A DIFFERENT KEY
Uncovering the world’s thinnest – and possibly stealthiest – minute repeater.
Minute repeaters tend to conjure images of classic dress watches, sometimes elaborately decorated and oftentimes chunky. Chiming functions are, after all, among the toughest to assemble and their romantic history tends to skew designs towards equally old-school styles. But in 2016, Bulgari released a repeater that was neither traditional nor hefty. In fact, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater holds the record for the slimmest minute repeater watch in the world – and you probably would not even know, at a glance, that it contains this coveted complication.
Let us fi rst marvel at its svelte profile. With a thickness of 6.85mm, it eff ectively blows the competition out of the water. Recent examples include the JaegerLeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 11 (7.9mm) and Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra-Thin Calibre 1731 (8.09mm). Bulgari may not have as long a history in slim mechanics as, say, Piaget, but its ultra-thin machines mean business. Just two years ago, the brand grabbed the world record for thinnest tourbillon, with its 1.95mm-thick Octo Finissimo Tourbillon.
To bring to life the 3.12mm-thick Calibre BVL 362 of the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater, Bulgari employed common ultra-thin techniques such as fixing the gongs directly to the case, attaching the mainspring barrel and crown wheel only to the bottom plate so the other bridges never tower over the barrel, and using a fl at balance spring instead of a taller overcoil hairspring. Additionally, all 362 components in the movement had to be miniaturised, resulting in perilously dainty parts like the 3.3mm-wide centrifugal strike governor (and its two inertia blocks). Despite the tiny proportions that make them exceptionally tricky to handle, the parts are beautifully fi nished with Cotes de Geneve, circular graining and chamfering. Operating at 3Hz, the movement offers a power reserve of 42 hours.
The case is the other star in this aural masterpiece. Titanium works well with the austere Octo case, and its strength is invaluable in such a slight timepiece. But Bulgari also had the repeater’s sound in mind. Precious metals might be preferred for their value, but titanium’s low density transmits sound much more effectively. The dial is also made of titanium, and has incised hour markers and a small seconds counter to help the chimes travel. The pusher, located at nine o’clock, is equipped with an “all or nothing” device, which prevents it from being partially depressed and resulting in an incomplete chiming sequence.
All this is packaged in a sandblasted grey case with a matte dial; the furthest thing from fl ashy. It’s a repeater that could easily be dwarfed by shinier accoutrements, but it could signify a growing demand for contemporary, understated complications for collectors who understand that recordshattering timepieces don’t have to look as bold as their achievements.
01 Incisions in the titanium dial of this slender minute repeater help to amplify sound. 02 A total of 362 scaled-down components form the beautifully finished Calibre BVL 362.