Bulgari CEO Says “Intelligent” Watch is Timeless
One maker of luxury watches whose bottom line isn’t likely be dented by the entrance of the Apple Watch and other wearable devices is Bulgari, one of the most legendary names in fine timepieces and jewelry. Bulgari has gotten the jump on the high-end competition by showing off an “intelligent” watch concept at this year’s Baselworld, the Diagono Magnesium. This item incorporates NFC technology and a smartphone application into a fine luxury watch.
Maybe that’s why Bulgari chief executive Jean-Christophe Babin sounds so confident about the future of traditional timepieces in the age of high tech. “As Bulgari, we don’t feel a threat from the Apple Watch,” he said in an interview. “The entry of Apple will create a new market. I’m not sure it will compete against the existing luxury watch market, except perhaps for the low end.”
Unlike the tech geeks at Apple, Babin recognizes that planned obsolescence has no place in a luxury watch. That’s why the Diagono Magnesium will be different from standard smartwatches. “I think it’s the affirmation that there’s no contradiction nowadays between true luxury craftsmanship and the integration of some technologies, as long as they don’t jeopardize the integrity of the craftsmanship and that they are real and valuable for the consumer.”
Babin explained Bulgari’s unique approach to upgrades. “We have moved out of the watch, and into the application, all of the potential obsolescence issues. In a normal smartwatch, after two years you have generation two and after three years generation three. This is the story with the iPhone, so it will be the same with the Apple Watches.
“In our case there is no risk of obsolescence because the chip doesn’t need any upgrade; what does need an upgrade is the app. With luxury you cannot accept obsolescence. On the contrary, luxury has to be timeless.”