The Roman jeweller’s one-of-a-kind Monete timepieces have a rich history – and even richer patrons
Starting in the late Seventies, keen numismatists the Bulgari family worked their passion into their watches. In 2016 the brand responded to a client’s desire to own a haute horlogerie example with the first in a series of one-of-a-kind Monete timepieces, for which the coin is fitted into the cover of a custom-made 44mm Octo Roma platinum case housing Bulgari’s award-winning Finissimo hand-wound skeleton tourbillon movement. With a single example taking a year to source and assemble, this is a necessarily rarified part of the watchmaking world, but one that talks to the highest level of connoisseur.
“You need a very sophisticated client, someone able to appreciate the work around the movement,” says head of watch design Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani . This kind of object is not the sort for a show-off. Sometimes you have to find the right client to match the coin. The story behind the coin is often more important than the coin itself.”
In its infancy, money acted as a proxy for prestige, demonstrating the issuer’s wealth and influence through the intricacy of its design and the various signifiers engraved into its precious metals.
The example here was issued by the Roman Emperor Constans to mark a resounding victory over the Franks in 342. It may also have been associated with Constans’ visit to Britain, a journey that required a winter crossing of the English Channel, making it the perfect travelling companion for a modern-day road warrior.
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