Unique watches feature rare coins, Big Ben chime

Bulgari is not just about jewellery for women.

Tucked into a nook at the brand's regional high jewellery show in Bhutan is a row of displays highlighting its men's watch collection.

Mr Andrea Granalli, Bulgari's high-end watches director, says the brand's antique coin watch has created a niche luxury market.

Inspired by the Monete line for women, which incorporated antique coins in high-end jewellery, the men's watch version features antique Roman coins, set seamlessly into a brushed platinum bezel that flips open to reveal a modern watch hidden beneath.

Mr Granalli says, as he shows off the piece on display which features a 4th-century AD Roman coin with an image of the emperor Constans Augustus: "Silver coins of this size are typical of the late Roman empire. They're about 32mm in diameter."

Price is on inquiry.

The watches are rare as the coins have become increasingly difficult to find. As Mr Granalli says wryly: "Since we started this, we have created a demand.

"First, sourcing of the coin is unpredictable. If you are lucky, you find in two months. Sometimes, you wait a year. We can find a couple of coins a year. The watches can take between six months and a year to complete."

 

In the Bulgari tradition of fine craftsmanship is the Carillon Westminster, so called because the watch chimes in Big Ben fashion to notify its wearer of the hour as well as the quarter- and half-past marks.

"There are 952 components and it takes a year to craft," Mr Granalli says proudly before whipping out a wooden amplifier to show off the music box chimes.

Another technical marvel is the Venetian Player, a watch decorated with the image of a Renaissance-era gambler whose movable arms hold cups that reveal a set of dice. The miniature painting conceals a mechanism that offers more than 500 variations on the dice.