Hands-On – The New Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori Watches
Long known for its iconic Serpenti watch, Bulgari continues to evolve the collection, regularly infusing it with innovation and elegance. This week in Venice, the Italian house of Bulgari unveiled its stunning new high-jewelry and watch collections. Among them: the Serpenti Seduttori watch. Inspired by the brand’s legendary Serpenti watch, the new pieces are gem-set wonders that elevate the collection in a host of ways.
History of the Bulgari Serpenti
Since Bulgari’s inception more than 130 years ago, the Roman-born brand’s top designers have been inspired by Mediterranean beauty and have infused flowers, nature and color into its masterpieces. In an effort to capture the spirit of Bulgari’s Mediterranean Eden, the brand’s skilled master craftsmen developed the highly coveted Serpenti collection of jewelry, and later, in the mid 1900’s, the watches.
Serpenti pieces are seductive interpretations of the snake, inspired by Greek and Roman mythology and also by the Garden of Eden. The creature, which represents exotic charm, wisdom and hypnotic appeal, has been recreated by the brand in a host of sensual renditions that coil around the wrist. The open-faced watches show their true function, while secret watches with heads that lift or move to reveal the dial beneath, give a new meaning to Serpenti.
Examples of Vintage Bulgari Serpenti watches (the one on the right being branded Jaeger-LeCoultre)
Easily one of the most iconic renditions of Serpenti is the Serpenti Tubogas: the Serpenti head on a flexible bracelet that wraps around the wrist anywhere from once to five times depending on the version. The bracelet was first developed by Bulgari in 1932 and is highly technical and time-consuming to create. Each one is made using two 15-foot (depending on the number of coils of the bracelet) lengths of metal that wrap around a steel blade. It is interesting to note that Elizabeth Taylor wore a Serpenti Tubogas watch in 1962 when filming the movie Cleopatra.
Elizabeth Taylor with a Serpenti Tubogas in 1962 movie Cleopatra
A few years ago, Bulgari unveiled the Serpenti Incantati watch, a round version of Serpenti with a snake-coil gem-set bezel.
This year, the brand releases the Serpenti Twist watch, a versatile timepiece featuring the visible dial snakehead that slides on and off of a variety of interchangeable different colored leather straps. These Serpenti timepieces are geared for a younger audience or for those desiring a Serpenti at a more value-oriented price.
Serpenti Seduttori Watches
On the luxury side of Serpenti, as mentioned, Bulgari has just unveiled the haute Joaillerie Serpenti Seduttori watches. Featuring gem-set bangle bracelets, the new pieces focus on the glamour and beauty of geometric designs. Each watch features the iconic snakehead – richly embellished with gemstones that almost form a crown atop the head, which opens to reveal the watch dial beneath. These may well be the most colorful renditions of Serpenti the brand has ever created. Even the Serpenti eyes are made with pear-shaped stones.
According to Bulgari, this collection represents the first cuff-bracelet watch produced for Serpenti. In reality, the tail of the snake does not make \ closure contact with the head of the snake, making it more a bangle than a cuff. Because the watches are powered by top-notch Swiss quartz movements, we will focus more on the delightful designs and hand craftsmanship of this collection.
The Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori High Jewelry Secret Bangle Unique Watches
There are two unique pieces in the collection – each with a floral gemstone crown on the snakehead. The 18-karat pink gold version features a curved 36mm case. The head of the secret watch, as mentioned, is decorated with a flower made of five marquis-cut diamonds, one pear-shaped rubellite, one pear-shaped tourmaline, two pear-shaped tanzanites, a single pear-shaped violet garnet and a center round-cut emerald. Two pear-shaped emeralds form the eyes of the snake. The head of the snake opens to reveal a dial set with 85 brilliant-cut diamonds. The resplendent bracelet is set with 163 brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 7.40 carats, and 35 baguette-cut tourmalines weighing 2.45 carats. In all, it is one of the most colorful Serpenti watches and beautifully brings together Bulgari’s love of nature.
The 18-karat white gold one-of-a-kind Serpenti Seduttori watch is less colorful, as it utilizes only diamonds and rubies. Like the other version, the secret dial of this watch is also set with 85 brilliant-cut diamonds, but the snake eyes of this model are in pear-shaped rubies. The floral motif atop the head is made using 198 brilliant- and marquis-cut diamonds and five pear-shaped rubies. The white gold bracelet is set with 375 brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 9.45 carats and 35 baguette-cut rubies weighing 3.20 carats. This may well be the most shimmering Serpenti one will ever meet.
The Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori Cabochon Watch
In addition to the one-of-a-kind pieces just mentioned, the other high-jewelry Serpenti Seduttori watches uses a bold cabochon gemstone, such as tourmaline, tanzanite or sapphire, to crown the head of the snake instead of the floral motif. Like the unique pieces, the bracelets that form the body of the Serpenti Seduttori watches are all created in 18-karat pink or white gold and – in typical Bulgari style – are highly stylized and beautifully finished on both the visible side (bedecked in jewels) and on the inside portion that hugs the wrist. Each bracelet is set with shimmering rows of either pave-set or baguette-cut diamonds and color-coordinated gemstones that match the cabochon atop the Serpenti secret watch. All of the dials are set with 85 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Easily one of the most stunning Seduttori timepieces is the one set with a singe cabochon cut pink tourmaline weighing 17.4 carats. This model features two pear-shaped emerald eyes, 18-carat pink gold curved case set with 39 brilliant-cut diamonds (2.2 carats), 18-karat pink gold bracelet set with 116 brilliant-cut diamonds (7.75 carats) and 35 baguette-cut tourmalines (2.4 carats). This model, SAP 102650, retails for 176,000 CHF (151,600 EUR).
Impressions of the Serpenti Seduttori Watches
While Bulgari also just unveiled other alluring high-jeweled Serpenti watches with triple-row Tubogas gem-set bracelets (including one model in green enamel set with pearls and pearl-crown atop the head), the newest Seduttori quartz-powered watches steal the limelight. Like all Bulgari jewelry and high-jeweled watches, these pieces are born of creativity and passionate craftsmanship. The bangle bracelets offer a modern twist to the iconic Tubogas and fit the wrist elegantly. The curved cases offer an ergonomic appeal that magnificently complements the bracelet. In all, the new Serpenti Seduttori watches – with crowned snakeheads – are, well, fit for a queen.
This article has been written by Roberta Naas, founder of A Timely Perspective; and author of six books on watches.