THE YEAR OF THE OCTO

Bulgari’s top-seller not only broke four more horo­log­i­cal records in 2018, the col­lec­tion also saw the in­tro­duc­tion of three ad­di­tional case ma­te­ri­als.

WatchTime - - Table Of Contents - By Roger Rueg­ger

| Bulgari’s top-seller not only broke four more horo­log­i­cal records in 2018, the col­lec­tion also saw the in­tro­duc­tion of three ad­di­tional case ma­te­ri­als.

— Shortly af­ter Basel 2018, Watchtime had the rare op­por­tu­nity for a brief hands-on with one of the 50 Octo Finis­simo Au­to­matic Tour­bil­lons pro­duced, and two of the new Finis­simo Au­to­mat­ics, the stain­less-steel and rose-gold ver­sions. But the Ital­ian brand had al­ready launched a cou­ple of other me­chan­i­cal high­lights worth men­tion­ing in the months be­fore.

2018 – More Mod­els, More Records

Bulgari started the watch year with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Octo Solotempo L’orig­i­nale (Ref­er­ence 102858) and the Octo Ve­locis­simo L’orig­i­nale chrono­graph (Ref­er­ence 102859) in Jan­uary. Both watches fea­ture a sand­blasted ti­ta­nium case (and match­ing dial), and thus bring the light­weight ma­te­rial (and look) that Bulgari had pre­vi­ously used for its record-break­ing watches in 2016 and 2017 to the Octo core col­lec­tion (with prices start­ing at $7,150 for the Solotempo, and $10,200 for the Ve­locis­simo).

e brand also pre­sented the Diva Finis­sima Minute Re­peater (Ref­er­ence 102839), mak­ing the world’s thinnest wrist­watch minute re­peater move­ment from 2016, Cal­iber BVL 362, avail­able in a women’s watch for the first time.

Most importantly, Bulgari man­aged to break three horo­log­i­cal records with one sin­gle watch dur­ing the fol­low­ing Basel­world fair in March. e Octo Finis­simo Tour­bil­lon Au­to­matic (Ref­er­ence 102937) now holds the ti­tle of the world’s thinnest au­to­matic watch, the world’s thinnest au­to­matic tour­bil­lon and the world’s thinnest tour­bil­lon move­ment (see Watchtime’s

June 2018 is­sue for an in­ter­view with Bulgari Watches Manag­ing Di­rec­tor Guido Ter­reni). On top of that, the Octo Finis­simo Minute Re­peater, first in­tro­duced in ti­ta­nium in 2016 (Ref­er­ence 102559) as the world’s thinnest me­chan­i­cal minute re­peater, was be­ing pre­sented in Basel for the first time with an ul­tra-light­weight car­bon case (which Bulgari de­scribes as Car­bon in Ply, or CTP) with match­ing dial and bracelet (Ref­er­ence 102794), most likely mak­ing it also the light­est me­chan­i­cal minute re­peater on the mar­ket, weigh­ing only 47 grams (instead of the 77 grams of the ti­ta­nium ver­sion). Both watches are lim­ited to 50 pieces only and priced at $160,000 (minute re­peater in car­bon) and $118,000 (tour­bil­lon); the in­di­vid­ual num­ber of each watch can be found on the ceramic in­sert on the crown.

e Octo Finis­simo Tour­bil­lon Au­to­matic was also one of only two au­to­matic tour­bil­lon watches pre­sented in Basel that had been equipped with a pe­riph­eral os­cil­lat­ing weight, the $72,300 Manero Tour­bil­lon from Carl F. Bucherer (Ref­er­ence 00.10920.03.13.01), with a more tra­di­tion­ally de­signed case in rose gold mea­sur­ing 43.1 mm by 11.57 mm, be­ing the other one. But while Carl F. Bucherer con­se­quently had used its sig­na­ture pe­riph­eral ro­tor con­cept for its head­liner of 2018, Bulgari chose the pe­riph­eral con­struc­tion pri­mar­ily to make the move­ment (and, there­fore, the case) of the Octo Finis­simo Tour­bil­lon as thin as pos­si­ble. As a con­se­quence, the Octo Finis­simo Tour­bil­lon Au­to­matic is now 42 mm in di­am­e­ter, 2 mm larger than its man­u­al­wind coun­ter­part, Cal­iber BVL 268, and 1 mm larger than the chrono­graph mod­els in the col­lec­tion. In­ter­est­ingly, the move­ment of the ro­tor can clearly be felt (and even heard), due to the ex­tremely thin case­back.

