Geneva Watch Days: Bvlgari Octo Roma Worldtimer

Bulgari Explores New Territories With The Octo Roma WorldTimer

If the Octo Finissimo reinvented the rules of watchmaking by creating a new modern icon, then Bulgari’s Octo Roma line is conquering other territories.

By Marco Gabella
Chairman & Executive Publisher

When joining in a connoisseur’s discussion about contemporary watches that demonstrate an iconic symbol of their time, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is inarguably the most cited before the subject moves to the creations of the independent rule breakers or the big tycoons.

Some may debate that the success of the Octo is only due to Gérald Genta’s heritage, but that would be a short-sighted view to explain the real reason for the  Finissimo’s success. Like modern architecture, the Octo case has its own codes and sophisticated tricks to adapt proportions, playing between space and light.

By cleverly mixing the size, materials, and finishing, Bulgari has imbued a sense of lightness into the Octo Finissimo. It’s a lightness that ultimately gives the owner the unique experience of wearing a watch that will act almost as a second skin on their wrist. Our Rhonda Riche perfectly demonstrates this shift in her article “The Bulgari Effect,” which recaps her interview with Antoine Pin, Managing Director of the Bulgari Watch Division.

But now, the Octo Roma, particularly with the new Octo Roma WorldTimer, Bulgari explores another territory of proportion for the Octo case that takes the Finissimo series in a different but complementary direction.

Octo Roma as a New Platform

By originally releasing the Octo Roma in stainless steel with the same integrated strap system first introduced on the Octo Finissimo series, Bulgari had, at first glance, issued a watch that seemed extraordinarily reminiscent of its extra slim cousin. But, in actuality, the Octo Roma displayed far greater complexity.

The stainless steel Octo Roma was 3.8mm at its thickest while, in comparison, the Octo Finissimo was only 2.35mm thick. However, due to a perfect balance of proportion and surface treatments, the original Octo Roma offered a sensation of lightness and comfort that still retained the brand’s modern avant-garde style.

Additionally, the Octo Roma was designed around the ever-reliable BVL 191 Solotempo calibre, which was the reason for the increased thickness. But the BVL 191 was less expensive to produce than the superlative BVL 138 Finissimo calibre. Thus, the Octo Roma retailed for $6,100 on a leather strap and $6,650 on the integrated stainless steel bracelet, almost half the price as the titanium Finissimo.

All About Proportions: The Bulgari Roma WorldTimer

Released at Geneva Watch Days 2021, Bulgari decided to use the Octo Roma case for the new Octo Roma WorldTimer. As the newest member of the Octo family, it is driven by the new integrated BVL 257 calibre, which was conceived and manufactured in Bulgari’s Manufacture in Le Sentier, Switzerland.

The BVL 257 is primarily a mechanical self-winding automatic worldtimer movement, displaying hours, minutes, and seconds with central hands and a 24-hour indicator along with 24 cities representing 24 different time zones using two rotating discs of only 6.03mm of thickness. As a function, the worldtimer is one of the most useful daily complications in a global world of friends and professionals contacts, especially now that many can travel again. Unsurprisingly then, Bulgari has come forward with another game-changer, but this time in the GMT/worldtimer category.

Both new Octo Roma WorldTimer models are 11.35mm thick with a comfortable diameter of 41mm. However, the WorldTimer Stainless Steel (ref. 103481) comes in stainless 904L stainless steel with the iconic satin-brushed and polished steel integrated bracelet. Meanwhile, the WorldTimer Steel DLC (ref. 103486) comes in a 904L steel case coated in black DLC with a black textured rubber strap.

Once again, the proportions are adapted to achieve the very best look and feel when being worn. Even on my tiny wrist, it sits close to the arm with the sensation of lightness and comfort that reminds me of wearing the super comfortable Octo Finissimo.

If the stainless steel version is an absolute stunner, then the black DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) demonstrates Bulgari’s contemporary interpretation of watch design, resulting in an extremely functional worldtimer watch.

Both combinations of the dial are as readable as are they are stylish: a blue sunburst dial on the WorldTimer Stainless Steel and sandblasted matte black dial on the WorldTimer Steel DLC. For the local time indication, you need only look to the central dial display, featuring the Bulgari logo, the “12” and “6” Arabic numerals, and a border of “Roman” baton indices.

These Octo Roma WorldTimers are a real triumph for Bulgari, having integrated the proportions of the Octo Roma case in such an elegant manner while also including the useful and desirable worldtimer function.

Finally, with both versions priced at $8,350, the Octo Roma WorldTimer brings Bulgari's modern style and practicality while remaining at an attractive price point.

Interview: Three Questions With Antoine Pin

For more information, visit the Bulgari website.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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