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Review: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette

Or how Bulgari takes a record-breaking Tourbillon and strips it from all the unnecessary metal
by Dan-Andrei Kluska on September 29, 2017
Positives

• Bold and spectacular appearance: 110 facets with brushed and polished finish, skeleton movement
• Excellent design of the record 1.95mm flying tourbillon BVL268SK

Negatives

• The relative new in-house movement can be considered a risky investment. But Bulgari is renowned for their stellar customer service and there were no issues reported.

Bulgari established an undisputable place on the Haute Horlogères eschequier. In 40 years of presence in the horological world, the brand settled to an easily recognisable style and record-breaking designs. Since the rise of the ultra-thin Octo, Bulgari is a strong voice in the world of slim watches. In 2014, the Italian-Swiss maison released the 1.95mm thin tourbillon. Baselworld 2016 was the witness 0f the Octo Répétition Minute, the world’s thinnest minute repeater. A year later, in the same location, Bulgari unveiled a new horological creation, the Octo Finissimo Automatique.  Another marvel revealed this year is the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette, which we review today. The new Octo Tourbillon is the skeletonized version of the 2014’s release, adorned with beautiful finishes. This is our hands-on review with live pictures.

 

Review: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette

With an octagonal shape, now part of Bulgari’s DNA and a record-breaking calibre, the BVL268, the new watch brings the best of Bulgari. Their excellently built quality and detail of the finishes assure Tourbillon Squelette a place at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. We will talk about the case and the movement, since the dial is missing, in a story of the precious and the beast.

 

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton

The undisputable champion of horological miniaturisation, Bulgari took the beautiful BVL268 calibre, made it even more interesting by skeletonisation, put it in the exceptional platinum OCTO case obtaining, at the end, a breathtaking piece of modern technology. Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette is a lovely wrist presence.

 

The case, dial and hands

The now classical Octo case, a trademark of Bulgari, features the same design elements as the other watches from the Finissimo collection. The multi-layered design is a game of shapes and forms. In a basic square, a complex polygon was cut to make place for the strap. The lugs are straight but feature a deep chamfered edge and steps. It’s a harmonious integration of the strap and lugs into the entire watch’s design. Another octagonal slim layer is used to keep the round bezel. While the crystal is round, the inner bezel is, faithful to the Octo base idea, another octagonal shape.

 

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette

The absence of a proper dial made Bulgari find other solutions for the normal dial markings: the logo is discreetly placed at 12 o’clock via black ink transfer on the back of the sapphire crystal.

 

Despite the complex looking shape, with multi-faceted design, the Octo’s platinum case has only a two parts construction. The back case is held by eight polished head screws. The 40mm case is hiding the true nature of the precious metal with a lovely brushing of the watch face. The body is straight brushed, with the bezel featuring a circular brushing for a nice contrast. The passing from linear to circular brushing is done using the nicely polished intermezzo body-bezel. This element goes hand in hand with the polished chamfering of the lugs. The result is an awesome watch case. The case back is polished and bears a series of stamped information.

 

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette

The crown is made of platinum with a black ceramic insertion. To be fully wound, are need it 65 full turns. For this, Bulgari developed a nice electronic pocket winder. This tool is pressed on the crown and will automatically wind the watch until the maximum power is reached. The electronic winder is equipped with a sensor which will stop the winding, the movement being protected against accidental over-winding. The tools itself is a nice gimmick but a nod to the pursuit of excellence.

 

The platinum crown is decorated with a beautiful ceramic insert matching the black DLC finishes of the calibre. The crown construction is not only marvellous, it also permits an ease of use with a pleasant feeling for setting and winding.

The 5mm tall case has a water resistance of 30m, sufficient for accidental splash or washing but definitively not suitable for swimming. The wrist presence of the Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette is astounding. The watch’s design and impressive numbers for size make the watch suitable for a wide range of wrists. It is by definition an elegant watch, easy enough not to bother, heavy enough not to forget that you wear it.  Even the alligator strap had to be made especially thinner to have the proper look and feel.  Octo Finissimo is a comfortable piece with an eye-catching look.

 

Bulgari Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette dial

On the non-existing dial, the legibility is achieved by the contrast of the faceted hands and the black DLC treatment of the plates and bridges. Moreover, the polished hands contrasts nicely on the satin-brushed decoration of the movement. Note the elaborate filigree work of ornamentation of the tourbillon cage.

 

The dial is completely missing to make room for the raison d’être of the watch – the skeletonisation. And by making room we talk about highlighting the Tourbillon Squelette movement and not about the physical space. Bulgari name is printed on the back of the coated top sapphire.

