Bulgari unveiled not only a new, larger Baselworld booth this year; it also rolled out several new watches for both ladies and men. I covered the limited-edition Bulgari Roma last week, and at the show I also got a look at its amazing Commedia dell’Arte Minute Repeater watches, whose intricately decorated dials have tiny automaton figures that move in concert with the watch’s musical chiming. There are three models, each one limited to eight pieces, depicting three scenes from the 16th-century Italian theater of masked performances: Arlecchino (pictured, front and back, below), Puccinella, and Brighella. The three #1 editions of the watches will be packaged together as a set. Bulgari says that prices for each one will be around $400,000 and the collectors’ set of #1 watches, along with special theater masks to accompany each timepiece, will be around $1.2 million.
The WatchTime team was treated to a fine lunch by our friends at Bell & Ross, and after we finished our sushi, we got a look at the brand’s new products for 2013, starting with the three new pieces in its BR01 Aviation collection, which I covered last week. Among the other new Bell & Ross watches were two impressively complicated models, not customarily in the brand’s wheelhouse, which are pictured below. One is the PW1 Minute Repeater, an elegantly styled, limited-edition pocketwatch with a five-minute repeater movement by Dubois Dépraz. I was taken aback at the price of this one: about $39,000, very reasonable for a minute repeater. There will be 20 pieces made. And yes, this year, even Bell & Ross had a tourbillon: called the WW2 tourbillon, it is the result of the brand’s bold quest to make a “military-style” tourbillon wristwatch. Its watch designers accomplished this by incorporating into the case a hinged dial cover reminiscent of the mesh guards on historical military watches. The dial has a regulator-style arrangement and also has a power reserve indicator (the watch holds five days of power) and a “trust index,” which measures the tension of the mainspring. This one’s also limited to 20 pieces and sells for $130,000.
We wrapped up the show with a visit to Harry Winston, saving the best, some would say, for last. Of course, it is now Baselworld tradition for the renowned jeweler and watchmaker to launch one of its haute-de-gamme Opus timepieces there, usually dazzling the watch cognoscenti with some innovative technological development or other. This year’s Opus, the Opus XIII (below, front and back), upped the ante on last year’s Opus XII, which had 12 rotating hour markers that flipped at the change of every hour. This watch has — count ’em — 59 rotating minute markers, 11 hour hands, and 242 functional rubies that hold them all in place. One tiny minute “hand” flips every 60 seconds, then all simultaneously flip back at the end of the hour, when the next hour “hand” flips over and starts the process again. At the 12 o’clock hour, the Harry Winston “HW” logo pops into place in the dial’s center. The Opus XIII is the brainchild of Ludovic Ballouiard, an independent watchmaker and master of the “double-jump retrograde,” who has worked in the past for Franck Muller and F.P. Journe. It is limited to 150 pieces, and as you’d expect, it is not cheap: U.S. retail is $298,200. To read about Harry Winston’s other super-complicated piece released at Baselworld, the Histoire de Tourbillon 4, click here.
We’re back home but we’ve still got more from Baselworld to reveal, so Keep checking out WatchTime.com and Watch-Insider.com the rest of the week.