Bulgari unveils “intelligent watch” at Swiss watch and jewellery expo

Luxury jeweler and watchmaker Bulgari unveiled its first “intelligent watch” on Wednesday (March 18) at the Baselworld watch and jewelry show.

The watch, called the Bulgari Diagono Magnesium watch, fitted with a microchip and near field communication (NFC) technology which unlocks doors as well as gives access to confidential information contained in the user’s mobile phone such as passwords and credit card details.

Bulgari CEO, Jean Christophe Babin, insisted the watch is not a smart watch, but will rather offer the wearer a secure way to store personal information.

“It’s a true Swiss watch first, it’s a mechanical manufactured watch and it contains a chip, which is made in Switzerland, which is the ultimate security for watch. What do I mean by that, is that unlike the smart watches, which are relaying mobile phone information, the Bulgari Diagono Magnesium is like a vault on a wrist. Not only does it provide you with the ultimate Swiss precision but at the same time it protects all your personal data, which can be banking data, which can be traveling data, which can be ID, which are data which today are more and more vulnerable that all people really want really to protect,” Babin said.

Babin said Bulgari had entered into a partnership with IPO-candidate Wisekey, an encryption specialist which has rented bunkers deep in the mountains from the Swiss army to stock data.

“WiseKey has developed for Bulgari a specific microchip, which is embedded into the watch, and this is encrypted, and it’s a personal encryption. So each Bulgari owner has a unique encryption number, which will open an application where all the data are stored in an encrypted way and then they can be backed up on a cloud which is also encrypted,” Babin said.

The timepiece works with an application called Bulgari Vault on the mobile phone. The round and light black watch, made from magnesium and ceramic, will cost 5,000-6,000 Euros with the chip (3,900 Euros without) when it hits the shops next year.

Like many of its rivals such as sister watch brand Tag Heuer, Bulgari unveiled its connected watch in an effort to address competition from Apple’s new watch. Many Swiss watch brands are announcing deals with technology companies at Baselworld this week to counter the arrival of Apple in their market.

Roberto Marino, watch business unit marketing director at Bulgari, said he hopes the watch will remain timeless by progressively evolving the technology behind it.

“It’s designed to be 100 percent evaluative. So today we can safely store personal data, and tomorrow we can think to unlock doors, activate alarm systems, enter social networks, being recognized and enter lounges, VIP lounges, we can activate the warranty of the watch, follow the maintenance services of the watch. I mean, the universe is huge, the entire digital universe is huge, all the applications are so vast that it is just the question of to do it, and to do it very soon,” he said.

Bulgari, for which singer and ex-French first lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy is brand ambassador, is the world’s third largest watch and jewelry brand behind Richemont’s Cartier and Tiffany with sales estimated between 1.5 and 2 billion Euros.

Baselworld opened to the public on Thursday and will last through March 26.