These days, when one thinks of Bulgari watches, it’s often the ultra-thin, multi- record-breaking Octo Finissimo that comes to mind. However, the brand’s latest collaboration with Hiroshi Fujiwara of Fragment Design brings the spotlight back to its Bulgari Bulgari model, especially for the many fans of streetwear out there who cannot get enough of his designs for brands such as Nike, Louis Vuitton and Moncler.
Last year, the brand began its partnership with Fujiwara, who is also a horology enthusiast. As with many covetable Japanese collaborations, the first Bulgari Bulgari Fragment was available only in Japan as a 250-piece limited edition. The Bulgari Bulgari watch is distinguished by its double-inscribed Bulgari logo on the bezel, and is the brand’s first serially produced timepiece for men that is also the descendant of a gold digital watch gifted to 100 clients in 1975. Instead of adding bells and whistles, Fujiwara updated the watch by removing its numerals and indexes, bringing the focus back to the bezel, which is engraved with the Bulgari and Fragment logos. Via e-mail, Fujiwara explains: “The biggest reason is that I wanted to do something different. I wanted to make something simple, minimalist and unlike anything Bulgari had done before.”
The first Bulgari Bulgari Fragment had a 41mm steel case with a matte, sandblasted finish that, combined with the black dial and Nato strap, fit right in with contemporary streetwear. Launched this month, the latest version features a polished steel case (“to better bring out a vintage feel”) and a black lacquered dial with a grained finish, along with two Nato strap options – black or blue, grey and black. It is available in a limited run of 600 pieces.
Working with the Bulgari Bulgari model was a natural choice for Fujiwara, a vintage watch fan. He says, “I remember seeing the Bulgari Bulgari in the ’90s. The engraved logos on the bezel made a big impression on me.” In an interview with watch blog Hodinkee, Fujiwara mentions that the watch was a common sight on the wrists of the affluent during the Japanese economic bubble of the 1980s and 1990s. The Bulgari Bulgari Fragment’s stripped- down style is his way of overturning those associations of overt luxury.
Bulgari Watches is the third LVMH-owned watch brand he has styled; Zenith and Tag Heuer also received the Fragment treatment. Though Fujiwara is best known for his fashion partnerships, his work with luxury timepieces has been well-received by watch enthusiasts, who have praised his attention to brand heritage and proportions when reworking models such as the Tag Heuer Carrera.
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THE MEANING OF THINGS
To Fujiwara, a timepiece’s “background and history” are more compelling than its technical features. Last month, Sotheby’s sold three watches from his personal collection, including two Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronographs from the 2000s and a Rolex GMT-Master from 1958 with the historically significant Tiffany & Co. logo on their dials.
He says, “Nowadays, you may not even use a watch to check the time. A watch is no longer just a tool for telling the time but is something that completes one’s style.” As a cultural influencer, way before social media, it is perhaps unsurprising that Fujiwara is more attuned than your average person to the meaning of things.
In Japan, he is credited for popularising hip-hop in the country in the 1980s and pioneering its massive streetwear scene. In 2003, after running his own successful streetwear label and store, he started Fragment Design as a company that specialises in collaborations – the very element that has become a key driver in fashion and luxury today.
Explaining what he hopes to achieve when he teams up with a brand, Fujiwara muses, “In my creations, I want to capture a sense of the brand, its history and its technology. I think it’s best to make use of the strengths of your collaborator to achieve things you can’t do on your own. I work from this perspective, regardless of the item.”
This article originally appeared in thepeakmagazine.com