BASEL, Switzerland — You can’t be too rich or too thin, and Bulgari clearly has the rich part down, as evidenced by glimmering signature pieces like its Serpenti Secret high jewelry watch for women, a diamond-encrusted snake in 18-karat white gold that sinfully envelops the wrist like the serpent in the Garden of Eden (priced only upon request).
And now, with its men’s watch line, the venerable Roman maison is making impressive strides on the “thin” front.
At a star-studded news conference at the Baselworld watch fair that featured the Spanish model Jon Kortajarena and Kris Wu (China’s answer to Justin Bieber), Bulgari unveiled the Octo Finissimo Automatic, the brand’s latest work of wrist sculpture, which sets a record for the thinnest self-winding mechanical watch on the market. The case is a mere 5.15 millimeters thick (the movement itself is cut even thinner, at 2.23 millimeters).
“It’s really like a coin,” said Jean-Christophe Babin, the chief executive of Bulgari.
Indeed, Bulgari has made a statement in the world of haute horology by sending its premium men’s line on a crash diet. It’s one way to stand out in a crowded field.
“When you are a jeweler like Bulgari, you are really having to think about which way are you relevant to men,” Mr. Babin said. “As a jeweler, you defer to ladies by creating the ultimate elegance with metals, with stones. When you apply elegance to men, it’s all about slimness, the slim fit, which is a mark of Italian design.”
Like the sprinter Usain Bolt, Bulgari does not seem content to tally records in a single category.
In 2014, the company released the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, billed as the thinnest tourbillon watch ever with a movement that is 1.95 millimeters (a tourbillon, a prized watch complication, is a tiny rotating cage that helps fight the effects of gravity on a mechanical watch…