Lastly, the Octo Finis­simo Au­to­matic, first in­tro­duced in 2017 in ti­ta­nium (Ref­er­ence 102711), and for a cou­ple of months the slimmest self-wind­ing watch on the mar­ket, is now avail­able in steel (Ref­er­ence 103011) as well as in 18k rose gold (Ref­er­ence 102912). Bulgari also un­veiled an­other ti­ta­nium model with blue

instead of black dauphine hands and match­ing mark­ers (Ref­er­ence 102945) as a lim­ited edi­tion, but the two ad­di­tional ma­te­rial op­tions are in­deed good news for those not used to wear­ing ul­tra-light time­pieces (the Octo Finis­simo Au­to­matic weighs only 80 grams on the full ti­ta­nium bracelet), and with a re­tail price of $13,300 (on the bracelet) also slightly less ex­pen­sive than the ti­ta­nium ver­sion priced at $13,900. e rose-gold ver­sion, how­ever, re­tails for $43,300, mainly be­cause it is cur­rently only avail­able on a rose-gold bracelet.

Break­ing with Tra­di­tion

What’s re­mark­able is how Bulgari has man­aged to give each ma­te­rial a very unique look (next to an al­ready unique case de­sign) while still re­tain­ing the Octo’s typ­i­cal vis­ual ap­pear­ance. e al­most white, alu­minum-like stain­less steel (cre­ated with a tech­nique ini­tially used for Bulgari’s

The Bulgari Finis­simo hap­pens to be the thinnest me­chan­i­cal wrist­watch avail­able, but it’s first and fore­most a mod­ern watch with an award­win­ning de­sign.

white-gold jewelry), for ex­am­ple, or the sub­stan­tially darker ti­ta­nium and the rose gold with fully matte fin­ish­ing pro­vide a fan­tas­tic con­trast, and, for a watch that thin, an in­cred­i­bly ver­sa­tile wrist pres­ence. Bulgari CEO Jean-christophe Babin ex­plained dur­ing an in­ter­view with Watchtime, “e col­ors are not ap­plied to the sur­face; they come from the struc­ture of the ma­te­rial. is is im­por­tant to us. is is how we are ex­pand­ing the de­sign we in­tro­duced with the Octo Finis­simo Minute Re­peater in ti­ta­nium.”

e same can be said for the slightly larger Octo Finis­simo Tour­bil­lon. e dark gray, al­most tac­ti­cal-look­ing watch works sur­pris­ingly well with a jacket or a ca­sual shirt. We es­pe­cially

like the fact that the Octo Finis­simo was clearly de­signed to work as a watch for ev­ery­day life, and, instead of aim­ing for a show­piece with lit­tle prac­ti­cal­ity, Bulgari came up with a range of ul­tra-thin watches in the last four years that can ac­tu­ally be worn. Babin com­mented, “Break­ing world records was never our pri­mary goal. But the au­to­matic watch was an ex­cep­tion. Pi­aget had just taken away the world record we had won in 2017 [for the Octo Finis­simo Au­to­matic], and we wanted to get it back as quickly as pos­si­ble. But gen­er­ally speak­ing, break­ing world records is not a di­rec­tion we give to our de­vel­op­ers. Our most im­por­tant goal for our thin watches is to achieve the next level of el­e­gance. And if this re­sults in a new record, that’s even bet­ter.”

In other words, Bulgari’s Finis­simo Tour­bil­lon hap­pens to be the thinnest me­chan­i­cal wrist­watch ever pro­duced (and avail­able to buy), but it’s first and fore­most a well-de­signed con­tem­po­rary watch. Bulgari man­aged to com­bine mod­ern de­sign with haute hor­logerie and high prac­ti­ca­bil­ity, and was able to come up with a watch that’s both as im­pres­sive on the spec sheet as it is rel­e­vant as a prod­uct. Af­ter all, the Octo Finis­si­mos (in­clud­ing the au­to­matic) are com­fort­able to wear, come with a wa­ter re­sis­tance of 30 me­ters and a power re­serve of up to 60 hours. ere aren’t that many watches in this league that can be worn that easily as an ev­ery­day watch. Babin says, “We try to fuse the ge­nius of Ital­ian de­sign, the ge­nius of Ital­ian style and art with the very unique Swiss

ex­cel­lence and mas­tery of mi­cro-me­chan­ics and en­gi­neer­ing.”

