Bulgari is known for its focus on design, but the brand’s Diagono Ceramic is durable as well. Alexander Krupp takes a closer look at the watch in a piece from the the WatchTime archives. With images by OK-Photography.
Toughness isn’t the first thing you look for in a brand like Bulgari, which puts high style front and center. That’s why the brand’s sporty Diagono Ceramic is a bit of a surprise: it’s built to withstand all manner of threats, from water, hard knocks and abrasion.
The watch is named for its scratch-resistant ceramic bezel (the Bulgari name is inscribed on it twice, a design feature found on many Bulgari watches). The case is water resistant to 100 meters and fitted with a rubber strap. The caseback and crown screw in to enhance impermeability. Crown protectors shield the crown from blows.
The Diagono Ceramic is easy to operate. Although the crown, which is coated with ceramic, is not large, it is easy to grasp and turn, thanks to its fluting. The chronograph buttons, which are also ceramic, require a bit of force to push down but have grooved surfaces to resist slipping.
The watch is also very comfortable. The swiveling cylindrical lugs, in conjunction with the ergonomically shaped strap, ensure a perfect fit for any wrist.
The Diagono Ceramic does somewhat less well when it comes to legibility. The hour and minutes hands stop way short of their corresponding markers and are difficult to see when they’re on top of the subdials because they are the same color as the subdials’ thick chapter rings. But at night, the luminosity of the hour and minutes hands and the hour markers is strong. The watch is almost easier to read at night than during the day.
Its timekeeping is good. The watch ran two seconds fast per day during the wearing test. The electronic timing machine showed a similar result: +1.5 seconds per day. The manufacturer adjusts the watch in five positions but we tested it in six and detected a fairly large difference among them. The greatest deviation when the chronograph was running was 10 seconds, due primarily to an anomaly in the crown right position. Few watch brands check this position since it seldom occurs in real life other than when the wearer looks at his watch. (The watchmaker who helped us with this test, Martin Thom of Depperich Jewelers in Reutlingen, Germany, says all positions are important because they can reveal fine-adjustment problems and because watches kept on watch winders can remain in a particular position for a long time.)
The watch contains the ETA 2894 in its “Top” grade. Unlike a lower-quality “Elaboré” movement, a Top one has a temperature-resistant Glucydur balance (instead of a gold-plated nickel one) and a high-end hairspring. In addition, ETA subjects the movement to a more extensive adjustment process with lower tolerances.
Thom describes the 2894 as technologically advanced, reliable and easily serviceable. And, since it is smaller and thinner than the ETA 7753 (which is also used in watches like this one, with tri-compax displays), it fits in smaller watches, though its smaller dimensions mean reduced reliability.
Whatever its other qualities, the watch’s strong suit is its visual appeal. The Diagono Ceramic has a complex and highly detailed design and is almost perfectly finished. Why “almost”? Because the satin finish on the angular mid-section of the case and on the fixed cylindrical settings for the lugs does not extend into the difficult-to-reach grooves between the mid-section and lugs, and seams are visible on the back where the components meet.
Still, the combination of ceramic (bezel and pushers), stainless steel (case mid-section, caseback and bracelet links) and ceramic-coated stainless steel (crown) makes a great overall impression. The combination of beauty and functionality is appealing, and both the bezel and lugs, which are ergonomically shaped, are attractive design features.
The Diagono Ceramic’s excellent finishing and overall high-quality appearance justify its price of $8,750, which is in line with other Bulgari products. The watch’s ability to withstand various assaults from the environment is a bonus that will interest many potential buyers.
Manufacturer: Bulgari Horlogerie SA, Rue de Monruz 34, CH-2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Reference number: DG42BSCVDCH
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with 30-minute and 12-hour counters, date, hack mechanism
Movement: ETA 2894 “Top,” automatic, 28,800 vph, 37 jewels, Incabloc shock absorber, Etachron fine regulator with eccentric, Anachron hairspring, power reserve = 42 hours, diameter = 28.6 mm, height 6.1 mm
Case: Stainless steel, ceramic bezel and chrono pushers, flat sapphire crystal with nonreflective coating, screw-down crown, fully threaded stainless-steel caseback, water resistant to 100 m
Strap and clasp: Natural rubber strap with stainless-steel accents and pronged buckle
Rate results (Deviations in seconds per 24 hours; Chronograph off/on):
Dial up 0/+2
Dial down +1/+2
Crown up +5/+5
Crown down +1/+3
Crown left +6/+8
Crown right -4/-4
Greatest deviation 10/12
Average deviation +1.5/+2.7
Flat positions 298°/284°
Hanging positions 268°/256°
Dimensions: Diameter = 42 mm, height = 10.4 mm, weight = 131 g
Variations: Rose gold ($25,600)
Strap and clasp (max. 10 points): The natural rubber strap has an unusual, ergonomic design. The simple clasp is no match for it. 8
Operation (5): The screw-down crown could be a bit larger but its fluted surface is ideal. The large pushers demand a bit of force to operate. 4
Case (10): Perfect finishing, except for some hard-to-reach places between the mid-section and lugs. 9
Design (15): Compelling sports watch design with elegant accents. 14
Legibility (5): The center-mounted hands are noticeably short and are difficult to see when they’re above the subdials of the same color. 3
Wearing comfort (10): Swiveling lugs and a moderately large case make for a very comfortable watch. 10
Movement (20): The “Top” grade of the standard chronograph movement, the ETA 2894, boasts a Glucydur balance, Anachron hairspring and various decorative finishes. 13
Rate results (10): The average deviation is very low, but the difference between the various positions is too high. 6
Value (15): The price is in line with the high-quality finishing. 12
TOTAL: 79 POINTS
This article first appeared in the February 2014, issue of WatchTime Magazine.