Roma Holiday: Bulgari Wows with New Octo Romas Before Watches & Wonders 2023

The Rome-based maison presents new time-and-date and chronograph editions of its dressiest Octo: the Roma. Both feature eye-catching Clous de Paris dials and the brand’s toolless, quick-change strap system.

By Steven Rogers

Nothing says Bulgari watchmaking quite like the Octo does. Since the modern-day incarnation of this integrated-bracelet sports watch first appeared in 2012, it has become an emblem of the Italian brand with Swiss-based production and a veritable hit among watch fans.

While the original Octo Solotempo and sporty Octo Velocissimo have played their part in establishing the Octo’s rise, it is undoubtedly the ultra-thin world record-breakers of the Octo Finissimo line that have helped cement the Octo’s status as a 21st-century watchmaking icon.

Super Strong Identity

The Octo’s allure, of course, lies in its juxtaposition of geometric and circular forms: An octagon-shaped case, lower bezel, and dial that are unexpectedly counterpoised by a circular upper bezel. Of course, the Octo’s typical dial composition – dauphine hands, thick baton indices, and tall Arabic numerals at 6 and 12 o’clock – contributes to its super strong identity just as much.

The Octo also happens to be a neat expression of Bulgari’s Roman heritage. Yes, its octagonal design has its roots in the legacy of Gérald Genta, whose company and patents Bulgari acquired at the turn of the millennium. But the Octo design as we know it today was refined by Bulgari’s own Rome-based design team two decades ago.

Besides, as the brand is fond of pointing out, octagonal shapes are frequently found in Ancient Roman architecture, appearing in venerable structures like the Pantheon, Domus Aurea, and the Basilica of Maxentius.

Enter the Octo Roma

Despite the Octo’s resounding appeal, Bulgari recognized that its sharp lines and punchy presence could be a little too bold for some. So, in 2017, the brand addressed this by bringing out the Octo Roma.

The Octo Roma retained the Octo’s circle-within-an-octagon codes but presented a softer, less strait-laced architecture with fewer steps and angles, resulting in almost half the facets – 58 instead of 110 – of the original design. The result? The Roma is still an Octo but a chicer, more elegant, more understated incarnation.

Since then, the Octo Roma has been presented in natural and DLC-treated steel, precious metal, and two-tone bi-metallic cases, with lacquer, skeleton, and gem-set dials. It has shown itself to be a versatile platform, too, with complications, like time-and-date, tourbillon, worldtimer, and minute repeater, all forming part of the Octo Roma line-up.

New Octo Roma Automatic & Chronograph Models

That brings us to today, the day before Watches & Wonders 2023, where Bulgari will be showcasing a trio of updates to its time-and-date Octo Roma Automatic – with eye-catching Clous de Paris-decorated dials in white, blue, or anthracite black.

What’s more is, for the first time, the brand is unveiling an attractive pair of Octo Roma Chronographs with a black or blue Clous de Paris dial. Both models are equipped with Bulgari’s toolless, quick-change strap system.

The luxury maison has also announced four new ultra-high-end Octa Roma tourbillons.

However, today, we’ll focus on the new Octo Automatic and Chronograph models – the quintet of smart-looking steel sports watches designed for any occasion that are very much birds of a feather.

Coherent Design Language

As the proverbial “birds of a feather” (and both members of the Octo Roma line), it shouldn’t surprise you that the new Octo Roma Automatic and Octo Roma Chronograph feature a similar and coherent design language. Indeed, one could easily imagine them emanating from the same sketch pad.

In terms of their stainless-steel cases, returning are the softened “round but not round” lines that have come to characterize the Octo Roma family. However, in the case of these new models, the lines have been enhanced here by a mix of polished and brushed finishes.

Clous de Paris Dials

Decorating their dials is an intricate Clous de Paris motif, which is in keeping with the best traditions of Swiss haute horlogerie. This pattern, formed by a series of small pyramids, creates a lovely, subtle play of light.

On the Octo Roma Chronograph, the counters at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock have a concentric finish, helping them to stand out from the pyramidal surroundings. And for both models, the hour and minute hands, metallic indices, and numerals are treated with Super-LumiNova, for enhanced legibility.

In-House Automatic Movements

The new Octo Roma Automatic and Octo Roma Chronograph are powered by in-house, Swiss-made automatic movements packing 42-hour power reserves. For the time-and-date Automatic, it houses the Calibre BVL 191, while the Chronograph is the first in the collection to use the Calibre BVL 399.

In both cases, these movements are visible through the sapphire crystal display caseback with a Geneva wave-decorated mainplate and winding rotor visually offset by polished, matte, radial, and sun-brushed finishes on the components around it.

Interchangeable Strap System

Also, inset into the case on the back of both watches, you can glimpse the pusher for the toolless, quick-change strap system.

Yes, in a boon for owners, Bulgari will deliver two strap options at the time of purchase to allow the wearer to switch looks when the occasion calls for it. The first option is a polished and brushed stainless steel bracelet with a folding clasp; the second is a rubber strap – textured to echo the dial – with a pin buckle. Additional colored straps in rubber and alligator leather will be available for purchase separately.

Dimensions & Pricing

Featuring a 41mm x 9.15mm case, the anthracite, blue, and white dialed editions of the new Octo Roma Automatic will cost CHF 7,000 each. Meanwhile, the black and blue dial variants of the new Octo Roma Chronograph, which measures 42mm x 12.4mm, will each list for CHF 8,800.

For more information, please visit the Bulgari website.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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