We took the newly announced Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT for a week’s spin, and present you this detailed review.
Review: Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT
Retail price is EUR 17,000 inclusive of VAT / USD 16,500 before taxes.
The Octo Finissimo line from Bvlgari has been leading the brand’s contemporary line with its strong masculine lines. The design codes were reinforced this year with the new sports Octo Finissimo S line – now joined by the new Chronograph GMT in a magnificent blue dial. We had one for a week to wear and try out, and this is our comprehensive review. The Chronograph GMT was previously released in March 2019 as a non S version (30m water resistance rating) in a matte finished titanium in a monochromatic colour scheme, at a higher price tag of USD 18,000.
The case, dial and hands
The case is in the now classic octagonal shape with a round bezel which is characteristic of the Octo Finissimo S line. The S lineup carries a deeper water resistance rating of 100m instead of 30m for the regular Finissimo line.
The case features multiple layers of angular lines, each faceted and stacked on each other, topped by a round bezel. The overall aesthetics is one which conveys a strong, masculine feel. With the alternate facets presenting a mirror polished surface and a brushed matte surface offering a multitude of magnificent light angles to the watch. The 43mm nominal case diameter looks and wears surprisingly large, with the illusion carried forth by the svelte 8.75mm thick case.
The case finishing is superb. With a sunray brushed bezel presenting a matte surface which is a beautiful contrast to the mirror polished surfaces in its immediate juxtaposition. The polishing is very well done, giving a mirror reflection which is distortion free, similar to what the Japanese manufacturers call zaratsu.
The dial is octagonal shaped and lives within the round bezel, framed by edges which feature rounded joints. The dial is finished in a lacquer blue which is has a lustrous deep hue. The indices are highly polished, faceted bar shaped for the hour markers with SuperLuminova infilling. The markers are truncated by the sub-dials arranged in on the bottom half of the dial. The sub-dials are the continuous seconds hand at 9, the 24 hour hand at 3, and the chronograph totalizer counting to 30 minutes at 6.
A huge 12 in arabic adorns the top of the dial just above the branding “BVLGARI” logo. An octagonal track of minute markers surround the dial components at the periphery. The hour and minute hands are Dauphine shaped, and finished in a high polish, and are also faceted to catch light in different angles, presenting a glittering look as one moves the watch on one’s wrist. The hour and minute hands are also infilled with lume to allow good legibility in the dark. The chronograph seconds hand is a thin needle like affair with a rhomboid counter weight, and also finished in a high polish, with no lume infill.
Interestingly, there is only 1 hour hand which can be moved in one hour steps by pushing the button at 9 o’clock. The GMT time is indicated only by the sub-dial at 3.
The dial is well laid out, and clear in the indications, making it highly legible both in the light as well as in the dark. We had no trouble telling the time in any lighting condition.
We find that in operation, the chronograph buttons are rather stiff to operate, requiring a significant amount of force for each action of start, stop and reset, that it leaves a small dent in the fingers. On the other hand, the button at 9 o’clock which advances the hour hand by one hour intervals is very light in operation, and we find that we have accidentally advanced the hour hand on several occasions by simply flexing our wrists.
The bracelet deserves a section on its own. Truly integrated to the case, such that the lugless case transitions smoothly into the bracelet in an elegant and beautiful fashion. The bracelet is made of brushed U shaped outer link components held in the middle by highly polished inner links. This juxtaposition between the brushed surface and high mirror polish is magnificent and catches light very beautifully.
We have stopped doing wrist rolls for a while, but the play of light on the polished surfaces in juxtaposition with the brushed finished parts are so beautiful, we thought its a good idea.
We do note that the bracelet is sized a bit too large for the author’s hand, and wears loosely in the video.
The movement: BVL 318
The movement is the Bvlgari in-house designed and manufactured BVL 318. This movement is ultra thin and features a GMT function in addition to the two counter chronograph which controlled by a column wheel. This chronograph mechanism is not visible from the case back, From the case back, the view is of the top plate, with the peripheral rotor offering an open window.
The movement is well designed, and is very finely finished. All the essential haute horlogerie elements are addressed very well, with an emphasis on the fineness of the finishing, perhaps an Italian styling which is distinctly more elegant and exudes more finesse than the equivalent Swiss, German or even Japanese finish. This is not to say that one is better than the other, but we are noting stylistic differences.
For more details and a deconstruction of the movement, please look at Peter Speake’s The Naked Watchmaker.
The combination of a chronograph with GMT is one which we would have thought been one which is popular, but looking through our archives we only manage to find candidates from Grand Seiko. The entire range sharing the 9R86 and 9R96 Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT is suitable as comparison. However, all are all spring drive movements, and none ultra thin, though there are many options to choose from. From the basic SGBC 003 (replaced with SBGC 203 which retails for USD 8,200) and the Black Ceramic series (limited edition, completed. The similar SGBC 231 in titanium retails for USD 12,900). Including their latest announcements in the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT: SBGC240, Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition (retail USD 18,600).
The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S Chronograph S ticks all the right boxes and makes the heart race faster. The faceted case with faceted indices and hands, each with alternative bright polished surfaces with textured brushed ones catches the light in fascinating ways. Totally mesmerizing, and made one to just stare at one’s wrist while making small twisting gestures just for the pleasure of it. This is a seriously beautiful watch.
During the time it was with us, it endeared itself to us not only with its handsome good looks, but also with its flawless performance, both in timekeeping as well as in chronograph stop watch functions. We already noted that the chronograph is a bit stiff to operate while the second timezone button is a bit too easy to engage, but other than that, we note no other operational quirks.
Photographed at our studio with the Leica SL2-S and Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro with Profoto strobes.
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT Specifications
Reference Number: 103467
Case Material: Steel, satin finish
Dial Color: Blue sunray
Lume: Hand and markers
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Satin-finished full steel bracelet
Caliber: Bulgari BVL 318
Functions: Hours, minutes, running seconds, GMT, chronograph with 30-minute totalizer
Power Reserve: 55 hours
Winding: Automatic with peripheral platinum rotor
Frequency: 28,800 vph
Pricing & Availability
Availability: from June 2021