Hands-On: Bvlgari Aluminum Chronograph — For Millennials
This isn’t exactly a new watch. Bvlgari introduced it as the Diagono in 1998, an aluminum watch with a quartz movement. Later on, more models were added, including chronographs with automatic movements.
Late last August, in Geneva, Bvlgari introduced the Bvlgari Aluminium chronograph reference 103383. Just a few days before, Bvlgari gave me the Aluminium chronograph to wear. I have been wearing this watch on and off, and today I am sharing my thoughts about this watch with you. Let’s have a closer look at this watch, meant for millennials (as can be seen in this video).
Bvlgari Aluminium chronograph
On the one hand, Bvlgari being so clear about its target audience rules me out for this watch. I was born in 1977, so in 1998 I was 21 and perhaps as old as today’s youngest millennial. But what about those people who always had a weak spot for this watch, couldn’t afford it in the 1990s, and now have some money at hand to fulfill their dreams? I also don’t belong in that category, but I can imagine this watch speaks to a wider audience than just millennials. Perhaps I shouldn’t take such things very literally, but when a brand is so strong in getting this message across, I want to test it.
The Bvlgari Aluminium chronograph is presented in an aluminum box. It looks a bit like the box of a nice pencil, with the watch laying inside when you open it, and there’s a little envelope with a warranty card and code you can scan. This code will lead you to the digital manuals of the watch. However, I do miss the good old instruction leaflet. It is nice to have something tangible. The case of the watch is made of aluminum, has a rubber bezel, and titanium pushers and crown. The case back is also made of titanium. All titanium parts have received a DLC treatment, turning them black. I wonder how the aluminum case will keep over time. Based on some images of pre-owned aluminum Bvlgari Diagono models from the past, dents and scratches are very much visible.
Bvlgari also introduced a few time-only models of this watch, that basically share the same case. A 40mm aluminum case with titanium elements. And, of course, a rubber bezel that has “Bvlgari Bvlgari” incised. The lugs appear to be short, but don’t forget about the small “extension”. The lug-to-lug size is therefore approximately 48mm. However, due to the design, the watch will not appear very large on a wrist. There’s a crown guard but the rectangular pushers are not protected by any guards. The thickness of the case is approx. 11mm, which makes it a very comfortable watch to wear. As you can see, the strap is attached to the case with screws.
The main attraction of this watch is not the material, but the dial combined with the black “Bvlgari Bvlgari” bezel. I love the panda dial. As you can see, the color of the dial is creamy, certainly not white. The black hour and minute hands give a nice contrast as do the small white hands on the black sub-dials. The date is at 4.30 as you can see. Some hate it, I happen to like it. But I can very well do without a date. Regular Fratello readers might know this because of my previous rants. The chronograph second hand has a red tip, which brings some color to the entire ensemble. Just to be sure, Bvlgari printed “Aluminium” on the dial as well. Which also happens to be the model name, of course.
The strap is made of rubber, and on each side, you will find two hinges with aluminum centerpieces visible. On the first part of the strap, on both sides, you will find “Bvlgari” embossed. The strap is a bit stiff where the hinges are, but the longer pieces of rubber are very flexible and comfortable. As you can imagine, due to the attachment system, you can’t just put another strap on the Bvlgari Aluminium chronograph. That’s not a sin, of course, as the design of this watch begs for the original rubber strap. But just so you know.
The strap has a normal buckle, made of aluminum, and again you will find the “Bvlgari” brand name prominently visible. Together with the black rubber bezel, the DLCed pushers and crown, and of course the black hands and subdials, it is a nice looking design.
As written above, the caseback is made of titanium (with DLC treatment). It shows some relevant and less relevant information, but at least indicates its water resistance. Which I find pretty useful. Especially when you have a few watches in your collection, it is nice to have a little reminder before you take a jump into the pool. The caseback is a snapback and hides the Bvlgari BVL130 movement. A self-winding chronograph movement, based on ETA’s 2894 movement. It has a power reserve of 42 hours, and ticks at 28800vph.
I removed the case back (easy), to take a closer look at the movement. Perlage decoration on the main plate and Côtes de Geneve on the rotor. Bvlgari has also been engraved in the rotor. It is a no-nonsense chronograph movement. The four holes you see aren’t empty, with a loupe I can see that each of them has a screw inside. These screws hold the rubber bezel in place.
On the wrist and some thoughts
When I put the Bvlgari Aluminium chronograph on the wrist, it feels light, comfortable and it is very easily readable (let’s not forget about these things). The hands give a proper contrast, and you can quickly read the time and date. Operating the chronograph is something I have to comment on. The start/stop pusher needs a lot of force, so much, that it doesn’t feel very natural. Michael Stockton likes to use the phrase “action on the pushers”, and compared to any of my other chronographs it simply has too much resistance. I have the Bvlgari Aluminium chronograph on my desk today, as well as a Valjoux 7750 based caliber, and that’s quite a different world when it comes to starting the chronograph. I don’t know whether it is the movement (I don’t have another watch with an ETA2984 base chronograph), or the construction of the pusher, but it needs too much force in my opinion.
This watch has a lot of “Bvlgari” going on. I am not talking about the brand’s DNA or concept, but it has “Bvlgari” on every part. It is of course part of the DNA to have “Bvlgari Bvlgari” on the bezel, but you will also find it on the rubber strap (twice), the dial, the buckle, case back, etc. A lot of “logo-ing” or branding, as you wish. It is part of the watch, its heritage, and perhaps also part of the attraction in this particular Bvlgari Aluminium collection. If I look at the watch as an object, one that I study for writing this review, it feels a bit too much like a “designers” watch because of all the branding. In a good way though. Rather more “Stone Island” or “CP Company” than “Camp David” or “La Martina”. When it is on my wrist, I like its looks. It was one of the first watches I brought home that my wife actually commented on (in a positive way as well). The Bvlgari Aluminium Chronograph seems to do something interesting on the wrist. It wears and looks (due to the hinges, see in the picture above) like a bracelet, really.
Price and Availability
The retail price on the Bvlgari Aluminium chronograph ref. 103383 is €4,250 (including taxes) and it is only available online. The non-chronograph versions are €2950. While I like the watch: the design, readability, and the materials Bvlgari used, €4,250 is a serious amount of money to spend for most millennials. The watch is well made, feels solid and the movement used is ETA based, but a solid performer. I did raise my concerns on operating the chronograph though. There is a lot of competition in this price bracket, also from big brands producing chronographs. It is the design that sets the Bvlgari Aluminium chronograph apart, that needs to be your motivation. And, perhaps, to desire to be a bit different than the rest.
More information via the Bvlgari website.
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