Bulgari present a new piece part of the Bulgari Daniel Roth collection - the Bulgari Grande Lune. The piece features a two-tone dial, part white lacquer and part black satin finished. At the left of the dial is the unique seconds indicator - three arms or hands which spin on an axis, each of which cover 20 seconds. Between 5 and 6 o'clock is the circular date indicator and the moonphase in a crescent-shaped aperture takes the form of a richly golden moon against a starry night sky.
The Bulgari Grande Lune is powered by the Daniel Roth Calibre 2300 movement which is hand finished to an exquisite standard. The moonphase is an extremely accurate one requiring adjustment only once every 125 years. Presented in a 44mm 18 carat rose gold elliptical case, the case shape synonymous with Daniel Roth, the model is fitted with an alligator strap.
When a young man chooses a career path and completes the education required for his chosen trade a few years of "work experience" will generally be required before the individual will feel (if he has the ambition) qualified enough to reach the next stage, owning his own business. Young watchmakers also conform to this genre, after a few years extensive training the decision must be taken, is it enough to continue anonymously creating designs or refining calibre components for your employer's benefit or is it now the time found your own company which will have your own name on the dial and your own signature designs finally showcased as your own creations. The rewards for success are high, industry awards, accolades and respect but the watchmaking business is just that - a business and like any other, profit not praise is the currency needed for survival.
Master Watchmakers are a unique breed, totally focused on pushing the horological boundaries to the limit. Sadly artistic flair and mechanical genius are not often accompanied by business acumen and many of these talented individuals find themselves subject to acquisitions by retail giants. Relinquishment of their family name along with the unique design features perfected over the years must surely be the most pungent of bitter pills to swallow.
In 1989 Daniel Roth set up his own watchmaking business and to house his perfectly finished movements and dials, created the unique and beautiful Double Elipse elongated watchcase. The collections were a success, his reputation established - then his distributing partner, unable to obtain the required bigger slice of the profits, dropped the brand. Enter Singapore retail giant The Hour Glass who then became victims of the Asian crisis and sold in its entirety (the new owners wanted no less than 100%) the Daniel Roth brand. Daniel Roth, the man saw his brand and family name leave his control as the Bulgari luxury goods house assumed ownership.
Earlier this year Bulgari took the decision to integrate the previously independent Daniel Roth brand within the activities of the main watchmaking sector, effectively the end of the Daniel Roth watch, which now becomes the Bulgari Daniel Roth collection and soon many believe will disappear completely. So, should Bulgari be critisized for this latest development? After all the Daniel Roth name has been their property for years. Surely without regular input from its creator the watch collection becomes merely a brand name for a portfolio where only the "spirit" of the creator remains. Perhaps it is true to say that Bulgari who acquired the Roth name to enable them to progress through to the upper echelon of watchmaking have done nothing wrong. Bulgari have certainly remained true to the values instilled by Daniel Roth and the pieces which today bear his name albeit secondary on the dial to that of Bulgari are still examples of fine craftsmanship and innovation.
As I have mentioned, watchmaking is a business, but it is unlike any other. Of course the giants of the industry are needed they provide global distribution and advertising for their brands, some of which will seduce new clients who will become the watch collectors of the future, enticing the next generation to move away from virtual app-style timekeeping will need big names with big budgets, but Independent Watchmaking simply must be preserved. Before the current economic crisis brand names of the past including Bovet, Jean Dunard and Badollet were re-awakened by businessmen and craftsmen intent on preserving names which had became dormant, it is the fear of many that under the umbrella of a major player such as Bulgari, that once a coveted name such as Daniel Roth is gone it will be lost forever.
Daniel Roth, Master Watchmaker resolved never again to be answerable to or controlled by anyone other than himself and now produces a limited number of timepieces each year under the brand name Jean Daniel Nicolas.