Lot No. 195* (94th Auction)
BULGARI, Rom / Jaeger-LeCoultre, Fabrique En Suisse, Movement No. 957073, Case No. 116942, Cal. 496, 430 mm, 210 g, circa 1967

An important "serpenti" bracelet watch in gold with polychrome enamel and fancy yellow sapphires of museum quality - with original presentation box, letter of authenticity no. 21283 of the "Istituto Gemmologico Nazionale" ("National Gemological Institute") in Rome and expertise by ILLARIO jewellers, Valenza, on the sale of this watch in the 1960s
Case: 18k gold, polychrome enamel (red, black, turquoise, green and white), yellow sapphires, signed on the reverse side of the head "BULGARI". Dial: silvered, applied gold indexes/Arabic numerals, signed "Jaeger-LeCoultre, Fabrique En Suisse / Bulgari, Swiss", gold hands. Movm.: miniature bridge movement, back winder.

Sometime in the 1960s, Swiss watch manufacturer Jaeger-LeCoultre and Italian maker of jewellery and luxury products Bulgari decided to design and produce a 100 piece limited edition of extravagant enamel and gemstone bracelet watches together. Here we have one of the best preserved bracelets from the series – a snake coiled around the wrist, a "serpenti" bracelet with yellow sapphire eyes. The scales are applied with red, turquoise, black, green and white enamel. The hinged jaw opens to show the circular gold-cased watch with a silvered dial.

Bulgari had already created earlier timepieces in the form of snakes in the late 1940s; the Italian designer used movements by famous houses such as JaegerLe-Coultre, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. The concept was intended to rejuvenate the popular serpent bracelets Bulgari had begun creating in the Art Deco period and resulted in a number of different "serpenti" watches being produced since.

Named Tubogas, or gas pipe, the snake watches and their successors were created using a special technique where two long metal wire bands are merged without soldering to make the chain, so that the structure remains sleek and flexible. Bulgari has been using this technique since the 1950 and has produced necklaces, bracelets, rings and watches in this manner. The polychrome enamelling has been carried out with extreme skill – all elements are handcrafted from gold sheets upon which the enamel was applied. The finished parts are then connected to each other by screws. Some pieces have inscriptions on their tails such as "milk serpent" or "long-nosed-serpent", referring to the animal that inspired that particular design.

For an illustration of similar enamel snake designs from the Bulgari Heritage Collection, circa 1967, see "Bulgari: Serpenti Collection" by Marion Fasel, and "Bulgari - 125 Years of Italian Magnificence" by Amanda Triossi, Rome 2010, pages 212-217 and 362-364.
Estimate  180,000 - 220,000 €
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