Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani’s objects of obsession

The mind behind many iconic Bvlgari watches gives us an exclusive glance behind the curtain of his design process

By Debbie Hathway
Fabrizio Buonamassa © Supplied

The view from the eighth floor of the Hotel President Wilson looks out over Lake Geneva, Switzerland, and distant snow-capped mountains. Here, I meet Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bvlgari product creation executive director, who describes himself as an industrial designer with a passion for sketching. On the table are a sketchpad, coloured marker pens, and monochromatic drawings that he produces to make a point or record an idea. Fabrizio favours blue, violet, red and black, the latter featuring on his sketch of the 40mm Octo Finissimo Ultra, the world’s thinnest watch at 1.8mm.

Octo Finissimo Ultra Sketch © Supplied

Released this year to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iconic piece, the look is as thick as a €0.20 coin. “The most incredible thing behind this watch for me is not thickness but the opportunity to use a physical object to talk about digital work,” Fabrizio says, referring to a QR code being engraved on the barrel’s ratchet wheel. “And I love to imagine the weight of the watch. There are 100 years of savoir-faire and heritage behind it. So ultra-thin and ultra-light at 44g – to talk about it is the most incredible thing.”

Octo Finissimo Ultra Sketch © Supplied

Fabrizio’s first job was in the automotive industry – another passion – where sketches were made by hand, a preference he maintained when he joined Bvlgari. You can make “amazing pictures with amazing detail” using computer software, but “you miss the sparkle at the beginning of the creative process,” he says.

Fabrizio’s inspiration for designing cars and motorbikes was shapes, not performance, and while these could influence his watch sketches, he says it’s essential to use the appropriate design languages. “For me, it doesn’t make sense to have the beautiful body of a car that becomes a watch you put on the wrist. We have to be able to get the mood but not the shape. I’m more in love with the coachbuilder than the car brand because it’s thanks to them that you can see the craziness of the 70s, the 50s, and the cars we made.”

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