Q&A: Bulgari's Guido Terreni on Baselworld Offerings
When the Baselworld luxury watch and jewelry fair opens in Basel, Switzerland, on March 22, Guido Terreni, managing director of Bulgari’s watch making division, will almost certainly be caffeinated. “It’s a week when you don’t sleep,” he said. “But I love the adrenaline. That’s when you have your first feedback on your creativity.”Based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, the Milan-born Terreni joined Bulgari in 2000. Nine years later, he assumed his current position, overseeing the brand’s watch making business. “This year, I will be 18 years in Switzerland, so I have become like the brand: Italian and Swiss,” he joked. Under his stewardship, Bulgari, Rome’s most illustrious jeweler, has earned a reputation as a serious watchmaker, not only for its gem-set ladies’ timepieces but also for its elegant and record-setting Octo Finissimo models for men. Here, Terreni gives BLOUIN ARTINFO a sneak peek at what’s coming out in Basel, why thinness is so important to the brand, and what distinguishes them from their predecessors.What will Bulgari unveil at Baselworld?The Serpenti collection will have important introductions connected to the DNA of the brand. We took inspiration from certain details we used to do in the past with tri-colored gold on the Serpenti Turbogas, an interesting piece for ladies. Also, we’re adding to one of the collections we introduced last year with interchangeability of [leather straps]. We are also adding an interchangeable gold chain, which can be used for a night or more formal approach vs. a more everyday approach with the straps. Will we see any mechanical introductions for women? We will widen the assortment of mechanical pieces for ladies with something very fresh and very new. We will introduce a new ladies’ minute repeater using the Finissimo movement — it will be the Divas’ Finissimo, the smallest minute repeater, and we will do it in a feminine case. The Divas’ piece is inspired by the jewelry collection: The triangular iconic element of the design is inspired by mosaics you have in ancient Roman baths that inspired the collection. This shape will be a small charm you will pull to activate the minute repeater at 8 o’clock.On the men’s side, you’ve made the Octo Finissimo timepieces an important part of your assortment for the past few years. Will that continue? Yes, we will continue with the Octo Finissimo series that we started in 2014. It has set three world records so far for thinness, and we will continue counting. We launched two Octo Finissimo references in 2014: one was the thinnest tourbillon in the world, with a 1.95 mm movement and a 5.6 mm case in platinum. And we coupled that with the Octo Finissimo petite seconds (small seconds) in platinum, also a manual wind timepiece, not a world record for movement thinness, but we coupled it with the tourbillon because we wanted to have a high-end approach. Then, in 2016, we launched our second world record, which was the Octo Finissimo minute repeater, the thinnest ever, with 3.12 mm as the height of the movement and the case at 6.85 mm. The first watch we did in sand blasted titanium for a technical reason, because titanium chimes very well. Last year, we repeated the record-setting with the thinnest automatic watch in the world: the Octo Finissimo automatic on a titanium sand blasted bracelet. It won the men’s watch prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie in Geneva.Why is thinness so important to Bulgari?As Italians, we have an eye on watch making, which is dominated by aesthetics. We believe elegance should be enhanced by the timepiece on your wrist. Probably it has something to do with the exaggerations of the first decade of the millennium, when there were so many watches in sizes of almost 60 millimeters, very flashy, unwearable in our eyes. After the Lehman Bros collapse [in 2008], the sizes were reduced but not down to the sizes of the past. Rather, 40 millimeters and 41 millimeters became the range for an elegant watch for men. And the request for being slim sets you apart from the rest. Up until today, haute horlogerie watches were very formal in style, expressions of 1950s-60s aesthetics, always worn with tuxedos in a formal occasion. We wanted to give a gentleman today a contemporary elegance. That’s why we did it in a bracelet style and in a titanium case — it gives men the opportunity to enjoy this luxury feeling every day.Now let’s turn to the movements of your watches. Where is everything made? We do everything in-house. It all began in the year 2000, when we acquired two very small niche brands: Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth. They were managed separately until 2009, when I had the mandate to add them into our business. Before, the brand had been using Girard Perregaux-made movements. Having your own engine is very difficult; it’s an industrial project. In 2013, we came out with our own caliber. And starting in 2014, the Finissimo movements were developed under my governance. The movements are made in Le Sentier, where we do our minute repeaters, tourbillons, and our base caliber, as well as the minute repeater for ladies and the tourbillon for ladies. That’s our haute horlogerie factory. Dial making is in La Chaux-de-Fonds. And we assemble everything in Neuchâtel, where my office is and where we have over 300 people working at the manufacture. But the know-how is spread across the whole valley.Since you joined Bulgari, how would you describe the industry’s evolution?When I joined in the year 2000, it was the beginning of the renaissance of manufacture movements. We were definitely exiting the quartz crisis, which ended in the ’90s. Then the world completely changed. We saw a shift of economic power from the West to the East. The Chinese became the highest spenders. Their tastes were very traditional at the beginning — when they bought their first watch, they usually bought a three-hand watch, white dial, round case. That was a very typical Chinese watch in 2006-07. They used to buy on buses in Europe because it was more convenient. The first thing they showed off was not the watch but the invoice; the most important thing was not what they bought but that it was gold and the price. Now, they are starting to buy their second watch — to show how they are expressing their status and personality. That’s why we are developing very strongly now [in China]. We have unique Italian roots compared to the French roots of the rest of industry. You buy Bulgari to stand out, not to be like somebody else. — This interview appears in the Spring 2018 edition of BlouinShop.