Fake watches: From Finissimo to Piccolissimo: With its recently gained experience in ultra-thin calibers, the Romana brand is inserting miniaturized mechanics (1.30 grams!) back into the heads of its secret Serpenti watches, replacing the quartz calibers used until now. This decisive step establishes Serpenti’s preeminent position in the Bulgari pantheon. Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, the creative director of watchmaking for the brand, shares this epic story with us.
Human beings have always been inspired by nature, so we have a natural tendency to attribute a biological morphology to the different parts of a watch. For example, we describe the link between the case and the bracelet as “horns”, the dial as the “face” and the hands as the “hands”.
Since the 1950s, Bulgari has striven to take this biomimicry to its logical conclusion with the Serpenti. If the head and glowing eyes aren’t enough to cast a spell on the wearer, the watch’s bracelet wraps around the wrist like a cold snake’s embrace.
In 2022, after decades of animatronics, Serpenti will finally return to a mechanical movement, miniaturized through advanced engineering. In the wild, the snake has a remarkable ability to adapt its body temperature to environmental conditions. After half a century, this reptilian analogy in watchmaking form once again enjoys the warmth of a mechanical movement, just like it used to. The intimate dance between animal and human can resume once again.
In 2022, after decades of animatronics, Serpenti will finally return to a mechanical movement, miniaturized through advanced engineering.
Bulgari embodies the extreme miniaturization of the 102 components of the Calibre BV100 in its barrel, with an overall diameter of just 5 mm, a thickness of 1.47 mm, and a spring 170 mm long before winding.
From Finissimo to Piccolissimo
To create the caliber BVL100 (the first of the new Piccolissimo series of movements, which means “very small” in Italian) with its diameter of 12.30 mm and depth of 2.50 mm, Bulgari engineers drew on the experience they have gained in recent years, working on the ultra-flat Octo Finissimo series, which has broken several records. The new micro movement weighs only 1.30 grams, and the designers house it in a special cavity in the reptile’s head.
“When I came to Bulgari in the early 2000s, the Serpenti line had only about twenty references, most of them high jewellery. But its past was glorious: many brands had taken over the snake motif, but only Bulgari really made it distinctive, an icon of luxury. This collection made the fortune of the brand. It needed a new lease of life, so we finally decided to put the snake back at the center of the brand”, says Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani.
“This collection made the fortune of the brand. It needed a new lease on life, so we finally decided to put the snake back at the center of the brand.”
Before joining the Romana brand, the Napolitano designer worked for Fiat in Turin. One day he decided to send his sketches to Paolo Bulgari, then CEO of the brand, who was still familiar. They hit it off because of their shared passion for cars. Today, as head of the brand’s watch design center in Neuchâtel, he is responsible for reconciling the Italianità of the Bulgari aesthetic with cutting-edge watch engineering, of which the Piccolissimo movement is a shining example.
The Serpenti Misteriosi, designed by Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani. A press on the tongue reveals the watch, below the snake’s head. A bidirectional crown at the bottom of the case allows the watch to be wound manually and the time to be set.
A new field of possibilities
“The design of this new caliber opens up great prospects not only for the Serpenti but for all of our women’s lines,” says Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani. “It is a strategic project, consistent with our manufacturing. Mechanical calibers should not be reserved for more masculine fake watches cheap.”
One of the four versions of the new Serpenti Misteriosi equipped with the Piccolissimo mechanical movement, one of the smallest in the world, entirely designed and produced at the Bulgari Manufacture in Le Sentier.
The caliber BVL100 closes a 50-year 100% electronic hiatus for the Serpenti. It revives the concept of the tiny mechanical motor present in all women’s fake watches until the early 1970s. Initially, since Bulgari did not have its own manufacturer, Bulgari could only equip the Serpenti with micro movements from a number of different movement manufacturers. With the advent of quartz, the industry stopped producing mechanical calibers of this size.
Until the early 1970s, Bulgari equipped Serpenti watches with miniature movements from different movement manufacturers. With the advent of quartz, the industry stopped producing mechanical calibers of this size.
With a diameter of 12.30 mm and a thickness of 2.50 mm, the BVL100 movement indicates the hours and minutes, and the watchmaker installed it in a dedicated cavity in the snake head.
The four new Serpenti Misteriosi secret watches also inaugurate a new production process. Until now, the body of the Serpenti came from Bulgari’s Italian workshops, while the head, which houses the caliber,
was produced in its Swiss workshops. “Now the caliber can be completely separated from the head:
this means that the entire snake can be made in Italy,
while our Swiss workshops are dedicated solely to the movement. This alleviates the challenge of ensuring components align correctly,” explains Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani.
The caliber and case of the High replica watch are now manufactured completely independently,
resulting in a better distribution of expertise between Bulgari’s Italian and Swiss workshops.
In the designer’s pursuit of “mechanical aesthetics,” even the tongue is functional. Instead of being purely decorative, as it was in the past,
it conceals a mechanism for opening the snake’s head to reveal the secret clock.
Revisiting the original codes
In this return to the roots of the Serpenti, the new models naturally revisit the original design from the 1950s. With some nuances: “We have redesigned the Serpenti with slightly different proportions. Back then, the head and body of the snake were very long. Today, the head is smaller and thinner.”
“Back then, the snake’s head and body were very long. Today, the head is smaller and thinner.”
The new models continue the legacy of early Serpenti fake watches –
in particular the model created for Elizabeth Taylor when she played Cleopatra at Rome’s Cinecittà studios in 1962.
Advertising campaign for L Serpenti, from 1975. Since the designer redesigned the model in 2009, it has seen many changes.
These new models mark the culmination of the redesign of the Serpenti line that began in the 2000s,
and which saw the successive appearance of the Serpenti Scaglie,
Serpenti Tubogas, Serpenti Spiga and more recently the Serpenti Seduttori models. In addition to high-jewelry secret watches, there are now much simpler models suitable for everyday use. The snake has now extended its reach to all of Bulgari’s watchmaking price ranges.
Compared to the mechanical calibers of the 1950s (some of which were even smaller, hard to imagine though!),
the new Piccolissimo movement offers the advantage of a much larger power reserve, in the order of 30 hours.
Bulgari fake has used all the experience gained in the development of Finissimo fake watches to create an ultra-compact movement that weighs just 1.30 grams.
“It took us almost two years until we managed to produce the first prototypes of the movement in early 2020,”
says Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani. “The success of our workshops will open up new ways to design jewelry watches. In the future you will see models of women totally different from
what we have been able to do up to now. This is just the beginning.”