Bulgari wows the crowd with yet another fascinating addition to the Octo collection. If you’ve no time to read the full review, the must-know is that the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic measures only 3.95 mm thick, yet it still houses a tourbillon and a 52 hour self-winding movement. Award winning and an incredibly good-looking watch, the Octo is steadily becoming the definition of ultra-thin modern design timepieces.
The Case and Dial
Sized at 42 mm in diameter and 3.95 mm in thickness, the titanium case is treated with a sandblasted finish. For a watch this thin and light, it is almost surprising that the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon could turn out looking both sporty and simultaneously elegant.
While we marvel at the engineering feat of such a thin tourbillon, we need to give credit to the genius designers behind this work. Their ability to conceptualize a design that requires extremely high levels of tolerance, truly reflects their deep understanding of precision engineering and at the same time, their creative flair. From a production point of view, the research required and low tolerance for manufacturing error must mean quite a sum to produce the watch. We estimate that the manufacturing specifications for every single piece and part on the dial or the movement has to be accurate up to at least 10 times that of a thicker timepiece. These processes test the extremities of precision engineering and is something that could not be achieved without today’s modern equipment. With this in mind, our appreciation of the watch has to be heightened relative to thicker timepieces, even for those who would deny that ultra-thin is not a complication.
The dial side is openworked, and is essentially showing the upper details of the movement. A gun metal, greyish colour schematic is used, congruent with the rest of the case design. The bridges, gears, screws, screw wells and other visible parts are very well-finished. Dressage finish on the top, the bridges are also finely finished with beveled edges and cut-out inward angles, yet again, a testimony of the skill required by the watch maker working the thin plates. To add icing to the cake, the tourbillon is the center of attraction on the dial, especially for its thin yet multi-angle polished stems.
Much of the success of the watch lies in a secret sauce, the movement. Measuring just 1.95mm thick the caliber BVL 268 sets the record for the thinnest automatic ultra-thin tourbillon. Using a peripheral oscillating weight, the thickness of the movement is kept low while still achieving 55 hours of power reserve and beats at a rate of 3Hz. The new automatic sets a new record after the brand’s 2014 launch of the hand-winding Octo Finissimo tourbillon. That watch was the thinnest of all ultra-thin tourbillons in 2014, measuring just 5mm thick. Prior to Bulgari’s offering, the previous record holder was the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Thin Automatic 5377, at 7 mm thick which also uses a peripheral rotor.
Considering the difficulty in manufacturing this extremely thin case and movement, Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic shows the brand’s dedication to testing the limits of watch making. While many other mainstream brands choose the easier path of reproducing homages, changing dial colours, bezel material, and in general, creating simple product variations, Bulgari is positioning itself as a forward-thinking brand. It is a relief that their research efforts are bearing fruit. The watch is limited to 50 pieces and is competitively priced at US$118,000.
Specifications and Price
Model: Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic
Case Material: Sandblasted titanium
Dial: Skeletonized open dial
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Sandblasted titanium bracelet with triple folding clasp
Caliber: BVL 288
Functions: Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon
Power Reserve: 55 hours
Winding: Automatic with peripheral rotor
Frequency: 3 Hz (21,600 vph)
Limited Edition: 50 pieces