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.
| 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.