As hands, Bulgari decided to go with the same faceted dauphine hands as the original Finissimo Tourbillon. The openwork hands have a pretty good contrast with the movement’s black DLC finish. But as many other skeleton watches, the legibility is not the strongest point of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette.

The movement: BVL268SK

The movement of the new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette is the record-breaking, 32.60mm x 1.95mm, BVL268, passed through a process of skeletonization and decoration. The 52 hours power reserve is achieved with a 3Hz balance wheel.

To achieve this impressive numbers in terms of size and specification, the BVL268SK uses ball bearings. The traditional pivot was removed to reduce even more the thickness, the tourbillon cage being also mounted on small ceramic ball bearings. This design proved its reliability from the initial release in 2014 (full review here).

 

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton

The movement design is balanced and pleasantly decorated. Bulgari calibre BVL268SK uses ball bearings for a deeper miniaturisation. In the picture the bearings used for the barrel are clearly visible. Though this technology is not new, it was first used before in the 70s but the technology then was not sophisticated enough for it to catch on. Only the modern design and tooling made possible a robust and reliable construction.

 

Moving on to the tourbillon, we can say this particular component is outrageously good looking. The cage has three fork arms well finished.  The entire tourbillon appearance is from both sides interesting and attractive.

The mainspring barrels is also mounted with ball bearings. The entire design uses a total of 13 jewels, comparing with the traditional number of 17, as in a normal movement.

The Tourbillon Squelette’s BVL268SK has 253 parts. Parts of the movement were skeletonised, like the baseplate to create mechanical poetry. The straight brushed main plate and bridges are coated with the black DLC. A high contrast is achieved with the circular satin-brushed gear wheels. The flying tourbillon with polished arms is highlighted, catching the main focus and making reasonable legibility at a glance of the dial.

Another important feature of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette and BVL268SK is day by day use. Setting the watch, winding it and reading the time is done with an impressive visual feedback. The light trapped between the black DLC components or reflected by the polished hands or tourbillon creates a mesmerizing effect and, in the end, pleasure.

Competitive landscape

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette is a record-breaking piece. We said that before, but we want to focus on the uniqueness of this watch. Priced at SGD186,000/EUR140,000, the watch has a rather competitive price, hard to beat due to the number of characteristics offered.

An interesting skeleton tourbillon was released in 2013 by Arnold & Son: the Ultra-thin Tourbillon Escapement “UTTE” Skeleton watch. At 8.34mm thick, the watch was the thinnest tourbillon until being dethroned one year later by Bulgari. The calibre A&S8200 was specially redesigned to reach the impressive 3.3mm thickness. Featuring excellent finishes, the watch was limited to 50 pieces and had a price of CHF72,900 or USD76,750.

Cartier has the beautiful Rotonde de Cartier Flying Tourbillon Skeleton. Limited to 100 pieces and priced at USD130,000, the watch is a big 45mm white gold marvel. This timepiece is powered by the Calibre 9455, a manual hand-wound in-house calibre with Geneva Seal for magnificent decoration and finishes.  In the actual collection, the Rotonde the Cartier Flying Tourbillon has a price of EUR144,000 or USD143,000 (excl. taxes).

We recommend as a separate reading two articles in which various aspects of thin watches are in a debate: Unbearable Thinness of Watchmaking Part 1 and Part 2.

Concluding thoughts

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Squelette is a much bolder statement than the initial variant. The watch has a complex, interesting construction with 110 facets. It is a beautiful timepiece, outside and inside, but it also is a versatile piece going well as a dress watch, as a powerful statement from the wearer’s side. But this watch is made to be worn, to be enjoyed every day and not only on special occasions. The awesome look of the tourbillon can be a relaxing view, a conversation starter or motive of envy. The size and wearability qualify it for a single watch collector, as well for an avid haute horlogerie consumer.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton Specification and Price

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton, Ref. 102719 BGO40PLTBXTSK, has a price tag of  SGD186,000EUR140,000/ approx. USD124,000.

 

Movement

Calibre: Calibre BVL268SK

Type: mechanical winding movement

Dimensions: Ø 32.60mm, 1.95mm height

Jewels: 13

Power reserve: 52 hours

Frequency: 3Hz / 21’600 vph

Functions: hours, minutes, flying tourbillon

 

Case

Material: platinum

Dimensions of the case

Diameter: 40mm diameter and 5m thickness

Crystal: sapphire with anti-reflective coating

Crown: platinum with black ceramic insertion

Caseback: see-through sapphire

Water resistance: 30m

 

Strap

Material: hand-stitched black alligator leather

Buckle: platinum pin buckle

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