Less Is More

When it comes to finely crafted, elegantly styled, ultra-thin mechanical watches,
the Bulgari Octo Finissimo collection is in a class all its own.


By Scott Hickey
February 1, 2019

In the five years since the Octo Finissimo debuted in 2014, the collection has set four world records for the thinness of its movements. The streak began the first year with the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon (1.95mm), and continued in 2016 with the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater (3.12mm), the Octo Finissimo Automatic (2.23mm) in 2017, and the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic (1.95mm) just last year.

As impressive as those records are, the watches were much more than a pretense for the Bulgari Manufacture to flex its remarkable micro-engineering muscle. Instead, they reveal a clear snapshot of a brand that’s deftly straddling the crossroads between innovative mechanics and chic aesthetics.

In the words of Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin: “Combining design with extraordinary engines is about creating legends.”

To understand just how much the collection has resonated in the watch community, look no further than Bulgari’s constant presence at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genéve (GPHG) — a prestigious award ceremony widely considered to be the watchmaking equivalent to the Oscars. In the last five years, watches from the Octo Finissimo collection have been nominated eight times. In 2017, Bulgari took home two GPHG awards, winning the Tourbillon and Escapement Watch Prize for its Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton and the Men’s Watch Prize for its Octo Finissimo Automatic.

It’s been an amazing run for the Octo Finissimo, one that continues to gain momentum.

The Octo Finissimo Automatic rose-gold case is sandblasted for a supple feel and a warm glow.

 

PLAYING THE ANGLES
The Octo Finissimo case has been a pillar of the Bulgari men’s watch collection since 2012. And while complications will always grab the headlines, don’t underestimate how challenging it was for Bulgari to create a case that reflects the maison’s trademark elegance in a design that’s flexible enough to be dressed up or down.

Naturally, the Octo has eight sides, but Bulgari subtly softens its angular profile by adding a round bezel on top. The result is a sophisticated sculptural form that takes inspiration from the arches found at the Maxentius Basilica in Rome. Bulgari instinctively filters that architectural influence through the eyes of a gifted jewelry designer to create a case that glitters like a metal gemstone, where light flashes off its angled edges and dances across its sandblasted surfaces.

That dazzling effect is amplified further in the version of the Octo Finissimo Automatic that comes on an integrated bracelet. Available in either stainless steel, titanium or rose gold, the bracelet’s matching articulated links are faceted as well to reflect even more light.

But your eyes can only see part of the story. What you can’t appreciate from pictures is just how silky and comfortable the bracelet’s sandblasted texture feels wrapped around the wrist. It’s fair to say, there’s nothing on the market quite like Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo bracelet.

Subtle shades distinguish the darker titanium version from the lighter one in steel.

 

SMALL WONDERS
As good as the Octo Finissimo Automatic looks and feels, Caliber BLV 138 is the unmistakable star here. With a thickness of just 2.23mm, it holds the record as the slimmest automatic-winding movement available today. To put that into perspective, two dimes stacked on top of one another, are thicker than this movement.

Caliber BLV 138 is housed in a 40mm, ultra-thin case that’s 5.15mm thick. A sapphire crystal on the back lets you see the platinum micro-rotor as it spins to wind the movement, which holds up to 60 hours of reserve power. The clear caseback also reveals the circular graining and Côtes de Genéve finishes that Bulgari applies by hand to decorate the movement.

Bulgari makes the world’s slimmest automatic-winding movement, Caliber BLV 138.

 

For those who appreciate finely finished calibers, Bulgari makes a skeletonized version of the Octo Finissimo that is out of this world. Like the Octo Finissimo Automatic, the case of the Octo Finissimo Skeleton is 40mm wide, 5.15mm thick, and comes in either stainless steel, titanium or rose gold. But instead of an automatic-winding movement, the skeleton version is equipped with a hand-wound movement (Caliber BLV 128SK) that’s slightly thicker at 2.35mm. It also includes a handy indicator on the dial that makes it easy to track the watch’s 65-hour power reserve.

The Octo Finissimo Skeleton focuses attention on the high quality of Bulgari’s hand-finishing.

 

To achieve this skeletonized look, Bulgari removes large sections of the movement’s plates and bridges, leaving behind only what was necessary to maintain the mechanism’s structural integrity. This metal filigree reveals the intricate construction of the in-house movement, which is normally hidden behind the dial. The Octo Finissimo Skeleton usually comes on a strap, but Bulgari does offer one version on an integrated bracelet. Handsome and thin (5.37mm), the black case is made of titanium treated with black Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC). The rich glow of the rose-gold hands adds contrast against the dark background, which makes it easy to read the time, count the seconds and check the power reserve.

With the Octo Finissimo Skeleton and the rest of its ultra-thin watches, Bulgari is showing the world of haute horlogerie how to go big by going small.

Click here to view the Bulgari collection online at Cellini Jewelers.

This DLC-coated titanium Octo Finissimo Skeleton is the only version Bulgari makes with a bracelet.