I Giardini di Bulgari: Sophisticated combinations of the Decorative Arts
I Giardini di Bulgari: Sophisticated combinations of the Decorative Arts
When BVLGARI watches compose poetry, they invite you into Gardens where the most beautiful of all possible stories prepare to bloom. Artistic gardens where technique, creativity, crafts and complications rhyme with desire.
Secrets of Decorative Arts
Drawing their inspiration from the history of jewellery, the dials of BVLGARI watches are testimony to a proven mastery in the most elegant decorative techniques. A collection of exceptional watches reveals the most prestigious decorative craft techniques that the Maison has been promoting and perpetuating for more than 130 years.
Everything starts with a sketch, a drawing that commits the chosen theme, the story to be told, to paper. That of the Maison BVLGARI has been in the writing for more than 130 years. In step with its boundless creativity, themes dear to the jeweller have been transformed into endearing points of reference that are powerful reminders of its identity. The Naturalia jewellery collection is amongst these. Since 1991, its treasures have celebrated the inexhaustible wealth of shapes, colours and compositions inspired by Nature. In a stylised interpretation made of precious and semi-precious stones, flowers, parrots, fish and shells come to life in rainbow of colours.
A rich and fascinating universe that finds a new expression at the heart of a collection of complicated watches. I GIARDINI DI BVLGARI features the emblematic motifs of the Naturalia collection, produced using the techniques of champlevé, miniature painting, mother-of-pearl – or stone – marquetry and gemsetting. Each year since 2013, the Roman jeweller has launched new compositions from its garden, reminiscent of both here and further afield.
Giving the watch its unique face, the dial is the symbol of its soul. It makes its functions visible and affirms its identity. The dial remains a complex speciality that often requires more than 20 different operations and dozens of components. The BVLGARI dial creation workshops have 40 craftsmen who master more than a dozen specialisations.
Who are these interpreters of the soul, these men and women of passion who perpetuate the traditions and spirit of the Maison BVLGARI? Bevellers, pivot makers, polishers, dial makers, dial printers, applique fitters, stamping specialists and hand-makers shape its architecture; while engravers, gemsetters, miniature painters and marquetry artists shape its story.
In BVLGARI’s gardens, as architecture and stories come together, dreams and magic weave their spell. Unique gardens bloom beneath the passion that drives the artists. By plunging the gaze into the heart of these miniature works of art, one can easily imagine the intricate ballet of hands that delicately engrave, mill, polish, set, paint and inlay.
The most highly honed decorative skills, mastered over ages by the Maison, are exemplified in the I GIARDINI DI BVLGARI collection, whose dials combine several of the most delicate decorative techniques.
The first dial-makers carved stones for sundials, an art that dates back to more than a century B.C. The invention of a two-hand (hours and minutes) dial dates back to 1675.
The creation of a dial remains an art in itself, a field of expression with a degree of complexity that is in direct contrast to the size of the few square centimetres of which a dial consists. These areas express the soul of the watch and remain the focus of all attention. On a gold dial on which the thickness is calculated in relation to the decorations that are placed on it, the BVLGARI dial-maker starts by adapting the desired motif to its size, namely 29.50 mm in diameter for the dials used in the I GIARDINI DI BVLGARI.
The watch movement and its complications impose exactly what the watch face will look like. Combining ancient craft techniques with complex mechanical processes, the master dial-maker adorns and decorates in keeping with the graphic composition decided upon for the dial motif, be it tropical forests, the underwater world, a swan gliding across Como Lake or the starry night sky. It is his task to write the beginning of the story of BVLGARI dials, be they guilloché, silvered, sunray, lacquered, paved or painted.
Champlevé is a goldsmithing technique that enjoyed its own golden age in the Middle Ages. This decorative art enables the material to be engraved so that miniature painting, enamel and marquetry can be applied. The contours of the motifs are first drawn on the gold dial before the application of champlevé. The surfaces that will be worked on are hollowed out of a gold plate and decorated with miniature painting and mother-of-pearl or stone marquetry. Decorations that give depth, colour and life to the motifs in BVLGARI’s gardens. The technique used by the Maison is that of champlevé engraving which leaves a raised gold wire visible accentuating the delicacy of these motifs. The precious metal wires outline parrot, leaf and swan motifs as well as the branches of IL GIARDINO TROPICALE or the corals of IL GIARDINO MARINO.
