How Gran Turismo 7’s $5000 Bulgari DLC Was Born
Images: OverTake

How Gran Turismo 7’s $5,000 Bulgari DLC Was Born

Gran Turismo 7

Here’s how the Bulgari Aluminium Vision Gran Turismo car was created, and currently sits behind the purchase of a watch.

Every new content addition to Gran Turismo 7 since its 2022 release to date has been free. Gratis. Zilch. 

A car pass, season pass or any other form of pass is not available – although there are optional in-game microtransactions 

But then someone at creator Polyphony Digital went feral, presumably irked at the anti-DLC strategy and put the new Bulgari Aluminium Vision Gran Turismo car behind a paywall. 

A significant one too, at $4,800. 

Bulgari Aluminium Gran Turismo Special Edition watch on a Fanatec wheel
Going to go out on a limb here and suggest that no one will place $15k of watches on their Fanatec wheel… Image: OverTake

You see, access is granted Gran Turismo 7’s latest VGT inductee by first purchasing the Bulgari Aluminium Gran Turismo Special Edition watch. You will then receive a QR code that delivers the car in-game. 

You could argue, then, that the Bulgari (stylised as BVLGARI) car is the most expensive vehicle DLC of all time. Outrageous. This has caused much consternation among some Gran Turismo players, and on paper, rightly so. 

Rubbing salt into the wound, its silhouette sits within the Car Collection and AI-rivals in single-player races use it. Tantalising.

Gran Turismo 7 1.42 January 2024 Update - Bulgari Car Collection

Let’s not all get hyperbolic, however. The watch simply grants early access, the open-roofed sports car will be available to all ‘late February’. Realistically, it would be extraordinary if anyone purchased the chic wrist jewellery just to claim the virtual car. 

Instead, it’s a bonus if you are already in the market for a timepiece. Potentially, it helps Gran Turismo 7 reach a – albeit affluent and extraordinarily niche – new audience. 

Despite that, right now, some of the reactions online are indignant. Hey, at least people seemingly want to drive a Vision Gran Turismo car… 

The Bulgari Aluminium Vision Gran Turismo’s origins 

Speaking at the launch of the partnership between the Italian fashion brand and the Japanese game developers, the story of how it came about was brought to light. 

It involved a chance encounter with an Instagram post for Bulgari’s Product Creation Executive Director, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani. 

While scrolling through the social media platform, he came across a post extolling the virtues of Fabio Filippini’s design book Curve. Stigliani then reached out to the former Pininfarina design chief to deliver congratulations about the publication, and they kept in touch. 

Bulgari and Gran Turismo partnerhsip annoucement
Bulgari’s Antoine Pin (left) Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani (middle) with Kazunori Yamauchi (right). Image: OverTake

“I don’t know why, but I was in a Parisian taxi and Fabio called me and said he knew very well the people of Gran Turismo in Japan… I know that you love cars, why not?” explained Stigliani. 

“I say ‘why not, what? We make watches we don’t make cars; I don’t know, we’ll have to think about that.’” 

But, as someone who started his career working for Fiat and admits to spending “many nights” playing the Gran Turismo games, the idea burned bright. 

“We started the discussion and discovered the world of Gran Turismo in terms of so many things,” continued the bearded designer, sharply suited in the Barcelona conference room. 

“[It was suggested that] we can make watches and we can make a dial, but [those ideas] were not enough because afterwards, Gran Turismo comes [to us and says] it could be interesting to have a car in the game to have a different Bulgari experience.” 

Bulgari Aluminium Vision Gran Turismo Monza

The game development team was responsible for the final design, provided it somehow imbued a sense of the exiting Bulgari Aluminium watch, as the product director explained: 

“Usually, Polyphony receives the 3D file from the automotive industry, but we say that we were not able to do it. We don’t have the skills, we don’t have the right people and we don’t have the time to dedicate to this project. 

“So, ‘if you could make the 3D file alone, then we can help you’, but otherwise for us, it was too hard.” 

The other side of the story tells a tale of exacting standards and a requirement to match the 140-year-old fashion house’s demands. 

Bulgari Aluminium Vision Gran Turismo Interior

“When Mr Stigliani came to our Polyphony Digital offices and gave us a presentation of the concept design, with the type of car he would like to see, he set the hurdle very high for us,” said Gran Turismo series producer Kazunori Yamauchi. 

“Our staff really had to work hard to meet his expectations for the car.” 

On-Track In The Bulgari Watch Car 

Polyphony Digital did have a requirement for the watch manufacturers, however – they didn’t want a ‘watch with wheels’, instead a ‘real’ car. Otherwise, it figured, its players wouldn’t want to use it. 

So, instead, there’s a barchetta design minus a windscreen, inspired by classic Pininfarina-penned Alfa Romeos, mixed with angular Marcello Gandini and Bertone-styled vehicles of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  

Driving The Bulgari Aluminium Vision Gran Turismo 02
Driving The Bulgari Aluminium Vision Gran Turismo. Image: OverTake

“One thing that I really think about this Bulgar Vision GT is that it is a design that is going to have a mark on automotive history, and inspire correct designers now and feature designers to come,” explained Yamauchi-san. 

At a launch event, we were able to briefly drive it within Gran Turismo 7. The interior is jewel-like, and the 394bhp inline-four-cylinder engine buzzy like a swarm of bees. As with many Vision GT projects, the braking zones are longer than a Milan catwalk. 

Hands-On With the Bulgari Car Watch 

On the face of it (yes, that is a pun), the Bulari limited edition chronograph bears little resemblance to the automotive industry. Until you look a little closer, and you realise that the yellow-on-grey accents have been inspired by the dials from a Lancia Delta HF Integrale. The font too is Gran Turismo’s. 

Around the rear is the ‘Vision GT’ inscription, celebrating 10 years of the programme that takes car designer’s dreams and turns them into virtual racers. 

Bulgari Aluminium Gran Turismo Special Edition watch on the wrist of Kazunori Yamauchi
The Bulgari Aluminium Gran Turismo Special Edition watch on the wrist of Kazunori Yamauchi. Image: OverTake

I’m not in the market for one of these, I leave fashion to someone like YouTuber and racing driver Super GT – he was sporting one of these at a recent Gran Turismo event in his typically dapper way. 

This isn’t for the sim racers or the racing game drivers. This is for the fashionistas, who purchase it because it’s the hot new thing, not because of the gaming connections. 

But, if like Dior’s recent activations too, this elevates the overall perception of driving cars on a console, then I’m all for it. I’m just not sure about placing the car behind a temporary $5,000 paywall…

Will you be picking up the limited edition watch? Wait, let’s rephrase that… Will you be picking up the latest Vision GT car next month? Let us know in the comments below, or on X – @OverTake_gg.