On the flip side, almost two millennia of history; on the front side, an extremely contemporary mechanism. A pair of extraordinary and indeed unique creations combining Fine Watchmaking, High Jewellery and rare currency. Two secret watches – an Octo and a High Jewellery pendant watch – interpreting Bulgari’s cherished Monete theme. More than mere timepieces, both are objects distilling and conveying the history of Rome, from Antiquity to the present day, playing with symbols, merging improbable elements and transforming them into a certainty... They tell a singular story: that of Bulgari and its roots deeply embedded in classical Greek tradition associated with Roman culture.
Ancient Greek and Roman coins are one of the powerful hallmarks of the Rome-based jeweller. In the 1960s, the Maison began incorporating within its jewellery creations these witnesses to history, objects of culture and eternity. The collection named Monete has been interpreted through the decades in a unique manner symbolising the quintessence of the spirit pervading Bulgari: daring to do the unexpected, to go where others will not venture, as well as affirming the Maison’s enduring ties with its deepest and most ancient sources.
Unique narrative objects
This approach informs the use of Greek and Roman coins in the process of contemporary jewellery creation, which has become a House signature. Each with its own history, distinctive affirmations of power and authority, the coins struck by the Roman emperors remain unique narrative objects which are, in each on their way, capable of retracing entire chapters of ancient and modern history.
The choice of coins used by Bulgari is always determined by rarity and relevance. Each conveys historical meaning, recounts an epic saga. From a purely creative standpoint, they have enabled Bulgari to explore new frontiers, to chart new aesthetic territory, to resort to unusual combinations of materials, and to associate them with modern jewellery techniques while being sure to highlight the unique patina of each coin. This fundamental theme is now extended with these two standout creations paying tribute to one of the most undisputed emblems of the Maison, symbolising magnificence and opulence.
A symbolic line
Octo Monete is a wristwatch whose cover is none other than an ultra-rare 4th century Roman coin struck to mark the 20-year reign of Constantinus Augustus (301-336 PC). It opens to reveal the world’s thinnest Finissimo Tourbillon movement in its openworked version. Above and beyond the complexity involved in devising the opening system activated by pressing the crown, and in fitting the coin onto the watch bezel, Octo Monete draws a symbolic line between the power of an octagonal design and the architectural heritage bequeathed by the emperor
Constantine the Great, to whom we owe the distinctive construction of the the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome with its octagonal ceiling coffers.
The likewise octagonal-shaped Monete pendant watch picks up the aesthetic and creative theme in a resolutely jewellery-oriented approach. The cover of this “secret” watch is topped by a tetradrachm depicting Alexander Magnus (336-326 B.C), King of Macedonia and conqueror of the Persian Empire, which opens to reveal an entirely skeletonised gold tourbillon movement. The latter is protected by an octagonal case forming the pendant, crafted in 18kt pink gold and set with diamonds and rubies. The pendant is suspended from a solid 90- centimetre gold chain featuring geometrical links set with diamonds and rubies.
These two one-of-a-kind creations pay tribute to the custom adopted by Romans, from the third century A.D. onwards, of wearing ornaments composed of gold coins celebrating the artistic work done on precious metal. From Antiquity to the 21st century, the language of symbols has remained universal and unchanging, the better to transcend time.