The 2020 Bvlgari Aluminium Watch – The Return of an Icon (Hands-On)
Bvlgari revisits its Aluminium watch, a provocative take on the sports watch with contemporary materials and winning Italian design.
Today Bvlgari is unveiling its new models during Geneva Watch Days, an event uniting several leading watch brands (16) and the only significant gathering for the Swiss watch community in 2020 that has not been cancelled due to the pandemic. Among the novelties is the 2020 Bvlgari Aluminium Watch collection, a contemporary sports watch with its unmistakable Bvlgari seal. Back in black and white in a time-and-date format and a chronograph, the Aluminium looks as provocative as it did in 1998. Fitted with simple movements to keep prices down, the 2020 Bvlgari Aluminium Watch will be one of the brand’s (coolest) entry-level models.
All roads lead to Rome
With the impressive amount of world firsts for ultra-thin watches secured in the last six years and the latest record-breaking Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph, Bvlgari is unquestionably one of the most innovative and exciting watchmakers on the scene today. And when we say exciting, we are not only referring to the brand’s watchmaking prowess in the field of lean machines embodied by its Octo collection, but to its inimitable Italian style. Bvlgari’s watchmaking empire is expanding by the day, cemented with a captivating mix of Imperial Roman elements, Swiss mechanics and Italian design flair.
Although women’s jewellery watches had been part of the Bvlgari’s portfolio since 1918, the first gent’s watch to be produced on an industrial scale was the 1977 Bvlgari Bvlgari. A relatively simple time-and-date model, the standout feature of this watch was its gold bezel emblazoned with the brand name (not once, but twice), just like coins issued by Roman emperors with their portraits in the centre and their names on the periphery. A brazen bet, the incorporation of the brand name as a design element proved to be a massive hit. Following in its wake, the Roman jeweller introduced the sporty Diagono chronograph in 1988, still emblazoned with the Bvlgari Bvlgari engraving on the dial. The reason we mention these two models is because ten years later, the Aluminium Watch was released combining elements from both the Bvlgari Bvlgari (engraved bezel) and from the Diagono (chronograph).
The big novelty of the Bvlgari Bvlgari Aluminium was the use of aluminium and rubber, materials not usually associated with luxury watches. Its combination of black rubber and lightweight aluminium resulted in an attractive, eye-catching sports watch with an unmistakable Italian soul. Part of the marketing campaign for the Bvlgari Aluminio included decking out an Alitalia Boeing 747 with an image of the watch literally strapped around the upper deck of the first-class cabin area. Originally presented in three sizes to cater to both sexes, and with a choice of automatic and quartz movements, the Aluminium is back in 2020 with automatic movements and an increased water-resistance from 30m of the original to 100 metres. The good news for fans of the Aluminium is that it is back in 2020 with a few design upgrades and all the stylish sportiness of its predecessor.
Aluminium Time-and-Date 103382 and 103445
Two models, one with a white (creamy off-white to be more precise) and a black dial join the ranks of the new Bvlgari Aluminium line-up. The 40mm case is made from aluminium and has a titanium DLC-treated caseback and crown keeping the weight down to a minimum. Viewed from the side, you can appreciate the matte, dull sheen of the aluminium very much in tune with the sporty character of the watch.
The thick, inclined bezel with the double Bvlgari inscription is made from black rubber, a material that is also used on the integrated strap with its central aluminium links and buckle. A prominent bezel like this could potentially overwhelm the elements on the dial. To counter its imposing presence, the elements on the dial are beefed up; the Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock are large and densely painted as are the pronounced black hour markers. Luminescent material is applied on the tips of the hour and minute hands and at the tip of every hour marker. The central seconds hand retains its red circular counterbalance and red tip and even the date window has kept its original location at 3 o’clock. Tricky to describe, the dial is referred to as warm grey by the brand but I see it closer to an off-white or even beige colour.
Following the black colour scheme of the bezel and strap, the titanium caseback is treated with a black DLC coating hiding the automatic movement below. As mentioned, the 2020 Bvlgari Aluminium models are intended to be entry-level models and are not equipped with a Bvlgari manufacture calibre. Calibre B77 has an ETA 2892 base and won’t let you down. Beating at a frequency of 28,000vph, the calibre has a power reserve of 42 hours for the hours, minutes, seconds and date functions.
Quick facts: 40mm – aluminium case, titanium caseback and crown with black DLC – black rubber bezel – 100m water-resistance – black (Ref. 103445) or white (Ref. 103382) dial with luminescent hands and indices – B77 automatic calibre (base ETA 2892) 28,800vph, 42h power reserve – black rubber strap with aluminium links and pin buckle – EUR 2,950
Aluminium Chronograph 103383
Similar to the 1998 Bvlgari Bvlgari Chronograph, the 2020 model displays the same tricompax layout and Panda-style dial with black sub-counters and a warm grey background. The diameter of the aluminium case is 40mm and the titanium caseback has a black DLC treatment which is also used on the push-pieces and the crown. Naturally, the prominent sloping black rubber bezel with its Bvlgari Bvlgari inscription commands attention and sums up the brand’s distinct talent for taking elements of Rome’s imperial past (coins) and presenting them in a new light.
The dial, which I will call off-white, displays the same bold black hour markers and Arabic numeral at 12 o’clock. Lume on the hour markers and tips of the hour and minute hands aids legibility in the dark, but this was already a feature of the first Aluminium models of 1998. The three black sub-dials – 12-hour totaliser at 6 o’clock, 30-min totaliser at 9 o’clock and running seconds at 3 o’clock – are placed in the lower half of the dial and all signal the times with white hands. The central chronograph hand has a red tip – perhaps a touch of red on the chronograph counters wouldn’t be amiss? As always, the inclusion of a date window is debatable.
As an entry-level proposal, the Aluminium Chronograph is equipped with the Bvlgari calibre B130, a robust automatic movement based on an ETA 2894 with a 42-hour power reserve.
Quick facts: 40mm aluminium case, titanium caseback, crown and push-pieces with black DLC – black rubber bezel – 100m water-resistance – warm grey dial with black sub-dials – B130 automatic calibre (base ETA 2894), 28,800vph, 42h power reserve – black rubber bracelet with aluminium links and pin buckle – EUR 4,250
For more information, please visit bulgari.com.
I have not come across an aluminium watch before. With a rubber strap you will hardly kniw its there. I wonder how scratch resistant they will be?
@phil. aluminium is a very soft metal, even after hardening treatments it is significantly softer than steel. it will show marks for every little scratch on the watch case, a bit like a linen costume at the end of a work day.
There is also the problem that the rubber bezel will deteriorate over time making it pretty expensive with poor longevity at this price.They should have just used steel which is hardly heavy on a regular watch. The best feature is the legibility of the sub dials which is excellent.
I have this Watch for 30 years nos it is been mantained, but I Gad to acquire a new strap, how and were can i Find it ?