High Jewelery Serpenti Misteriosi Bulgari: a precious snake that Cleopatra would have adored
Jewelry watches, especially fine jewelry models, rarely become icons. Their production numbers are often so limited, with many of them one-offs, that they simply don’t get enough attention to achieve that coveted status.
In the past, a brand could make a strong impression by combining exquisite gem-setting craftsmanship with a dazzling price, like Vacheron Constantin in 1979 with the Kallista, which cost five million dollars at the time of its creation. These days, several brands are selling multi-million dollar diamond creations, many of which are based on already existing designs without an abundance of gemstones.
And this is the second reason why many of them are forgotten by the general public: the regular model becomes the icon, while its high jewelry brother is quickly forgotten.
Bulgari Serpenti: the perfect pet snake
Exceptions to these rules are rare, but the Bulgari Serpenti is one. This very cleverly crafted and beautifully crafted companion snake for the wrist dissolved the line between jewelry and timepiece, winning the heart of famous actress Elizabeth Taylor along the way. These two aspects combined already offered a promising start for the timepiece, but Bulgari also carefully nurtured this collection in the decades to come. As the Serpenti is unique and charismatic, it is a watch that people remember, a rarity for a gem-set watch that has helped become an icon.
Since 2017, each edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) has included a Bulgari Serpenti among the preselected watches in the Jewelery category, each year with a different model. It is a stunning achievement and further testament to the grandeur of the Bulgari Serpenti.
The downside to this collection, especially models like Haute Joaillerie Serpenti Misteriosi, is that they are so rare and precious that few people can see them, let alone handle them. We at Quill & Pad were lucky enough to be among the latter earlier this year in Geneva.
Serpenti Misteriosi: hard to describe
The Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewelery is a hard watch to describe because it is so much more than the sum of its parts. Although it is made of precious metals and stones, it seems that it could come to life at any time. “The Animal” is designed so organically and three-dimensionally that it really takes on character.
This particular version combines a rose gold body with scales set with diamonds and turquoise. Two pear-cut rubellites give the serpent a mighty stare, but those who dare should press its tongue. This opens the head, revealing a pavé setting of colorless diamonds as well as a small dial on which two blued hands give the time.
Micro movement: Caliber Bulgari BVL 100 Piccolissimo
This ingenuity goes even further since the watch is inserted in a removable case that can be removed from the mouth of the Serpenti, which facilitates winding, adjustment and maintenance. This is not a typo: you have to wind the mechanical movement.
Bulgari has chosen to equip the watch with its exclusive BVL 100 Piccolissimo caliber. It is one of the smallest mechanical movements in production with a diameter of just 12.3mm, a height of just 2.5mm and a total weight of just 1.3 grams. Although less obvious from a technical point of view, this is just as impressive as the brand’s ultra-thin creations in the Octo Finissimo collection.
Bulgari has played with various aspects to keep the movement as small as possible in all dimensions, but at the same time it is a solid performer. The same goes for the tiny balance wheel, whose inertia is guaranteed by the heavy white gold from which it is made. Bulgari even finished the movement to a high degree.
Such a movement elevates all of creation to an even higher level, making it precious inside and out. This refined approach is why the Serpenti collection is the exception to the rule and so much more than the sum of all its diamonds.
For more information, visit www.bulgari.com/en-int/watches/womens/serpenti-secret-watch-rose-gold-pink.
In brief Bulgari Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewelery
Case: 40 mm, pink gold with strap set with turquoise inserts and brilliant-cut diamonds, two pear-shaped rubellites as eyes, pavé-set with diamonds inside the mouth, including the watch dial ; total 18.05 carats
Movement: hand-wound BVL 100 Piccolissimo calibre, 3 Hz/21,600 vph, 30-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: CHF 246,000 (VAT included)
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