Ultra Rare Bulgari Tourbillon watch series Saphir Lyon has always been my favorite, because very few people would ever guess from what they watch, but a niche luxury watch brands – not to mention an important players like Bulgari. Nevertheless, this unique flavor part sometimes underestimated watchmaker is much too weird clockwork simply named Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir Lyon. In this article, we look at two Tourbillon Saphir Lyon models include Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir Ultranero and Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir 18K rose gold. It should not have said that these watches are a part of each limited edition.
Where did this odd case design come from? The former Gerald Genta brand, of course – where else? The basic case design was released back in the wild times of 2009 as the Gerald Genta Arena Metasonic Sonnerie. During the financial crisis, Bulgari decided to absorb the Gerald Genta brand (that it owned) into the Bulgari brand and this Arena Metasonic was lightly transformed in the Bulgari Magsonic Grande Sonnerie (hands-on here). These vastly complicated watches include tourbillons and complex chiming functions.
Complicated and extremely expensive, Bulgari might still produce a few of those here and there, but the unique case design was later adopted for the Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir collection. The biggest shame is that Bulgari has not come up with a special name to designate this particular case shape. “Tourbillon sapphire” literally just refers to the fact that the movement has a tourbillon as well as sapphire crystal bridges. The watch case is highly distinctive but is clearly suffering an identity crisis without a proper name.
I’ll get back to the case shortly, but let’s talk about the movement, for now, which is pretty cool in terms of how it is designed and constructed. As you can see, Bulgari went with a skeletonized theme that further uses transparent sapphire crystal plates. The result offers a lot more depth than traditional skeletonized movements and is nevertheless “see-through.” The movement is the in-house-made caliber GG 8000. It is manually wound with 70 hours of power reserve operating at 21,600 bph (3Hz). The movement is honestly amazing to look at and features just the time with hours and minutes as well as a tourbillon (that doubles as the seconds hand).
Look at that interesting style of crown. It literally has spokes coming out of it. While the Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir case doesn’t per se do anything strange, it does have an extremely unorthodox look to it. I believe the design inspiration behind the case was music drums (like a snare drum) – which explains the external connection points for the screws and the columns through the side of the case.
Sized large, the case is 53mm wide, but wears surprisingly comfortably. The one-piece lug structure seems to help comfort on the the wrist… but have no doubt that this is a very avant-garde (and loud) watch case design. In addition to the 18k rose gold version of the Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir, we also have the Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir Ultranero which comes in a black DLC-coated titanium case. This latter version is perhaps the best one to enjoy the most peculiar feature of the Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir – rods of luminant in the case construction.
You can call this a “club” watch. What does that mean? Well, the Europeans like to refer to showy things that glow in the dark as “club” items, and yet that even applies to high-end luxury timepieces that cost more than the car you drove to the club in. The columns of Super-LumiNova in the case are visible through the sides since they are sapphire crystal as well. The result is a very unique viewing experience where the inner part of the dial on the sides as well as the side of the case glows in the dark. The columns also make up the watch’s flange ring hour markers. I just think it is all very cool and excitingly unnecessary for any timepiece (which is why we love this stuff so much).
In some instances, less is more because I’ve given you most of the pertinent details about the Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir timepiece collection. The rest is a visual takeaway in simply seeing the watch in the flesh and on the wrist. While, arguably, not many will be dedicating their first CHF200,000 watch purchase to something like this, if I had the chance and that money was relatively liquid for me, I would probably pick one of these up… because, why not? The Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir in 18k rose gold is a limited edition of 25 pieces while the Bulgari Tourbillon Saphir Ultranero in DLC titanium is a limited edition of 30 pieces.