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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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 SGD186,000/ EUR140,000/ approx. USD124,000.
Calibre: Calibre BVL268SK
Type: mechanical winding movement
Dimensions: Ø 32.60mm, 1.95mm height
Power reserve: 52 hours
Frequency: 3Hz / 21’600 vph
Functions: hours, minutes, flying tourbillon
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
Material: hand-stitched black alligator leather
Buckle: platinum pin buckle