dimension of the watch. With the same play and bringing an exceptional calibre inside makes it a very interesting composition, although today Piccolissimo calibre is a bit expensive for a watch.

In 2020 we witnessed the successful return of the iconic Bulgari Aluminium. While in 2021 the new GMT complication movement was incorporated. Will this year witness more additions to this popular Bulgari watch?  

No, there will be no new calibre. There will be new interpretation though. We love the aluminium collection because it’s an amazing platform for collaboration to express Italian lifestyle and creativity. It’s an open platform. I’m talking about the Italian purity or Italian roots that is shared in particularly with this watch. This is a happy watch and we look for an inspiring integration reflecting our Italian identity, modernity and technicality in some ways. So there will be some variations and limited editions basically but no change in the calibre. The watch is best when it is focusing on its core identity and we don’t plan too much integration. We just bring a smart collaboration that conveys some interesting messages, otherwise we stick to the absolute icon in terms of the design.

How do you feel about the new genderless trend in the market? 

It’s not my job, neither the job of anyone in Bulgari, to decide who is going to wear our watches. It’s not my job either to tell the studio to bring a watch that is genderless and I would not do that because actually it would be a denial of humanity. Let me be clear; I’m not talking about denying people’s choices in a complex matter like this. What I’m saying is I don’t know how to design a genderless watch. I don’t know what it means. We at Bulgari hate to see any bias in our boutiques. We hate to see somebody deriding anyone coming to our boutique wearing a t-shirt because he or she thinks the person cannot afford to buy a Bulgari item. We hate racism and gender discrimination. I would not go again and follow trends that are not making sense in the wake of what we do. My point is about generosity and humanity. Humanity as Bulgari thinks is making sure that we respect every individual first and generosity in the same aspect. Respect means to us welcoming people the way they are and not judging them.

Sustainability and responsible sourcing are now common practice in our industry. How is Bulgari applying these steps?

I would like to say that Bulgari has been the biggest contributor to “Save the Children” Foundation, and I think we have contributed over 100 million dollars to save children. It is now 12 years that we are partnering with them, so our source engagement goes largely above and beyond. We are not following the trend; we were there before.  I am not saying we are perfect in any way. I’m saying that we have not waited for market intelligence experts or consultants to tell us to be concerned about a problem with social responsibility. We have done it largely on our own. Now there are plenty of initiatives that are blossoming all around and of course it improves the current situation overall. I can give you some facts just to update you on where we stand. We stay somewhere between the initiatives and the current trend and are also part of these people. We realize the gravity of the environmental problem, so we are with the moving trend. 99% of our gold as a watchmaker is recycled, and100 % percent of the gold as a jeweller is recycled. Our jewellery, watches and perfume businesses are now certified ISO 1401, which is the norm. The fact that we are driving our business along sustainability is obvious, by the initiative that ranges from consumables to plastic-free packaging, thus largely contributing to reduce carbon footprint and promote environmental conservation globally. At this stage, we have a dedicated team, people responsible to implement this idea. Where we are standing right now as a watchmaker is on the total commitment to environmental standards. Our initiatives are across a wide spectrum, covering analytics and KPI approach and our concern is not just so much about our own consumption of energy or complex consumables. It also extends across offering Bulgari quality at affordable cost to a wider segment and this is exactly where we are positioned today.