Jewellery

Bulgari celebrates 75 years of the Serpenti at Harrods

75 years ago, Bulgari created a watch that featured a snake's head and strap. The snake or Serpenti design subsequently became a mascot of the house. To celebrate, Bulgari has created a Harrods pop up store featuring exclusive creations

30 June 2023

By Felix Bischof

Snakes at Harrods: to celebrate 75 years of Serpenti designs, Bulgari has opened a pop up boutique at the London department store running from the 4th to the 30th July. Also running in a window in the store is a special Bulgari AR experience accessed only via a QR code by phone.

Bulgari introduced its snake mascot in 1948. Then, the luxury maison first debuted a line of Serpenti timepieces. The watches came with a wraparound strap. This was made to the brand’s tactile Tubogas technique, which interprets flexible gas pipelines creatively to coil around wrists, reptilian-like, via a flexible tubular band.  

Inside the new Bulgari pop up store at Harrods
The exterior of the pop up store

Then, from the 1950s onwards, Bulgari’s designers and artisans turned their attention to the snake’s head, which they crafted from precious metals decorated by hand with vibrant gems. It’s a move that extended to the snake’s body in the 1960s, when scales flashed up with sparkling gems or colourful enamels.   

Vintage Bulgari Serpenti
Vintage Serpenti bracelet-watches (c.1967) by Irving Penn

A success, at the Roman jeweller, the snake – its scale, sinuous shape and glinting eyes – has inspired designers and jewellery artisans ever since. Contemporary artists, too have put their stamp on the Serpenti, among them Refik Anadol.

At Bulgari, it’s the maison’s creative director of jewellery, Lucia Silvestri, who now dreams up myriad versions of the Serpenti. It’s a task Silvestri embraces. “Reinterpreting Serpenti sign over and over without changing its identity is an inspiring challenge,” she says, “It is this perfect balance between its heritage and creativity evolution that has made the icon truly timeless and always in step with the times.” 

Exclusive jewels feature in Bulgari’s new pop up store at Harrods
Bulgari Serpenti 75th anniversary earrings Harrods exclusive
Bulgari Serpenti 75th anniversary earrings Harrods exclusive

When it comes to archival inspiration abounds; among them, Elizabeth Taylor sporting a Bulgari Serpenti while filming Cleopatra in 1962 or, more recently, Julia Garner at the Critics Choice Awards this year.  

Bulgari Serpenti 75th anniversary watch at Harrods
Bulgari Serpenti 75th anniversary watch at Harrods

At the newly opened dedicated space at Harrods, exclusive Bulgari Serpenti creations include a trio of top-handle bags. A Serpenti Viper Necklace is cast from yellow gold, its links dusted with white diamonds. The necklace is made complete with a set of Bulgari Serpenti Viper earrings, also in yellow gold and also detailed with round white diamonds.   

Bulgari Serpenti 75th anniversary necklace Harrods exclusive
Bulgari Serpenti 75th anniversary necklace Harrods exclusive
Inside the new Bulgari pop up store at Harrods

Yellow gold has also been used to make a Harrods exclusive Bulgari Serpenti Tubogas watch. Pay close attention to the watch face: the dial is lacquered in green, a nod to Harrods. Brilliant-cut diamonds feature, as does a pink rubellite, cabochon-cut.  

Bulgari Harrods Serpenti bag
Bulgari Harrods Serpenti bag

Like this? Read about Bulgari’s new high jewellery collection Mediterranea