The House of BULGARI unveils COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE, a limited edition grand complication timepiece equipped with a cathedral gong minute repeater and a beautiful automata inspired by Italy’s theatrical history of the 16th century when gregarious masked types of characters performed a nomadic, outdoor form of Improvisation. The three most famous and iconic characters of this tradition – Brighella, Pulcinella and Harlequin – occupy the center of the dial of this unique timepiece. When the cathedral gong minute repeater is activated, these figures come alive against a highly sophisticated backdrop, a representation of an Italian Palazzo. Depending on the scene, between five and seven mobile components animate the figures.
Bulgari is a major player in the manufacturing of highly complex striking watches including those equipped with multiple hammers. For this timepiece, Bulgari chose a cathedral gong minute repeater with two hammers, which are unique and different from standard ones as they are longer and the steel wire wraps around inside the case twice instead of just once. This generates a deeper sound and amplifies the resonance of the mechanism.
This fascinating minute repeater mechanism is brilliantly paired with the automata with great watchmaking craftsmanship thus to produce the sound with the animations that bring a complex scene to life on each of the three different dials. The gong mechanism chimes the hours, quarter hours and minutes on demand in different tones, animating the different figures on the dial each time.
Brighella, Pulcinella and Harlequin appear on each dial executions: this organically living masterpiece stages them in a predefined choreography. Like a ballet, in which they each sing and play a musical instrument.
As soon as the chime sounds, the central figure moves his or her arm before the other four characters in turn begin moving counter clockwise, foot, arm, chest, head and so on. These multiple moving components make the scene particularly rich and vibrant, a rare feat in contemporary automata, against a backdrop of a 16th century Italian palace.
The exquisite dials that represent different scenes are crafted in 18k gold discs combining several artisanal techniques such as miniature painting, engraving and chasing.
The three scenes depicting three different cities – Venice, Naples and Bologna -pay a brilliant tribute to the tradition of automata. The complex execution of the dial is carried out by Ateliers Vaucher in Geneva. The first step is the engraving which is carried out in a painstaking process. The craftsman shapes the components of the scenes in 18k gold. The effects of relief, depth and volume are achieved by engraving and trompe l’oeil painting. Each dial has four levels that feature the central character, the appliqué slide characters, the foreground decor and the back ground décor. The highly technical lifelike figures, crafted using complex methods, are affixed to the dial in an ingenious manner with the bottom sections held in place by legs or pivots, where as the hour markers are suspended without touching the dial between 7o’clock and 11o’clock.The miniature painting, also a painstaking process, using a dozen of basic colours took three to five weeks in order to complete the entire scenes.
This complex automata mechanism is powered with a hand finished caliber BVL 618. In addition to the automaton, it includes a cathedral gong minute repeater with a jumping hour display at 6’o clock. This ingenious mechanism is housed in a case crafted from 18k white gold and Magsonic, a special alloy that optimizes the resonance of the piece. The minute repeater slide piece is located at 10’o clock. Each of the three versions is engraved with the name of the central characters on the dial: Brighella, pulcinella and Harlequin. The COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE series is a numbered, limited edition consisting of eight pieces each.
BVL 618, finely crafted mechanical hand wound caliber
Retrograde minutes between 7 and 11’o clock shown by the right arm of the automaton
Black bridges and circular grained base plate
Polished hammers and index assemble
36 mm in diameter/11.00 mm thick
48 hour power reserve
Minute repeater with cathedral gongs + five automaton figures that spring in to the motion when the watch strikes
Set of three executions each issued in an eight piece limited edition
18k white gold and Magsonic with a transparent sapphire crystal back
Minute repeater slide piece at 10 o’clock
Numbered 18k white gold crown
54 mm in diameter/16.36mm thick
Water resistance: 30 meters
18k white gold engraved, chased and entirely hand painted, scenes depicting a classical 16th century Italian palazzo
Alligator leather strap, 18k white gold triple blade folding clasp