Crafting luxury: Bilgin Yacht's semi-custom success story

Over recent years, Bilgin Yachts has made a name for itself with the production of high quality steel and aluminium, semi-custom superyachts. The launch of yachts such as the 80-metre Tatiana in 2020, and the award winning Leona in 2023 have built global recognition for the Turkish yacht builder and its semi-custom series has continued to thrive. With eight sub-500 GT yachts currently in-build and all due for launch by 2026, we sat down with Mehmet Şengün, Shipyard Director, Berkay Yılmaz, Commercial Director and Emrecan Özgün of Unique Yacht Design, to get a deeper insight into why the Bilgin sub-500 GT series in particular, are proving so popular with owners from across the sector. Leona yacht cruisingSemi-custom Success

An increasingly familiar term in the yachting industry, semi-custom, or derivations of it, are being launched by yards across the sector. Bilgin has honed in on the flexibility and reliability that the semi-custom approach offers its customers. Berkay Yılmaz, Commercial Director, explains, “By opting for a semi-custom approach, Bilgin enables owners to tailor key aspects of their yachts to suit their preferences and lifestyle requirements, such as interior layouts, finishes, and amenities. Additionally, the semi-custom approach allows Bilgin to maintain high standards of quality and craftsmanship while streamlining production processes and reducing lead times compared to fully custom builds, making build times more efficient.”Mehmet Şengün, Berkay Yılmaz and Emrecan ÖzgünThe importance of efficient construction periods are more significant than ever in today’s market, with many builder’s facing backlogs of four-plus years for new construction yachts. Semi-custom models, with their proven engineering platform offer a streamlined build period when compared to full custom, despite offering many of the same flexibilities in terms of customisation. Mehmet Şengün, Shipyard Director, adds, “The shipyard's focus on time effectiveness is a key aspect of its operations, particularly highlighted by the design flexibility offered in both interior and exterior areas. With continuous production in motion, bolstered by a highly skilled workforce, Bilgin Yachts efficiently turns client visions into reality without unnecessary delays. This operational efficiency not only ensures timely delivery of each customised yacht but also strengthens trust, reputation, and loyalty among our clientele.”Project Ame yacht interior design Creative Customisations

With the flexibility of design a major priority for the yard, Bilgin enables owners to make customisations to various elements of all semi-custom yachts, including external and internal configurations, the interior design, as well as architectural designs. This offering allows owners to put their individual stamp on the yacht, while maintaining the performance integrity of the proven yacht platforms.Eternal Spark yacht launchFor Emrecan Özgün of Unique Yacht Design, the appeal of the series is rooted in Bilgin’s focus on maximising the use of indoor and exterior spaces to differentiate them from other yachts on the market. He explains, “Throughout the design process, the longstanding successful collaboration with Bilgin Yachts and lessons learned from feedback were pivotal. The main focus was to enable guests to spend ample time outdoors, which was achieved by maximising the square footage and enhancing shaded and sheltered areas, particularly in the new 163 and 170 series, as well as the Eternal Spark and her sister ships. As a result, the Bilgin 499 GT semi-custom projects emerged as platforms with some of the largest outdoor spaces available.”Eternal Spark yacht interior designThese large, open plan spaces with diverse potential uses, are part of the reason the yachts are so adaptable to each owner’s unique specifications. Eternal Spark is a key example of a yacht which has undergone a number of customisations, including an extension to her stern, which Emrecan Özgün sees as one of the yacht's most interesting additions. He adds, “One of the most enjoyable parts of these boats is the aft areas. Knowing that semi-platform beach clubs and main deck sitting areas close to the sea are where owners prefer to spend much of their time, we moved sea toys from the aft to the forward deck, allowing the crew to work more comfortably. This shift enabled us to create much larger and enjoyable spaces on the main deck aft area.”

Project Silence, which is due to launch later this year as part of the Bilgin 263 series, is a perfect example of a yacht with a high level of customisation. Featuring interiors from H2 Yacht Design, the yacht boasts a 20 percent larger volume than her predecessors, in addition to a number of significant layout changes, including the positioning of the owner deck above the main deck for enhanced privacy and the relocation of the wheelhouse to the top deck for improved bridge visibility. Mehmet Şengün adds, “These customisations exemplify Bilgin's commitment to meeting owner preferences and enhancing the overall functionality and luxury of the yacht.” Silence yacht exterior designThe yacht’s sistership Leona is another example of a highly customised Bilgin superyacht, with her eye-catching bright red exterior and unique interior design. The Bilgin team accommodated a number of bespoke changes in the yacht's architecture, such as a shortened exterior upper deck that allowed for a larger interior volume for the owner. The two Bilgin 163 yachts due to be delivered this year, Project Ame and Eternal Spark, further demonstrate the potential of personalisation among the Bilgin fleet. Both designed by Unique Yacht Design and Hot Lab, the sisterships have similar exterior lines, but stepping aboard, guests are met by two vastly different interiors, that goes beyond material choice alone. Eternal Spark yacht interior design

Part of the success of the sub-500 GT series comes, without a doubt, from the carefully developed designs that have been created to appeal to a large spectrum of owners. Recognising that yacht owners desire a closeness to the ocean and abundance of natural light, the yachts have been carefully created with these details in mind. Mehmet Şengün explains, “Our clients have shown a keen interest in designs that offer expansive exterior living spaces, such as large aft decks, beach clubs, and ample sunbathing areas, which allow for greater enjoyment of the marine environment. Additionally, features that enhance the influx of daylight into interior spaces, like large windows and skylights, are highly valued for creating bright, airy, and welcoming environments onboard. The ability to customise these areas, tailoring them to specific preferences for outdoor entertainment, relaxation, or dining, significantly appeals to owners, so we have ensured that all of our yachts feature these key areas.”  

Specific examples of customisations currently underway onboard the 499 GT yacht projects include innovative interior features designed by Hot Lab, such as a full-height round glass wall separating the lobby from the main living room, a floating staircase, a skylight on the sundeck floor, and a stunning chandelier in the main lobby. Each of these elements contribute to the luxurious and sophisticated ambiance of the yacht's interior spaces.Eternal Spark yacht interior designUncompromised Quality 

Channelling the engineering excellence and high-quality standards seen aboard the larger yachts, Bilgin prioritises the highest quality construction methods to ensure that all of its vessels are built to the top standards. Berkay Yılmaz explains how this approach is unusual in the semi-custom sector; “This approach is relatively unique in Europe, setting Bilgin Yachts apart as Turkey's leading shipyard and earning global recognition. By integrating the superior specifications and standards of larger yachts into these more compact sizes, we provide unparalleled quality and innovation in our 499 GT yacht projects. This ensures that each yacht from Bilgin not only meets but exceeds the sophisticated expectations of our clients, reflecting our position as a trailblazer in the yacht manufacturing industry.”Bilgin 170 yacht exterior designReiterating Berkay Yılmaz’s view, Emrecan Özgün notes that all of Bilgin’s yachts are distinguished by the “combination of craftsmanship and attention to detail within their build. The semi-custom series offers flexibility in terms of exterior furniture to yacht owners. We can implement any desired projects in this area swiftly during the yacht's production process.”

Working closely with the owner’s teams, design studios and project managers, Bilgin Yachts ensures a highly personalised and attentive service for its clients. During the customisation process, whether it be fabric choices, furniture selection or major engineering works, Bilgin diligently communicates with the owner to ensure their wishes are being met. 

To find out more about Bilgin’s semi-custom superyachts, reach out to the team now; 

Bilgin Yachts


Email: [email protected]

Phone: +90 212 876 45 47

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