A lady’s very rare and exceptional pink gold, white enamel and diamond-set Serpenti bracelet watch

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  • Manufacturer: Bulgari
    Year: Circa 1970
    Movement No: 1’286’093, manufactured in 1957
    Case No: 723’017
    Model Name: Serpenti
    Material: 18K pink gold, white enamel and diamond
    Bracelet/Strap: 18K pink gold, white enamel and diamond, max length approximately 170mm.
    Dimensions: 19mm. Wide
    Signed: Case and dial signed by retailer, dial and movement signed Jaeger-LeCoultre
    Accessories: With a letter from Bulgari confirming the production of the Serpent watch with white enamel and diamonds in 1970.
    Literature: Similar Bulgari Serpenti watches and design sketches can be seen in Marion Fasel’s Bulgari: Serpenti Collection.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Sinuous, exotic, and elegant, with a timeless appeal, the Bulgari Serpenti has endured for over half a decade, constantly evolving and pushing the boundaries of form and function. The Serpenti as part of Bulgari’s design heritage was actually preceded by the Tubogas, drawing inspiration from gas pipelines and constructed with a metal coil surrounded by interlocking precious metal bands. The Tubogas, in various forms, has been in existence since the 1940s. Bulgari took this more functional design and from the 1950s through the 1970s, transformed the humble coils into vividly colored and realistic serpentine bracelet watches.

    The miniature watch movements, usually located within the mouth of the snake, were supplied to Bulgari by high-end watch manufactures such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Movado, and Omega. The Serpenti of this period always featured a manually-wound movement with the winding crown located at the reverse. The form of the snake was made possible by a inner white gold coil, over which hammered gold scales were riveted together. These scales were decorated with enamel, sometimes engraved or painted to make the scales seem more lifelike, or inlaid with semi-precious and precious stones. The eyes of the snakes were usually large cabochon precious stones, such as diamonds, sapphires, or rubies.

    This particular Bulgari Serpenti, case number 723’017, is extremely rare and marvelous in its own right, having never appeared publicly before. The movement and case were produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre and sold to Bulgari in 1957, with the Serpenti being produced circa 1970. The eyes are large faceted diamonds, with rows of scales alternating between beautiful opaque white enamel hexagons outlined in gold and brilliant cut diamonds set in prongs and delicately engraved. Its smaller size was likely a custom order for a smaller wrist or just personal preference, and is rarely seen on the secondary market. In addition, scholarship indicates these smaller models were exclusively offered as special order pieces, further contributing to their rarity and importance. This smaller size was only available after 1968, keeping in line with the circa 1970 production date of this example. The snake’s head lies beautifully below the joints of the wrist, as the tapered body rendered in 18k pink gold winds along the arm. The attention to detail, sumptuous materials, and evocative design make this Serpenti a horological and artistic specimen of the highest order.

  • Maker Bio

    Bulgari

    Italian

    Originally from Kalarites, Greece, Sotirios Voulgaris emigrated to Rome because of Greece's rising poverty and difficulty separating from the Ottoman Empire. He set foot on Italian soil in 1880 with little money in his pocket and spent the next four years preparing what would go on to become Italy's oldest jewelry company. 

    In 1884, Bulgari opened its doors to the Italian people with its offering of jewelry and accessories. Bulgari's style takes from traditions in Greek and Roman craftsmanship to elegantly balance volume and subtlety. Later, in the late 1960s, Bulgari bridged classicism and modernity by introducing its seductive, now-iconic Serpenti collection of snake-shaped coil bracelets and watches. It is through its meticulous combination of influences that Bulgari has garnered an international and loyal high-profile clientele, which included Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. These Hollywood stars have immortalized the house's unique gem-adorned bracelets, necklaces and earrings in rounded forms. 

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Bulgari

A lady’s very rare and exceptional pink gold, white enamel and diamond-set Serpenti bracelet watch

寶格麗,「Serpenti」型號,獨特卓絕及華美優雅,18K玫瑰金古董珠寶錶,鑲嵌白色琺瑯與鑽石,約1970年製。附寶格麗證明文件

Circa 1970
19mm. Wide
Case and dial signed by retailer, dial and movement signed Jaeger-LeCoultre

Estimate
HK$1,200,000 - 2,400,000 
€132,000-264,000
$154,000-308,000

sold for HK$1,875,000

Contact Specialist
Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2030
thomasperazzi@phillips.com

Ziyong Ho
Specialist
+852 9386 2032
ziyongho@phillips.com

Jill Chen
Specialist
+852 2318 2033
jillchen@phillips.com

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX

Hong Kong Auction 29 May 2018