Innovation and Elegance in Istanbul Bilgin Yachts’ Legacy of Superyacht Excellence

Written by Lucie Gardiner

Written by Lucie Gardiner

Since its establishment in 1929, Bilgin Yachts has evolved from a small family-run boatyard into one of Turkey’s foremost superyacht builders, setting new benchmarks for design, innovation, and craftsmanship.

The HQ of Bilgin Yachts is strategically located in Istanbul. The company operates state-of-the-art shipyards and develops, builds, modernizes, refits and maintains yachts. Their facilities sprawl over 60,000 square metres over several sites and house cutting-edge machinery, a dedicated in-house team of naval architects, engineers and craftspeople, manufacturing areas, a state-of-the-art marine furniture factory, and a comprehensive mechanic, hydraulic, stainless-steel and upholstery workshop. With a new facility in the Antalya free zone, production capability is expanded even further, with plans underway for the construction of a 52 and 60-metre yacht at the Antalya facility following the successful launch of the explorer yacht Kaşif this year.

The legacy of Bilgin Yachts is built on almost a century of maritime expertise. The company began as a modest builder of traditional wooden boats and has gradually expanded its portfolio to include advanced composite and steel-hulled superyachts from 50-120m. Over the decades, Bilgin has produced a variety of custom and semi-custom yachts, ranging from classic designs to contemporary marvels, solidifying its reputation for versatile craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail.

Berkay Yilmaz, Commercial Director of Bilgin Yachts, encapsulates the ethos of the brand, stating, “Our enduring success lies in our ability to adapt and innovate. Each Bilgin yacht is a symbiosis of our heritage and future-forward approaches, a testament to our unwavering commitment to quality and client satisfaction.” Bilgin’s shipyards are advanced production sites; hubs of innovation where sophisticated 3D modelling and computational fluid dynamics come to life, employing more than 500 highly skilled craftsmen, project managers and engineers. The yards are equipped with specialized construction halls, dry docks, and paint booths that enable the team to control every aspect of the build process, from initial sketches to the final coat of paint.

Known for their pioneering spirit, Bilgin Yachts were among the first in the industry to adopt environmentally sustainable practices. Recent builds feature advanced exhaust systems complying with IMO Tier III standards, emphasizing their commitment to finding a sustainable future for superyachting.

Bilgin has completed some ground-breaking projects, including the award-winning 48-meter Nerissa and the highly innovative 263 series, the second of which features on this month’s cover, the majestic M/Y Leona. Looking to the future, Bilgin has already announced plans to push the envelope in terms of both design and sustainability. Their upcoming projects include ventures into hydrogen-powered yachts and smart maritime systems, reflecting their vision to lead the way in yachting innovation and construction.

The Lady in Red M/Y Leona

Leona was the darling of this year’s Monaco Yacht Show. The exterior design and naval architecture are the brainchild of Emrecan Özgün’s Unique Yacht Design team and her sleek, sporty silhouette echoes the form of a bullet. But the audacious white and red colour palette isn’t the only thing that makes Leona stand out from the crowd.

“Designing Leona was an exercise in balance between aesthetics and function,” says Emrecan Özgün. “Her striking appearance captures the eye, but it’s the underlying engineering excellence that sustains the allure. This isn’t just a yacht; it’s a marvel of design optimization.” 

While sharing the same foundational DNA as her sister ship Tatiana, Leona manifests a unique identity through her intricate detailing and customized elements. One significant difference lies in the ceiling height; Leona flaunts remarkable 2.6-metre-high ceilings on the owner’s deck, imparting a sense of unparalleled spaciousness. Another divergence is the yacht’s focus on expansiveness over cabin numbers, reduced from eight cabins on Tatiana to five palatial suites aboard Leona, with the most notable being the transformation of the third cabin into a grand owner’s dressing room.

As far as performance goes, Leona doesn’t fall short; her 2,560 kW twin engines and advanced propulsion system reach top speeds of 19 knots, maintaining zero dynamic trim. Her generator consumes approximately 250 litres of fuel per hour while cruising at 12 knots – an astounding level of efficiency often linked to much smaller yachts.

The exterior materials of Leona are chosen with the utmost attention to detail, reflecting a harmonious blend of form and function. The hull is constructed with advanced composite materials that not only enhance her aesthetic appeal but also contribute to her exceptional performance and durability.

In opulent elegance, Leona’s multifaceted interior is by H2 Yacht Design. Inside Leona, you’re transported into a world of maximalism where the intricate interplay of materials and design elevates the onboard experience to an art form. Spearheaded by H2 Yacht Design, the vessel’s interiors are a symphony of marble, gold, leather, wood, and other precious materials throughout, and no surface remains unadorned.

“We aimed to create a rich, multifaceted interior for Leona that transcends mere aesthetics. Every corner is a testament to craftsmanship and intricate detailing,” said Jonny Horsfield of H2 Yacht Design. The interior brims with several varieties of marble, including Carrara, Calacatta, and Statuario, each carefully selected and fitted to harmonize with the other elements. As you step into the saloon, the striking use of gold leafing on the ceiling captures your attention, contrasting exquisitely with the supple textures and plush fabrics and leather of Roberto Cavalli furnishings.

The full custom interior sets Leona apart. Unlike many superyachts that opt for semi-custom solutions, every aspect of her interior is tailored to meet the owner’s precise specifications. “The freedom we were given in designing this yacht allowed us to bring an array of precious materials into play. We’ve integrated specially crafted wood inlays, custom-designed furniture, and exclusive artwork to complete this sumptuous tableau,” noted Horsfield.

Around the yacht, you’ll find one-of-a-kind artworks and installations that accentuate the space. From the intricate geometric wall panels in the dining area to the hand-carved wooden screens that provide a sense of privacy, each design element serves a dual purpose – form and function.

The layering of materials and styles adds a unique dimensional quality to the interiors. Textured walls are masterfully juxtaposed against the smooth, reflective quality of gold elements. “It’s the layering that enriches the design, adding a complexity and depth that you can’t achieve with simpler material combinations,” added Horsfield.

Leona promises not just opulence, but also a thoroughly modern, state-of-the-art experience, courtesy of the advanced audio-visual and information technology systems. Spearheaded by Smart Technology Advisors, the vessel is equipped with an AV/IT system that provides an intuitive and seamless user experience. “We designed a comprehensive system for Leona that melds the latest technologies, ensuring that guests can easily navigate through a variety of entertainment options, from Apple TV to Autonomic music streamers,” said Matt Glossop of Smart Technology Advisors.

The systems include everything from James Loudspeaker models to a dedicated iPad that controls the yacht’s fireplace. The focus is on delivering a high-quality AV/IT experience without compromising on the yacht’s aesthetic value. “The aim was to make the technology unobtrusive but highly functional, and we are proud to have achieved that balance,” added Glossop.


Also read

Get your hard-copy now!

Your advert in The Islander Magazine?

Get your hard-copy now!

Your advert in The Islander Magazine?

and receive your invitation to our events