Bulgari OCTO: a collection worthy of being antique
In 1884, the Greek creator Sotirio Bulgari founded the brand which celebrates its 130th anniversary this year.
We sometimes wonder what our world would be like without the imprint of mighty Rome. Well, it would certainly be different. There is no contemporary object that doesn’t have a hint of Roman heritage. There is no contemporary law that hasn’t got an element of Roman law. There is no contemporary building without some architectural detail inspired by Rome: the contrasting elements of its forum, its hills… This capital has managed to preserve the magic of being at the same time a modern metropolis and the protector of a rich past, dating back over 2,000 years.
Watchmaking since 1975
The Bulgari maisonis part of the same context and splendid legacy. A specialized goldsmith trade in its initiation, it turned towards watchmaking in 1975 and created the Bulgari Roma and later the iconic Bulgari-Bulgari in 1977. The latter is a reference in itself with its timeless codes.
When LVMH acquired Bulgari in 2011, it gave new light to high-potential collections and created the Octo collection that was launched in Rome in June 2012. It was a well thought-out designer collection and created a bridge between the stylistic universe of Gérald Genta’s creations – a company Bulgari acquired in the early 1990s – and the codes associated with the Italian firm. At BaselWorld, Jean Christophe Babin – Bulgari’s new CEO – introduced a new range of timepieces that pays tribute to women, with an uncomplicated and very Latin design.
As Jean Babin stated when he presented his latest creations during a private encounter: “the design of the Octo is a signature in itself”. Clearly, the timepiece has a very powerful signature that inevitably catches the eye. Regardless of whether we like it or not, it cannot go unnoticed since difference builds identity and we have a few good examples of this in older pieces. Its case with 110 different facets was made in Saignelégier, Switzerland, and its production was challenging because it had to be 100% precise. This year, watchmakers have made a point of extending the range of available functionalities but also of pushing the boundaries in terms of production.
Octo Finissimo Tourbillon
Ultra-thin watches are amongst the list of watches that must figure prominently in the collections of prestigious brands. Already appreciated in its basic form, this type of timepiece has greater significance when it is driven by a complication as exceptional as the tourbillon. In the present case, this 40 x 5 mm platinum watch is very impressive. Its fascinating size has made it the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch of its category. However, record setting aside, it almost immediately became the “must-have” accessory for an evening out or to combine with a suit made by the best Italian of British tailors. Its case features a design inspired by Roman architecture that protects a manual-winding mechanical caliber driven by a flying tourbillon against any exterior aggression. Measuring only 1.95 mms thick, the caliber is extremely thin. To really understand what these few millimeters represent, we must take into account that the whole movement is composed of 249 parts and thinner than a CHF5 coin - as thick as a dime or slightly thicker than a 10 pence coin. The mechanism has been carefully finished and features a 55-hour power reserve, a ball-bearing train and a variable-inertia balance of 21,600 vibrations per hour for the tourbillon.
This watch – delicate and powerful at the same time– illustrates with supporting evidence that Bulgari has all the technical elements and in-house talents necessary to be a top-ranking watchmaking brand.
Octo Finissimo Small Seconds
The Finissimo – also an ultra-thin watch exhibiting the same thinness as the Tourbillon – features off-centered small seconds at 7 o’clock. This is quite an original and rare positioning, which goes beyond the iconic Octo 40-mm platinum case. It is a 2.23-mm in-house, hand-wound mechanical movement.
As you might suspect, a range of watch products cannot lack a chronograph. This is not due to the fact that its functionalities are most useful in the watchmaking world but rather because it is a highly demanded product by the general public. Eradicating it is completely out of the question. Therefore, the maison presented one this year. First impressions often hit the mark and when you look at the watch for the first time, its balance impresses you. This is most probably due to its 41.5 mms, which is a rather standard size for chronographs.
Yet we should be careful before judging a case by its volume. Indeed, this is a very subjective value in watchmaking and it is enough for the case to have a shape other than the usual rounded form to give a false impression of size. In the present case, the balance between the thickness and the diameter highlights the rough and strong codes of this complex watch available in either pink gold or steel. Purists will appreciate seeing the finishes on the BVL 328 caliber through a sapphire crystal. The caliber was inspired by Zenith’s famous El Primero and adapted to Bulgari standards. Bulgari produces its own quality movements and it has wisely chosen to use a caliber that is a major historical reference (launched in 1969). This caliber is also a reference in terms of precision (36,000 vibrations per hour) and functionality (column-wheel for the chronograph’s functions and instantaneous date leap in aperture).
The 38-mm timepiece, available in either pink gold or steel, completes and enriches the brand’s range of products. Measuring 41.5 mm, it is not appropriate for every wrist. The piece meets the requirements of experts who want only the best and it is driven by an in-house caliber, which is visible through the crystal back.
Equipped with 42 hours of power reserve and with 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz), this 11.5-lines heart displays a center seconds-hand and the date in an aperture at 3 o’clock. On the whole - and this is an important point - the movement’s finish is of high-quality and experts will be able to check every nook and cranny and see how important it is to be meticulous.