Monochrome Watches
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The New Bulgari Serpenti Misteriosi And Monete Catene Secret Watches (Live Pics & Price)

Captivating Roman design, a miniature in-house mechanical movement and high jewellery flair make their way into four secret watches.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 5 min read |

Among the six novelties Bulgari will unveil during Geneva Watch Days are four extraordinary high jewellery secret watches. The brand’s famous mascot, the Serpenti, snakes back into the limelight decked out in gemstones and powered by the smallest mechanical movement on the market. Another iconic Bulgari design is the incorporation of ancient Roman coins into jewellery and watch designs, and the Roman brand releases two secret Monete Catene watches attached to the wrist with supple chain bracelets, also equipped with Bulgari’s miniature Piccolissimo calibre BVL 100.

Last year Bulgari had a treat for fans of the Serpenti and launched a collection of Serpenti Misteriosi high jewellery watches powered by the brand’s tiny, weeny Piccolissimo mechanical movement. Taking advantage of the brand’s formidable know-how in developing ultra-thin movements for the Octo Finissimo collection, the Piccolissimo calibre BVL 100 measures just 12.30mm across, is 2.50mm thick and weighs 1.30 grams. One of the smallest mechanical movements available today, the calibre was entirely conceived and produced at Bulgari’s Manufacture in Le Sentier. To ensure good inertia, the balance wheel is made of white gold, and to save space, the anchor is positioned laterally. With no stem for the crown, the winding and setting are done directly with the bidirectional crown on the caseback. The extreme miniaturisation of its 102 components is illustrated by the tiny barrel with its 5mm diameter and 170mm long spring that can deliver 30 hours of power reserve.

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Serpenti Misteriosi

Charming women with their sensuous coils since the late 1940s, the Serpenti returns glistening with diamonds in the white gold version or a combination of black lacquer and diamonds in the rose gold model.

Each of the Serpenti’s overlapping hexagonal scales is cast using a lost-wax technique, and its sinuous body coils around the wrist in two turns. The white gold model glistens with the light of 116 brilliant-cut diamonds, and the eyes glow with the alluring light of pear-shaped emeralds. The snake’s head, complete with a gold forked tongue, guards the pavé-set dial powered by the tiny, ultra-thin Piccolissimo calibre.

The dramatic rose gold Serpenti Misteriosi has black lacquered scales punctuated with navette-cut diamonds. Like the white gold snake, the eyes are pear-shaped emeralds.

Designed to be worn on either arm, the movement is detachable and can be twisted to face the wearer or removed to be serviced.

Quick facts: white gold model set with 116 brilliant-cut diamonds (32.91 ct.) – rose gold model alternates lack lacquered scales with navette-cut diamonds (11.9 ct.) – pear-shaped emerald eyes (0.44 ct.) – pavé diamonds on dial (0.28 ct.) – Piccolissimo calibre BVL 100 manual-winding micro movement – 21,600vph – 30h power reserve – ref. 103795  white gold EUR 311,000 – ref. 103884 rose gold EUR 354,000

Monete Catene

In the mid-1960s, Nicola Bulgari introduced Gemme Nummarie, a line of jewellery and watches designed around ancient Roman coins. Bulgari now uses ancient coins to create secret watches for men and women, like the impressive Octo Roma Monete shielding a sophisticated ultra-thin tourbillon movement.

In a similar spirit, the two gold Monete Catene High Jewellery Secret Watches hide their dials beneath ancient coins. The impressive Monete Catene cuff watch features two coins on its hinged rectangular cover protecting the two dials of this dual time watch. One coin depicts the emperor Septimius Severus (193-211 AD), and his spouse, Julia Donna (193-217 AD), is portrayed on the other coin. The rectangular design of the Dual Time is inspired by a watch made by Bulgari in the 1970s. The coins are encircled with yellow gold, while the case is made in rose gold with an outer frame set with baguette-cut diamonds and snow-set diamonds in the centre. Two emerald cabochons on either side of the case open the hinged cover to reveal two separate dials – one with red hands, the other with green ones – that can be used to display the time in two different time zones. The dials and the surrounding space are also snow-set with a flurry of white diamonds.

The bracelet is a work of goldsmithing art and is composed of five alternating yellow and rose gold curb chains (catene in Italian) that have been part of Bulgari’s design language since the 1940s. The links of the five chains are set with diamonds and held in place by white gold bars set with baguette-cut diamonds.

Quick facts: Monete Catene Dual Time – rose, yellow and white gold case and chain bracelet set with baguette-cut (21.76 ct.) and brilliant-cut (20.80 ct.) diamonds – two ancient Roman coins on secret cover – 2 emerald cabochons to open case – 2 Piccolissimo calibre BVL 100 manual-winding micro movement – 21,600vph – 30h power reserve – ref. 103871 – EUR 720,000

The second Monete Catene model is crafted in rose gold and features a silver denarius coin on the cover depicting Emperor Caracalla (198-217 AD). Like many of Bulgari’s designs, the case replicates architectural features from Rome’s Imperial past. The octagonal case is said to be inspired by the coffering on the ceiling of the Maxentius Basilica in Rome. Set with brilliant-cut diamonds, the section at 3 o’clock can be opened to reveal the dial. Despite the geometry of the case, the watch has round, fluid forms that flow into the two rose gold chains that comprise the bracelet.

The dial of the Monete Catene is mother-of-pearl with diamond indices framed by a halo of diamonds.

Quick facts: Monete Catene – rose gold case and chain bracelet set with diamonds (4.10 ct.) – case cover set with silver coin of Emperor Caracalla – Piccolissimo calibre BVL 100 manual-winding micro movement – 21,600vph – 30h power reserve – ref. 103870  – EUR 220,000

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