Designing an everyday watch is not an easy thing declared Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani. The director of Bvlgari Watches Design Center shared that confession when we sat down with him during the launch of the Italian house’s latest incarnation of its popular Serpenti collection – the Seduttori – in Shanghai last week.
Now that statement seems ironic for a man who is responsible for the design and aesthetics of complex record-smashing tickers like the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater which is thinnest minute repeater around. But such was the challenge that Buonamassa Stigliani and his team faced when tasked with translating a collection wildly known for its Cleopatra-ian glamour and statement-making coiled bracelet into a watch that is meant to be worn every day.
“When we first started creating the Seduttori five years ago, it was originally meant to be an addition to our high jewellery pieces. But that project eventually turned into creating a totally new everyday Serpenti watch,” he revealed. Buonamassa Stigliani who considers himself more of an industrial designer – he’s done everything from furniture to shoes to cars in his career – was therefore faced with a design conundrum.
“The watch has to be discreet, mainstream, well-executed but with a strong character. All that becomes harder with a brand like Bvlgari because our style is so recognisable and so strong.” said the Naples-born designer who has a penchant for stripped-down design and modern clean details. FYI: His boss and Bvlgari chief executive Jean-Christophe Babin describes Buonamassa Stigliani as the brand’s Leonardo Da Vinci.
The result is a total overhaul of the Serpenti family. The 10-piece debut collection of quartz-powered timepieces features new design codes. The most striking introduction is a mesh bracelet made up of hexagonal-shaped links that are said to sit on your wrist like a second skin. Because, you know, women are tactile creatures. Supple yet durable, the links come with a little tension in their engineering. “Otherwise it’s like a souffle. It looks amazing but when you put spoon it doesn’t bounce back,” he quipped as he illustrated the bracelet design on the sketch paper in front of him.
To accommodate the new bracelet, the Serpenti’s signature drop-cased shape that is seen in designs like the Serpenti Tubogas and Serpenti Spiga models had to be overhauled. In place is a more pronounced slimmer 33mm-wide case that gives the Serpenti a more refined and sophisticated appearance. There are versions that come in purely white gold, yellow gold and rose gold, as well as more approachable options in steel or bi-coloured steel and gold designs. Of course, this being Bvlgari, diamond-studded pieces – from subtle diamonds lining the bezel to fully-paved watches – are available.
At the end of the day, the Seduttori lives up to its name which means “seduction” in Italiano. It might not necessarily exude the kind of sensuous glamour many would associate with older generation Serpentis; this is a more contemporary approach to Italian glamour. In Buonamassa Stigliani ‘s own words: “We Italians love extravaganza, but as a designer, I also love restraints. Constraints often drive a new aesthetic and allow me to introduces a new element.”