At this year’s Baselworld watch and jewelry fair, we got hands-on with Bulgari‘s new smartwatch concept pieces. And while it’s just a concept now (with a superb functional demo model already in existence), the luxury brand plans on taking it to market this fall. The Magnesium collection isn’t the watch you’d expect in the age of the Apple Watch. It’s a self-winding mechanical wristwatch—the type you’d expect from the historic brand. Only, it comes complete with a cryptographic NFC chip, invisible antenna, an accompanying app and an array of services.
Bulgari partnered with data security organization WISekey and the “Bvlgari Vault” was born. Activated by the chip within the Magnesium watch, the vault app can store personal data and passwords, high res images of passports and identification, methods of payment and more—backups of our most important information. And everything entered into the app is encrypted, transmitted and then stored within data centers inside of military protected Swiss bunkers. This is banking-level security, requiring double authentication, and yet is easily accessible for wearers of these watches. Oh, and the watch can also unlock car doors and regular doors (without the app). These are just the debut services, as Bulgari has many more planned for down the line.
As for what makes it a luxury piece, beyond the self-winding movement with a 42-hour power reserve and the fact that it’s entirely Swiss-made, the classic Bulgari design DNA is ever-present. And once again, they wow in the material innovations department. The Magnesium features three materials that are either new or very uncommon in the watch world; the first being magnesium, which is 38% lighter and stronger than aluminum. Due to ease of oxidation, magnesium generally only appears in watches in some form of alloy. Here, however, thanks to a Motorlac coating—used to coat engines in Ferraris and Maseratis, both of whom Bulgari worked with to develop this new feature—the magnesium does not oxidize and corrode. This also allows for the addition of colors: anthracite, brown, silver and blue. It’s a truly avant garde material in the watch world and it sparkles with new life. The Magnesium also employs a special ceramic for its bezel and a brand new polymer for its case.
At 41mm in diameter, the watch is substantial but not oversized. It’s light on the wrist, and no part of it (not even the NFC chip) requires any energy aside from the movement of one’s wrist. It’s a very handsome Swiss mechanical watch that touts functionality that the market hasn’t yet seen.
Bulgari plans to release the Magnesium collection in fall 2015, where it will retail at their entry level price point of around 4000 CHF.
Second image by David Graver, all other images courtesy of Bulgari