Bulgari recently joined forces with the publisher of Gran Turismo, the bestselling video game known for its realistic portrayal of motor racing, in a pop-culture collaboration that diverges from its past partnerships with artists or architects.
The result is the Bulgari Aluminium x Gran Turismo Special Edition that’s based on the brand’s signature rubber-and-aluminium chronograph. And alongside the watches, the collaboration has also spawned the Bulgari Aluminium Vision GT concept car, which is fully playable in the game.
Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bulgari’s Creative Director, has made known his admiration for Japanese arts and culture. This inclination is evident in the brand’s Octo Finissimo collaborations, several of which were collaboration with notable creative personalities from Japan, including architect Tadao Ando. So it’s not a surprise that he has extended the exploration of Japanese culture by calling on the Sony division that created one of the world’s bestselling video game franchises.
The choice of the Aluminium collection as the platform for the special edition is logical, given the sporty nature of the model and the use of aluminium in motor racing. Though the two models retain the same case and bracelet as the standard version, the distinctive feature lies in their racing-inspired dials with contrasting black registers. A tachymetre scale further enhances the racing aesthetic.
The Gran Turismo limited editions are just a cosmetic makeover, which is reflected in the US$4,800 retail price that’s close to that of the standard version. At that price, it is a value proposition, even with a Sellita movement, since comparable chronographs from the likes of Breitling are priced significantly higher.
Beyond the realm of gaming
Conceived by Japanese game designer Kazunori Yamauchi in 1997 for Sony’s Play Station console, Gran Turismo is an acclaimed video game series celebrated for its realistic driving simulation. Its impact extends beyond gaming, with the franchise including annual racing tournaments and a recent film. This is the game franchise’s second watch partnership, with the first having been with TAG Heuer (a sister brand of Bulgari also owned by LVMH).
The Gran Turismo edition represents the newest iterations of Bulgari Aluminium, the brand’s affordable and lightweight watch made from metal and rubber. Introduced in 1998, the collection was relaunched in 2020 with various collaborations on their three-handers, such as one for the Italian airforce and a glow-in-the-dark variant designed with DJ Steve Aoki. Earlier this year, the case size of the Aluminium was slightly increased to 41 mm.
The Gran Turismo edition is available in two variations: the anthracite-dialled ref. 103893 and the bright yellow ref. 104006. Both versions follow the traditional chronograph layout, featuring registers at nine, six, and three, a date between four and five, and a tachymetre scale. The yellow variant is limited to 500 pieces, and the anthracite variant to 1,200 pieces.
The principal difference between the two variants is found in the colour schemes employed on the dials. The anthracite iteration features a brushed finish enhanced by yellow applied hour markers and scales. Conversely, the yellow version showcases a varnished appearance with black hour markers.
The Gran Turismo editions maintain the dimensions of the standard Aluminium Chronograph models with a sandblasted aluminium case measuring 41 mm in diameter and 11.1 mm high. The case has a black rubber bezel, while the crown and case back are titanium treated with DLC coating.
Furthermore, the watches are also equipped with the cal. B381. It’s a Sellita SW300 automatic with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module on top. Despite providing a 42 hour-power reserve, it still offers a higher frequency of 4 Hz.
Key facts and price
Bulgari Aluminium x Gran Turismo Special Edition 2023
Ref. 103893 (anthracite)
Ref. 104006 (yellow)
Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 11.1 mm
Water resistance: 100 m
Movement: Cal. B381
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours
Strap: Rubber link bracelet with pin buckle
Limited edition: 1,700 pieces; Ref. 103893 (1,200 pieces) and Ref. 104006 (500 pieces)
Availability: At Bulgari boutiques and retailers
Price: US$4,800, or 6,790 Singapore dollars
For more information, visit Bulgari.com.