The launch of the Octo Finissimo collection in 2014 was a defining moment in the history of Bvlgari watches. Topping one record after the other for seven consecutive years, the brand became the master of ultra-slim movements and redefined the aesthetic of the luxury sports watch in a distinctive, modern and stylish design language. After exploring the limits of ultra-thin mechanical watchmaking, Bvlgari now sets its eyes on ultra-small with Piccolissimo. With it, the Roman brand opens new territories of expression for its feminine watches, in particular, the emblematic Serpenti Collection.
There is nothing wrong with quartz movements. Quartz is more precise, does not require regular winding, and tends to be less fragile overall. But, for many people looking for high-end handcrafted watches, a mechanical movement seems to be the preferred choice. Although quartz is often the only option for small ladies’ watches, there is a real need and demand for well-crafted mechanical watches. And since Haute Joaillerie and Haute Horlogerie are about exceptional craftsmanship, these two worlds can (and will) live together even in the world of compact models.
However, there are not many ultra-small mechanical movements on the market today. There is, of course, the tiny, hand-wound JLC 101 calibre measuring 14mm in length, less than 5mm wide and weighing barely one gram. Then there is Blancpain, which created the Ladybird R550 in the 1950s (11.85mm in diameter), powered by the round cal. 615 (15.70mm) and the rectangular cal. 510 (12mm x 25.2mm). Le Temps Manufactures (LTM) in Fleurier has a the LTM1000 with dimensions of 9mm x 21mm. Given the scarcity of small mechanical movements, Bvlgari decided to create its own ultra-compact mechanical movement to power its smallest watches.
The Bvlgari Piccolissimo Calibre BVL 100 is a round movement with a 12mm diameter, a thickness of 2.50mm and a weight of just 1.30 grams. As you can see, it is really small… and seeing it in the metal is even more striking.
As you would expect, developing such a small movement is no small challenge but the expertise built up over the years with Finissimo was instrumental for the Bvlgari teams. Miniaturisation is the name of the game, and tolerances need to be reduced to minimum levels. In particular, it requires ultra-precise lamination for the mainspring and the hairspring. The slightest variations of the spring profile have an impact on the watch performance.
Embarking in the development of the project, the Bvlgari team wanted a balance wheel with good inertia despite the reduced size of the movement. Therefore, the balance wheel is made in grey gold and is 5.40mm in diameter. A higher inertia means better rate stability. But as with other engineering issues, it comes with tradeoffs, and you need to find the best suitable compromise.
The traditional construction of the movement has a few tweaks. For instance, the construction required a lateral anchor to save space. Yet, the most visible specificity relates to the original winding and time setting mechanism. The Calibre BVL 100 does not feature a stem as all settings are performed via its back. On either side of the crown wheel (with a square bolt) are superimposed wheels with planetary gears designed to lock in one direction (to wind the watch or set the time) and allow free rotation in the other direction.
The Bvlgari Piccolissimo Calibre BVL 100 now makes its debut in the iconic Serpenti Misteriosi high jewellery collection. For more information, you can watch our video about these new watches here or visit www.bulgari.com.
Technical Specifications: 12mm diameter x 2.5mm height – 102 components including 21 jewels – 1.30 grams in total – 21,600 vibrations/hour – 30-hour power reserve – hours and minutes