Italian watchmaker Bulgari recently teased an entry for the Vision Gran Turismo series of concepts that ideally end up as playable cars in Sony’s Gran Turismo. Were Bulgari to show up to the party, it would be the first non-carmaker to put a vehicle on the start line; Nike and Jordan teased something eons ago that never materialized. We’re happy to report that at the same Gran Turismo World Finals 2023 in Barcelona, Spain where Genesis showed its X Gran Berlinetta VGT, the Bulgari Aluminum Vision GT concept made its virtual debut. No one should be surprised to find out that in an inversion of the order we’re used to, a watch celebrating a vehicle, this roadster takes its inspiration from Bulgari’s Aluminum watch.
In fact, there’s so much more to it that the backstory is at least as interesting as the roadster. Ex-Pininfarina designer Fabio Filippini penned the Fittipaldi EF7 Vision Gran Turismo concept. He published a book about car design that the senior director of Bulgari’s Watch Design Center, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, saw and liked. Stigliani, who had been a designer with Fiat and ran his own design studio, got in touch with Filippini about designing a car for Vision Gran Turismo that would debut on during the 10th anniversary of the VGT project, which is this year. For in-house inspiration, they chose the Bulgari Aluminum watch. The timepiece debuted in 1998 as an evolution of Bulgari’s first sport watch, the Diagono, making an impact at the time for mixing aluminum and rubber, an unconventional material mix for a luxury watch. Bulgari released a new line of Aluminum watches in 2020, resurrecting the metal and rubber theme.
Hence the Bulgari Aluminum VGT concept being made of brushed aluminum and carbon fiber, with sensitive areas protected by rubber. The wedge shape known from a number of Italian concept cars in the 1970s makes even more modern and historical connections. Start with the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale electric supercar unveiled in August, a reboot of the original Tipo 33 Stradale of the late 1960s. Over eight years from 1968 to 1976, four Italian designers created six concept cars based on the 33 Stradale. One of those was Pininfarina’s P33 Roadster:
Stigliani’s and Filippini’s Fiat and Pininfarina connections make this an obvious totem to look back to. Note all the Bulgari Aluminum’s similarities with the open-top — rubber-tipped front fascia, central row of headlights between the plane of high front wheel arches, LED DRLs suggestive of the vintage car’s aero flics, heavily curved windshield, a dark hem along the flanks, downward sloping rear deck, twin horizontal taillamps flanking a dark central area. The biggest difference is that the P33 Roadster made its engine visible, whereas the Aluminum VGT has little more than a single exhaust pipe to even suggest it has an engine. The concept makes ICE noises in the video, but we have no info on the source.
But wait, there’s more. Bulgari created a limited edition Aluminum chronograph watch to go with the concept car. One version features a yellow face in the aluminum case, a second version gets an anthracite face. Aluminum rods connect the bracelet’s rubber links. A titanium crown is matched by a titanium caseback, the black diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating on the back engraved with the 10th Anniversary Vision GT logo. We’d tell you more about them, but they’re sold, and watch site Hodinkee dives into their particulars better than we could. What matters to gamers is that those who bought the watch get a code for early access to the Aluminum VGT concept; the rest of us will get access early next year.