THE ITALIAN STYLE. Just hours before the grand opening of Bulgari’s newest boutique at Plaza Senayan Jakarta, Umberto Macchi rapped about the brand and his decade-long experience within the Roman luxury house
“We really like, as Italians, to have fun, live life at its best, and the way we express our Italian style is to make creations which are very joyful, playful and happy”
Italians do have their own way of doing things, and Umberto Macchi is a fine example of this. This November, he flew all the way to Jakarta for a very special evening, that is, the grand opening of the Bulgari boutique at Plaza Senayan—the brand’s third outlet in Jakarta. Tall and dapper, Macchi was upbeat and all smiles right from the beginning. Even during the interview, he gushed like a true Italian, with words flowing in wonderful melodies, especially when he excused himself for a moment to coax his child, who sought a bit of extra attention after his first day of school, over the phone.
Once he finished the call, Macchi jumped back to tackling question after question with gusto. Here is how the story goes.
DA MAN: For the last five years, it seems that Bulgari has been investing a lot in watches. Any particular reason for this business strategy?
Umberto Macchi: Jewelry is and will always be the center of our world. But when you think of watches, especially ladies’ watches, they’re very close to jewelry in concept. The type of customer is mainly the same, and the luxury experience is practically the same as well.
Watches as a product category are very important in the world of luxury. They’re one of the biggest categories, in fact. With our experience so far, especially in terms of technological manufactures over the last ten to fifteen years, the brand is now very confident in developing its watch portfolio.
For the ladies’ watches, our experience mostly comes from luxury jewelry. We have learned a lot about what ladies want in terms of jewelry, and therefore we can create timekeeping creations like the Lucea, for instance. They’re inspired by elements from jewelry, such as the Serpenti-like bracelet.
In the men’s watches, we have a very strong experience in the manufacturing process. We have one of the most sophisticated factories and watchmaking teams in Switzerland. Therefore, we like to create timepieces for men that can be “masculine” jewelry. With our Italian style and sophisticated Swiss technology, we can blend the technical and the creative parts together, giving our customers an offer that no other brand could invent.
DA MAN: What is the Italian style, specifically?
Umberto Macchi: It’s a very difficult question, because as an Italian I feel it in my heart, so it’s difficult to express. [Giggles] But I’d say one of the best ways to express it is joyful. We really like, as Italians, to have fun, live life at its best, and the way we express our Italian style is to make creations which are very joyful, playful, happy, not necessarily serious or boring. It’s really the opposite of that.
This you can see in many of our creations. You take, for instance, our colored jewelries. We like to play with colored stones because the mix of colors gives a joyful aspect to our jewelry. When you wear a necklace with different colored stones and diamonds, you really have this feeling of an Italian style, which is happy, loving life and enjoyment.
“It’s really the best thing of my job—that is to work for Bulgari. And I’m serious about it”
DA MAN: What about watches? Why do you think should people have a Bulgari watch as opposed to other brands?
Umberto Macchi: Because our creations are very unique. You don’t really choose between a Bulgari watch and another brand. You choose Bulgari because you like what Bulgari offers: It’s not classic; it’s not contemporary; it sets the pace as a different brand. This is exactly what our customers like.
For instance, when we sell a complicated watch, you might wonder why a knowledgeable customer would buy such a watch from Bulgari. Because, it’s different. You have a very Italian style merged with very advanced technology and contemporary elements; it’s something that other brands might not offer.
Take our Tourbillon sapphire, for instance. You see a number of characteristics that you wouldn’t find in other brands. The first thing is this case: The construction is inspired by drums. Drums have screws outside, because you want to enhance the sound—the shape on the inside must be perfectly round. If you have screws inside, they would alter the sound waves. This case was originally created for our Grande Sonnerie [Minute Repeater] watch. Since the objective is to enhance the sound without having any disturbance from the screws, we took this idea and used it on other watches as well.
Also in this case, we have all the bridges made from sapphire crystal. This way, the watch looks like it’s floating. The third element is the big cylinders of Super-LumiNova. If you look at this watch in the dark, you’ll see these big cylinders of Super-LumiNova glow vividly. That’s really the spirit of why we do things—we do things to surprise our clients, to have them feel that Bulgari is made for them.
DA MAN: What’s the best thing about your job in Bulgari?
Umberto Macchi: I’d be very honest: There’s no other brand I would work for that would give me more pleasure than when I’m working for Bulgari. It’s really the best thing of my job—to work for Bulgari. And I’m serious about it.