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For women it’s bags, for men it’s… ‘complication watches’

Men are no longer content with just gem-encrusted dress watches. They want complex mechanical movements to show off to their friends

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LIMITED-EDITION Sotirio Bulgari Annual Calendar inscribed with “No. 122/250” as its identifier

An ordinary woman will probably never understand men’s fascination with complication watches, in the same way that an ordinary man will never fathom women’s obsession with designer bags.

Feel free to call that woman a heathen, gentlemen. When she’s thrown in a room lined with a dozen or so pedestals, set atop of which are, to her, just men’s watches, pardon her incredulity when she’s told that at least one of those watches costs as much as an SUV. She’ll call it even the next time her man asks why her purse costs as much as a four-wheel drive.

But these purse-loving women and complication-watch-collecting men can coexist, if the attendance at the recent presentation of Bulgari’s latest collection of complication watches was any indication.

ELLA Lontoc, Victor Aliwalas

There’s, indeed, a growing tribe of moneyed watch connoisseurs in the country, and their wives and lady friends were along for the ride that evening as they perused potential additions to their toy, er, watch collections.

While some women are trying to outdo one another with their exotic-leather purses, their male counterparts are also no longer content with multimillion-peso gem-encrusted dress watches. They want their timepieces to feature fancy, complex mechanical movements, one to wind and marvel at and, ultimately, to show off to their friends.

A watch, for these connoisseurs, is something that doesn’t simply tell time. It’s also not just about aesthetics, though that’s also a prime criteria. Often it’s about the “power reserve indicator,” the “retrograde,” the “moonphase,” the “tourbillion,” the “jumping hours,” and other technical jargon that would surely send their wives yawning.

Limited edition

BULGARI country head Mario Katigbak, Peninsula’s Stephanie Chong and Arthur Young Jr.

At the Bulgari presentation, the most precious piece, at P2.1 million, was the Sotirio Bulgari Annual Calendar in rose gold. It’s a limited-edition watch with only 250 pieces per color (white gold, yellow gold and rose gold); that one was engraved with the number “122/250” as its identifier.

Said watch has a 55-hour power reserve and consists of 360 pieces, and an alligator strap. It comes on the heels of the Sotirio Bulgari Commemorative Watch, which was released on the Italian watchmaker and jeweler’s 125th anniversary; Sotirio Bulgari is the company’s founder. It was also a limited edition with only 125 pieces per color. In the Philippines, one piece in white gold was sold, according to Bulgari.

Apart from the complications, the limited-edition tag adds to the appeal of these watches.

“Knowing that there are only a few other people in the world who have the same watch as you do makes it all the more special,” says Angelina Legaspi of Bulgari. “Each limited piece we have is especially engraved with an identifier to note how many pieces are produced, and what specific number that watch is.”

SOTIRIO Bulgari Annual Calendar

The complication watch market is growing steadily, Legaspi adds. “For watch enthusiasts, they go for complications such as jumping hour or retrograde, whereas others opt for models that are more familiar to them such as the chrono.”

Bold casing

At the recent presentation, it was the Gerald Genta Octo Bi-Retro that drew the most interest among Bulgari’s loyal clients. It features jumping hours, retrograde minutes and date, and a 45-hour power reserve. It’s encased in a bold octagonal stainless steel with an alligator strap. The price tag: a high six figures.

DIAGONO X-Pro

Bulgari also highlighted the Diagono X-Pro, the latest piece in the collection. “It’s one of the more unique pieces, both for its looks and functions,” says Legaspi. It has integrated chronograph with column wheel and GMT three time zones. It has a rubber and steel bracelet, and a stainless steel, titanium and black steel transparent case back—the better to see the internal beauty of this big boy’s toy.

And, in case the wife is wondering, she ought not worry as it costs not as much as her Serpenti jewelry watch.


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