The Roman house of Bulgari, founded in 1884, has an almost fairy-tale-like history. With its boutique just minutes from the famed Spanish Steps, this brand was a favorite of celebrities who traveled to Europe for films. Among them: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and others. From jewelry, the house turned its sites to watchmaking and established its workshops in Switzerland. Its watchmaking expertise runs the gamut from grand complications, record-setting Octo watches, magnificent high-jeweled watches and the iconic Serpenti (snake-head) watches.
Bulgari is an Italian luxury house founded in 1884 by Greek silversmith Sotirio Bulgari in Epirus, Greece, as a single jewelry shop. Globally renowned for its creativity and excellence, Bulgari is one of the leading brands in its sector and has strong leadership positions in the jewelry and watch segments.
From the company’s foundation in 1884 until the 1970s, Bulgari developed as a luxury brand in jewelry, famous for its precious metal wearables, angular shapes, vibrant colors, and oval elements with their cabochon cut (gemstone) innovation. Bulgari launched its first bracelet watch in the 1940s, called ‘Serpenti Bracelet watches.’ In 1977, Gianni Bulgari (grandson of Sotirio Bulgari) introduced the BVLGARI BVLGARI watch, which marked the brand’s official entry into the world of horology.
For the production of Bulgari watches, Bulgari established its Swiss subsidiary company Bulgari Haute Horlogerie SA in 1980. Following the establishment of Bulgari Haute Horlogerie SA, Bulgari watches quickly gained popularity for their high jewelry luxury timepieces and combination of Italian designs and Swiss watchmaking.
The Bulgari Group acquired many luxury watchmaking brands specializing in watchmaking in the twenty-first century, including Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta. In 2011, the Bulgari family joined with LVMH to strengthen the development of the Bulgari Group in keeping with its history, values, craftsmanship, identity, and long-term goals.
Although Bvlgari handles most of the design, manufacturing, and marketing on its own, it occasionally partners with other companies/individuals to offer its customers innovative and unique products. For example, in November 2021, Bvlgari launched the luxury jewelry watch LM FlyingT ‘Allegra’ in collaboration with MB&F. Bvlgari’s aesthetics, cabochon gems, and MB&F’s futuristic machinery were the highlights of this watch. In July 2021, Bvlgari launched its watch titled Bvlgari Aluminium Steve Aoki Special Edition, collaborating with Aoki.
The brand partnered with Save The Children in 2009, India’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children’s rights. Bvlgari introduced silver and onyx pendants decorated with precious rubies in conjunction with the collaboration. The partnership entailed donating part of the sales earnings to the NGO, resulting in 80 million USD collected in 2018.
LVMH – Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton owns Bulgari, commonly known as the LVMH Group, acquired Bulgari from the Bulgari family in 2011. According to the terms of the agreement, Bulgari S.p.A. shares were transferred to LVMH for $6.0 billion (€4.3 billion), more than LVMH had offered for any other company. By selling their controlling stake, the Bulgari family acquired 3 % of LVMH, making them the second-largest family shareholder behind the Arnaults in LVMH.
Why is the Bulgari name seen as both Bulgari and Bvlgari? Bulgari is the phonetic spelling of the founder’s last name Voulgaris, as it is spelled in Italian. BVLGARI is the company logo where the letter “U” is replaced by the letter “V,” as in the classic Roman alphabet. The logo was introduced in 1934.