With its signature styling and a well-chosen automatic movement that keeps it ticking, the new Bvlgari Diagono Calibro 303 Chronograph looks like a nice choice for a person in search of a sportier kind of a reliable timekeeper that doesn’t try to look like your average run-off-the-mill Omega or Breitling.
Looking at this new product I can’t help but compare it with Hublot’s Bing Bang family. It is a bit strange since the Diagono Calibro 303 Chronograph features a radically different design starting with a solid body and sword-shaped hour and minute hands. However, the feel of this timepiece, its sporty appearance suggest that the Swiss-based branch of the Italian fashion brand clearly tried to reverse engineer Hublot’s success secret.
Still, however secondary it may feel, it still looks interesting and even fascinating (at least, for a fashion accessory) design that, with certain reservations, can be recommended as a dress watch of choice for a person who isn’t afraid of combining a Ralph Lauren orange polo shirt with a green double-breasted blazer by Sottono.
The new watch is equipped with what Bulgari prefers to market as Caliber BVL 303 automatic movement with a column-wheel chronograph complication. The caliber is based on the Frederic Piguet 1185 that has been here for ages. Despite comprising 303 parts (hence the name,) the movement is surprisingly thin. It is also quite accurate since Bvlgari designed the engine to compete with the best of the best in the field: under different names and with a different finish, the base caliber is used by such established brands as Omega, Blancpain, Vacheron Constantin, and even Breguet.
Originally, the mechanism was a hand-wound engine, but the Swiss Manufacture soon introduced a self-winding version that added just over 1.5 mm to the original’s 3.95 mm thickness. With a diameter of 25.6 mm, the automatic FP 1185 is only 5.5mm thick!
Since the movement is visible through a sapphire crystal on the back, it features a painstakingly executed finish with a blend of such traditional techniques as circular-graining, Satine Soleil, and the Cotes de Geneve stripes on the oscillating weight that match the same pattern on the dial.
The case of the time measuring device is made of satin-finished stainless steel and features a fixed 18-karat white gold bezel with the inevitable pair of stamped “BVLGARI” logos and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflection treatment.
Measuring 42 millimeters in diameter and almost 13 millimeters in height, the watch looks relatively small compared to the recent flock of “sporty” chronographs that feature gargantuan proportions and look like you can kill an elephant with it.
Still, due to the shape of its rather long lugs, the watch tends to take almost all available space on a wrist, so be sure to try it before placing an order in an online shop.
The Bvlgari Diagono Calibro 303 also sports exquisite multi-layer dial with their trademark satine soleil finish, vertical treatments and faceted hand-applied indexes.
The dial features a standard tri-compax layout with a pair of chronograph counters at 3 and 9 o’clock and a subsidiary seconds subdial at 6 o’clock with a small date aperture cut out in its inner part.
To increase the legibility of the piece, the Italian watchmaker has equipped the small-seconds indicator with a high-contrast black hand, while the other five hands are gold-plated. The hour and minute hands, as well as the applied hour markers (also gold-plated) feature thin stripes of C1 Superluminova, so night-time legibility also not going to be an issue.
Certainly, a watch to have.
See also: Omega Five Counter Speedmaster Olympic
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Bvlgari Diagono Calibro 303 specification
Price range: $10,700 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber BVL 303 automatic movement (base Frederic Piguet 1185,) Swiss Made
Complications: Chronograph, date
Power reserve: 45 hours
Case: Stainless steel with 18 kt white-gold bezel
Size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 5.50 mm
Water resistance: 100 meters
Crystal: Anti-reflective, scratch resistant, sapphire crystal