For Its Seductive New Watch, Bulgari Is Taking Inspiration From an Ancient Serpent
The snake motif, which has long been a part of Bulgari's heritage, returns in a new line by the luxury jeweler.
Since the 1940s, Bulgari has used its Serpenti collection as a canvas to express creativity and technical know-how in watchmaking.
The Roman jeweler’s repertoire has been regularly augmented with new Serpenti designs that play on the symbolic significance of the “snake,” a motif originally derived from Greek and Roman mythology, in which the serpent is portrayed as a creature of charm and hypnotic sensuality, and as a symbol of rebirth, transformation, immortality, or healing.
This year, Bulgari has introduced a new model dubbed the Serpenti Seduttori—or the seducer snake(s)—intended to drive the collection into what Bulgari calls “a more mainstream” direction.
“The Seduttori is more than an evolution of the Serpenti, it is a new development celebrating golden moments,” said Bulgari’s chief executive, Jean-Christophe Babin. “It’s born to be gold, but also born to be worn and enjoyed on any occasion, be it casual or formal.”
Bulgari’s creations are often designed to conjure up an authentic Roman feel, one that the Italian jeweler captures by diving into its archives or just peering out its windows onto Via dei Condotti and at the golden facades of the Eternal City where Bulgari has been based since 1884.
If Bulgari has continued to find inspiration in the snake, it is because the motif has lent itself well to both jewelry and watchmaking. The serpent’s inherent duality—the coexistence of good and evil, beauty and danger, poison and antidote—has added to the charm of Bulgari’s designs.
“Current Serpenti lines may be considered somewhat niche,” said a spokesperson for Bulgari. “What we have done this year with the Serpenti Seduttori is make the model more mainstream.”
The new Seduttori watches follow in the tracks of previous creations that have in the past included the Serpenti “Head Over Tail,” where the snake’s head comes to rest on the end of its tail; the Serpenti Tubogas, inspired by Italian gas pipes; or the Serpenti Incantati, where a geometric serpent bites its own tail wrapped around the bezel of a round dial.
This year, Bulgari has brought a touch of innovation to its signature design codes, in hopes of widening the Serpenti Seduttori’s appeal as an elegant yet daily-wear watch.
“At the heart of the Seduttori line is the rose gold watch, the centerpiece of a six-piece collection that now comes with a new case and bracelet,” Bulgari said. “Both were entirely redesigned to be perfectly integrated and sit comfortably on the wrist.”
The uninterrupted pedigree of the Seduttori is evident in the snake’s head, which is derived from the design of the Tubogas, but with a watch case that is now thinner than that of its ancestor.
Besides improving wearability, “thinness” is at the heart of a development strategy at Bulgari (best illustrated by its Octo Finissimo line of watches), which has made the Italian jeweler into an industry leader when it comes to ultra-slim, technically sophisticated watchmaking.
“Though the new Seduttori have all the codes of the Serpenti, we have changed many details, including the bracelet,” Bulgari said.
Bracelets have always been a force at Bulgari. For over half a century, Bulgari’s Serpenti bracelets, in a variety of metal and color combinations, have been produced by the jeweler in its in-house workshops, which excel in creating flexible metal. A good example of their know-how is found in the coiled bracelet of the Serpenti Tubogas, which was originally developed in the 19th century.
The Seduttori’s bracelet, in turn, has been designed in a scale-like pattern as a slinky, articulated jewelry piece that rests softly on the wrist. It has a more figurative aspect than seen at Bulgari before, and comes with a deployment buckle—a more practical feature than previous Serpenti models.
Six variations of the Serpenti Seduttori, ranging from the most basic in rose gold (priced at €22,600) to the fully diamond-paved version in rose (at €88,200), bridge the gap between modern watchmaking and quintessentially Roman jewelry design by Bulgari.
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