Bright stars in the sky of IL GIARDINO NOTTURNO, sparkling flowers in the tropical forest of IL GIARDINO TROPICALE and the reflection of the sun in the glittering waters of IL GIARDINO LARIANO. This is due to the skilful setting techniques intermingled on these dials. The snow setting behind the swan in IL GIARDINO LARIANO with 309 diamonds in three different sizes. The gemsetter easily devotes an entire day to finding the perfect setting and positioning for each one of these. In contrast to the profusion of colours in miniature painting, IL GIARDINO TROPICALE offers a paved dial consisting of 226 brilliant-cut diamonds. It takes at least a day for the gemsetter to drive in and set the stones into each dial so as to reveal their beauty.
While undoubtedly more discreet than enamelling, miniature painting is an art that has other qualities that are every bit as noble and complex. This technique combines precision and patience to create bright, deep or subtle colours. Miniature painting enables every nuance of the entire colour spectrum to be explored, resulting in a palette that is every bit as rich as that of nature itself. This technique was an obvious choice for BVLGARI when it came to creating its gardens. While drawing remains the guide for miniature painting in order to achieve the décor on the dial, the artist nonetheless interprets and translates the paper result onto gold. Work begins with the choice of colours and the creation of a palette with subtle shades.
Miniature painting has a certain richness - in contrast to enamelling, that enables an infinite range of tones and subtle gradations. The artist prepares his equipment: a brush he makes himself by hand from a few marten hairs, and the only material able to meet the needs of the artist in order to produce the incredibly subtle, miniature strokes.
The creation begins with the lightest colours and ends with the application of the darkest that will provide the contrast, shadow and textured effects. There is a large degree of freedom that provides scope for accurate detailing that would be hard to achieve using other methods. After each layer of colour, the dial is placed in a kiln at 90°C, allowing the material to dry and set. Five colours bring life to the swan of IL GIARDINO LARIANO and 15 colours to the parrot of IL GIARDINO TROPICALE. These colours are subtly graded so as to give volume and depth to the motif. The task of miniature painting is long and meticulous, as colours are applied one after the other using a microscope and require several firings. While the parrot is more labour intensive with regard to the application of colours, the swan is more complex in terms of shading. It takes a week of miniature painting to complete the dials of I GIARDINI DI BVLGARI.
Inspired by intarsia – marquetry’s ancestor – this technique dates back to antiquity and had its heyday in the 14th century when Italy revolutionised the use by applying it to furniture.
Building on these powerful origins, BVLGARI has featured this Renaissance art since the 1970s, using this ornamental motif to adorn its jewellery. The BVLGARI jeweller transposes it into its watchmaking universe by inlaying its dials with materials such as mother-of-pearl and stone. It is by playing on the alternation of shapes and materials that it brings life to the motifs in its gardens. The pieces are delicately cut out, applied and assembled, like a mosaic, and become part of the final motif on the dial. The iridescent reflections of the mother-of-pearl and the opacity of the hard stones are adjusted by the skilled hand of the marquetry expert.
At every stage of the creation of the dial, the polisher softens the lines, erases imperfections, renews the sparkle and gives the dial its final perfect finish. Brushing, satin finishing or buffing give the gold a shiny or matt, finely crafted appearance. This is a highly technical, extremely meticulous skill that requires years of experience and plays a key role in the final result of every BVLGARI watch.
I GIARDINI DI BVLGARI
The jeweller’s gardens spring to life in the 37 mm gold case of the emblematic BVLGARI BVLGARI Lady collection. These gardens mingle several decorative techniques with complicated mechanisms. The models feature a bezel engraved with the name of the Maison or set with around 2.9 carats of diamonds. These are models graced with a unique face and produced in a confidential and exclusive manner involving extremely limited quantities.
In 2013, the Maison BVLGARI created its first complicated feminine watch imbued with the exotic charm of a tropical garden. A moving tourbillon in the centre of bright, colourful décor features several artistic crafts including miniature painting. In 2014, the collection was enriched with an inlaid underwater Garden of Eden in hard stone. In 2015, two new inspirations, seven new creations and new combinations of decorative arts are being added to its gardens. These will be available from September onwards.
