Watch brands are not quite so keen on forming long-term partnerships with motorcycle companies as they are with car marques, largely because they tend to be less successful. But a good fit is occasionally found – as seems to be the case between Breitling and Triumph, a collaboration covered last month.
No sooner had the dust settled on that one than another interesting pairing emerged in the form of an alliance between two of Italy’s most recognised brands – jewellery and watch house Bulgari and superbike maker Ducati.
The Bologna-based bike builder has entered into official partnerships with several brands during the past couple of decades, the first being Breil, which backed the Ducati Corse race team during the early 2000s before handing the baton to Tudor in 2011.
As of January 2018, however, the Locman dial name (based on the tiny Italian island of Elba) has held a licensing agreement to produce Ducati-branded wristwatches – so it came as a surprise to be given a sneak preview of this new Bulgari model during a recent trip to Geneva.
That said, it’s almost more surprising that the two names didn’t get together sooner given the fact that Bulgari’s star watch designer, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani (right), rides a Ducati on an almost daily basis and uses the bike as a test-bed for prototypes of the record-breaking, ultra-thin timepieces for which the brand has become famous. “If I can’t wear a watch in normal, everyday life, then what use is it?” he says.
Buonomassa Stigliani studied industrial design in Rome before being taken on at Fiat’s Centro Stilo in Turin – but moved to Bulgari in 2001 when he was 30 years old and has been in charge of its design studio since 2007.
A prolific artist, he starts every new Bulgari watch model with a series of sketches, but the shape of this one dates back to the original Aluminium of 1998 that was relaunched two years ago as an entry-level model.
As the name suggests, aluminium is used both for the main part of the case and the unusual links in the rubber bracelet, although the case back is more resistant titanium.
The dial is, of course, finished in Ducati’s signature rosso shade along with the chronograph indicators and the black-tipped central seconds hand, while the back of the watch is engraved with the Ducati shield and marked with the respective edition number out of a total of 1000 pieces.
According to Buonomassa Stigliani, the collaboration is a one-off and it’s unlikely that further Bulgari/Ducati watches will be made. So collectors, take note.
Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph Ducati Limited Edition, £3930
Nezumi might sound Japanese, but the brand is based in Sweden. All its watches are designed in Stockholm and assembled in Germany, with this tribute to the Ruf CTR ‘Yellowbird’ of 1987 marking a second collaboration with the tuning house. The 40mm chronograph has a tachymeter bezel and perforated ‘rally’ strap, while a Seiko-supplied Mecha-Quartz movement should ensure accuracy. It isn’t available yet but we’re telling you about it because just 400 will be made and the first Nezumi Ruf (edition of 200) sold out in 18 minutes.
Nezumi x Ruf 2.0 ‘Yellowbird’, £400
There is no shortage of options if you’re looking for a motoring-inspired watch from a British-based maker, and now a new dial name has entered the fray – Turismo, which calls itself a micro watch company that ‘coachbuilds’ its timepieces. Its first effort is the Tertre Rouge, which takes inspiration from the right-hander at Le Mans that’s named after the colour of the surrounding soil. The watch is 42mm in diameter and powered by a Swiss Ronda quartz movement.
Turismo Tertre Rouge Chronograph, £895