But, more con­ser­va­tive col­lec­tors may, of course, pre­fer a com­pli­ca­tion such as the tour­bil­lon (let’s not for­get that 217 years ago, on June 26, watch­mak­ing pi­o­neer Abra­ham-louis Breguet ob­tained a patent for his most fa­mous horo­log­i­cal in­ven­tion), in a much more tra­di­tional pack­ag­ing, or a rose-gold watch with more el­e­gant case de­sign, and prefer­ably no ti­ta­nium (or car­bon) as a gen­eral rule for minute re­peaters. But at the same time, the watch in­dus­try would be so much less in­ter­est­ing if there weren’t a brand oc­ca­sion­ally chal­leng­ing the norms by, for ex­am­ple, in­tro­duc­ing some­thing like a stain­lesssteel sports watch with an oc­tag­o­nal de­sign in the 1970s. Babin is con­vinced that the minute re­peater in car­bon, for ex­am­ple, is “the great­est con­tem­po­rary large com­pli­ca­tion, be­cause it doesn’t look any­thing like a clas­sic grande com­pli­ca­tion. It is more rem­i­nis­cent of the dig­i­tal world than tra­di­tional haute hor­logerie.”

Af­ter hav­ing spent a lit­tle bit of time with both the tour­bil­lon and the au­to­mat­ics, we tend to agree: it is in­deed re­mark­able how much work and ded­i­ca­tion Bulgari has put into the col­lec­tion over the last 10 years, not only re­gard­ing the three com­pli­cated watches, but es­pe­cially when it comes to the al­most 10 times less ex­pen­sive Finis­simo Au­to­matic in steel or ti­ta­nium. An exclusive in-house move­ment equipped with a mi­cro-ro­tor to re­duce over­all height (which is the very essence of the con­struc­tion), a con­tem­po­rary, award-win­ning de­sign and a horo­log­i­cal record-breaker in­tended for pro­duc­tion in an un­lim­ited run, start­ing at a price of $12,200, is good news for any col­lec­tor look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent be­cause there isn’t any­thing sim­i­lar in the mar­ket. Un­doubt­edly, the highly lim­ited Octo Finis­simo Tour­bil­lon Au­to­matic is the thinnest me­chan­i­cal watch ever made in ev­ery cat­e­gory, mak­ing it equally im­pres­sive as an im­por­tant mile­stone in the his­tory of watch­mak­ing. With a price tag be­yond $100,000, how­ever, the watch is cer­tainly not for ev­ery­one. e same can be said for the vis­ually stun­ning (but more scratch­prone) rose-gold ver­sion.

So far, Bulgari has man­aged to in­cor­po­rate ev­ery new ma­te­rial ef­fort­lessly into the col­lec­tion. And while ti­ta­nium seemed to be the log­i­cal choice in the be­gin­ning, steel, rose gold and even car­bon have now be­come equally strong de­sign op­tions, with the more ac­ces­si­ble steel and ti­ta­nium ver­sions (we rec­om­mend the bracelet op­tion) rep­re­sent­ing an ideal al­ter­na­tive for col­lec­tors look­ing to spice up the di­rec­tion of their col­lec­tion – in 2018 and be­yond. —

The ul­tra-thin Octo Finis­simo mod­els are now avail­able in rose gold, ti­ta­nium, stain­less steel and car­bon (not pic­tured). They re­tain the same case fin­ish, an all-matte sand­blasted sur­face.

Bracelets mea­sure 2.5 mm and are equipped with a dou­ble fold­ing clasp.The black dauphine hands of the Finis­simo mod­els are skele­tonized and there­fore not filled with lu­mi­nous ma­te­rial.To get to the 3.95 mm of the case, Bulgari had to aban­don the idea of a trans­par­ent case­back. Instead, an open­ing at 6 o’clock shows the tour­bil­lon and the white-gold and alu­minum pe­riph­eral os­cil­lat­ing weight (with the Bulgari logo).

Clockwise from above:The in­di­vid­ual num­ber of the watch is en­graved on the crown of the Octo Tour­bil­lon. The watch is 1.2 mm thin­ner than the Octo Finis­simo with mi­cro-ro­tor next to it.

The BVL 288 au­to­matic move­ment in­cor­po­rates a fly­ing tour­bil­lon equipped with a ball­bear­ing sys­tem to con­trib­ute to the re­duced thick­ness.

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