The I GIARDINI DI BVLGARI collection now consists of four gardens demonstrating the skill and creativity of the Maison BVLGARI. With passion and patience, meticulousness and creativity, a sense of artistry and mastery of gesture, its dials are transformed into true ambassadors of traditional crafts. They feature an array of five different yet complementary techniques. Champlevé, miniature painting, mother-of-pearl marquetry, stone marquetry and gemsetting. Dials instilled with all the richness of the hands and souls that have shaped their unique character. Each dial, despite sometimes reproducing an identical motif, has its own identity composed of very subtle nuances that result in its own particular uniqueness.
ARTISTIC CRAFTS ALTERNATE IN TIME TO A TOURBILLON
The mechanical self-wound tourbillon movement is a BVL 263 Manufacture calibre that is circular-grained and adorned with Côtes de Genève. It has a 64-hour power reserve and is water-resistant to 30 metres. The tourbillon cage features sapphire bridges.
This garden with colourful accents is dominated by the splendour of a parrot. Consisting of two distinct elements, the dial presents a background in pink mother-of-pearl set with 61 diamonds or paved with 226 snow-set diamonds. In the foreground, the decor of a tropical jungle using champlevé engraving is traced on gold. From orange to purple, under the sure strokes of miniature painting, a parrot trimmed with floral and plant motif comes to life. Miniature painting possesses the quality of revealing the colours with unparalleled power, and of giving them texture and depth. The dial consists of 15 different colours worked in subtle shading, infusing this garden with vibrant luxuriance.
IL GIARDINO LARIANO
A romantic garden reminiscent of the charm of the Como Lake region.
Through the staging of IL GIARDINO LARIANO, BVLGARI also tells the story of aventurine and its origins. Dating back to the Renaissance, aventurine glass is the result of a lucky discovery. A family of Murano glassmakers dropped copper filings in molten glass, resulting in shiny, gilded reflections from the metallic spangles. Under a night blue sky made of glass with a constellation of 244 snow-set diamonds, the elegance of a white swan is emphasised by the subtle nuances of the miniature painting. With fine brush strokes creating purplish-pink shading, its feathers settle like petals with a breathtaking effect. The five colours of which the swan is composed require five layers of paint and as many firings in the kiln. Gliding across the blue-grey Tahitian mother-of-pearl waters, the swan crosses waves underscored with diamonds that billow above a tourbillon with transparent bridges.
IL GIARDINO MARINO
An underwater Garden of Eden with bright, iridescent colours composed of coral, starfish and fish. The dial is blue lacquered and the gold is engraved using the champlevé technique. The fish and starfish are reproduced in turquoise, while the coral and mother-of-pearl are shaped and inlaid. Finely engraved using the champlevé technique, the coral motifs are set with 23 brilliant-cut diamonds.
IL GIARDINO NOTTURNO
A garden in which the night sky reveals a stylised “beauty of the night”, also known as a “moonflower”, which was already used in mother-of-pearl marquetry to decorate a piece of BVLGARI jewellery in the 1970s. A dial whose complexity expresses the different elements of which the décor of each of these three versions consists. A dial architecture built on four levels and evoking the four elements.
FIRE: The Maison reveals the fascinating character and spangled look of aventurine glass, an art dating back to the 17th century. This intense blue material, dotted with copper inclusions, is studded with eight diamond stars.
EARTH: The moonflowers are engraved using the champlevé technique, gemset, polished and rhodium-plated. The marquetry specialist then sets white and Tahitian mother-of-pearl inserts into the heart of engraved petals.
AIR: The movement with its moon phase consists of an aventurine disc adorned with two engraved and polished gold moons.
WATER: The waves are engraved in mother-of-pearl. To obtain the required shades of blue, black varnish is applied under white mother-of-pearl. It is the subsequent different thicknesses of mother-of-pearl that cause the variations in the intensity of the blue. The mother-of-pearl is polished to give it maximum shine.
UNDER THE MOON, TIME TICKS AWAY
The mechanical self-winding movement is the BVLGARI Solotempo BVL 210 Manufacture movement equipped with an astronomical moon phase, which needs to be adjusted by one day every 122 years. This has a 42-hour power reserve and is water-resistant to 30 metres.
The lunar disc consists of two moons made of diamond polished gold, engraved with décor that reproduces the rough surface of the moon.
Through its timepieces, the Maison BVLGARI reveals the passion of men and women who play the artistic crafts
Perfect mastery of specific gestures meets a deep-felt sense of artistry. The field of expression of these techniques is every bit as vast as the range of available ideas and materials.