Even in the world of high jewellery watches, where sparkly showstoppers are par for the course, it’s not every day that you see large, rounded gemstones placed on a watch dial. The simple reason, of course, is that there is usually not enough space under a flat watch glass. Unless, of course, the watch in question is one like the MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT, which recently received a high-jewellery update via a collaboration with Roman jewellery and watchmaking house Bulgari.
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First introduced in 2019, the FlyingT is distinguished by its vertical movement architecture, rising up beneath a tall domed glass that gives the watch an impressive height of 20mm. While the domed glass was used so there would be sufficient space for the vertical movement — topped by a flying tourbillon, no less — as well as a 50 degree-angled dial that allows only the wearer to see the time, we love that Bulgari has decided to use that ample real estate to display several sizeable colourful gemstones as well.
Mind you, it’s not that the FlyingT on its own lacks glamour in any way. Featuring a design inspired by the feminine influences in the life of MB&F founder Max Busser, the 39mm-wide, self-winding timepiece was launched in several diamond-set versions. Later versions include dials in malachite or lapis lazuli. Coupled with its unusual mechanics, it’s little surprise that the watch was awarded the Prix de la Complication pour Dame at the 2019 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve.
Nonetheless, when it comes to glitz, few brands do it as stunningly as Bulgari. The Legacy Machine FlyingT Allegra features a case that has been redesigned by Bulgari so it looks even more rounded and voluminous, with hidden, shorter lugs. Made in white gold (20 pieces) or rose gold (20 pieces), each timepiece includes sizeable tourmaline, tsavorite, diamonds, rubellite, amethyst, tanzanite and topaz, surrounding the movement and set on a dial entirely paved with snow-set diamonds.
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The stones feature a mix of faceted (angled) or cabochon (smooth) finishes — a Bulgari signature also seen on its Allegra Cocktail watches, which were unveiled earlier this year at Watches & Wonders. However, the gemstones on those timepieces were placed around the rim of the watch. That’s beautiful, for sure, but we must confess to being partial to the way the FlyingT Allegra resembles a horological Zen garden artfully and ironically decorated with opulent rocks.