By Nirja Dutt
It is not often that an icon is born in the same century as you, but the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is the exception to the rule, created only in 2014 it already has eight records in the bag, the skinny integrated bracelet wonder is truly one-of-a-kind.
A constant challenge for watchmakers, the battle of the skinniest watch has always been an enticing ploy for most brands. Whilst many have achieved this feat with a variety of innovations, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo series seems to have had it on the agenda since the get-go.
The story actually begins in 2004, which is technically when the Octo series was conceived in the house of Bulgari. By 2012, we saw the launch of the Bulgari Octo, which eventually disseminated into three lines: Finissimo, Roma and L’Originale. Whilst all three are widely loved, it’s the Finissimo series that has constantly broken records with its cutting edge (quite literally) movements that have skimmed their way to the top of the horology pyramid.
With a distinct hint of the Genta phenomenon, the sublime integrated bracelet watch has the ability to be enthralled in a variety of materials, each of which have been taken rather well by consumers, making it one of the house’s best selling timepieces. Although initially intended for men, it isn’t uncommon today to be found on the wrists of women thanks to its seamless structure. The eight faceted dial (also a nod to the name ‘octo’) has a unique take on the bracelet category as it wraps around the wrist whilst still maintaining its organic meets geometric design, making it instantly recognisable without being overtly obvious.
The Finissimo series presents a sharper take on the original pattern, with a stupendous amount of records under its belt in terms of thickness and movement. Beginning with 2014, which saw the Tourbillon Manual, crafted in platinum and stands at 1.95mm thick, 2016 gave rise to the Minute Repeater made in a titanium case that featured cut-out dial markers to resound sound better and stood at a mere 3.12mm thickness. By 2017, they had sandwiched down the Automatic to a crisp 5.15mm, making it the slimmest self-winding watch in the market that year. In 2018, a new wave tided over the series, presenting the Tourbillon Automatic with a full frontal view of the BVL 288 movement which is known for its peripheral winding rotor and the front row view was achieved with a total thickness of a whopping 3.95mm thickness. Rising to the challenge just like their predecessors, 2019 witnessed the launch of the thinnest Chronograph GMT Automatic, which was shrunk to a 3.30mm thickness making this watch the thinnest mechanical chronograph in watchmaking history! By 2020, the Finissimo had been skeletonised, with a chronograph and tourbillon down to 3.50mm and in 2021, a Perpetual Calendar came to life in a skimmed 5.80mm thickness.
“The Octo has been an iconic Genta design but with the Finissimo, Bulgari has pushed the boundaries of watchmaking and proven their prowess as one of the world’s leading watch manufacturers. We are really excited to showcase all of the Record-Breaking Octo Finissimo Watches in Mumbai for the first time for our collectors on 10th August!” smiles Karan Vaidya , Vice President Marketing and Operations at Rose, The Watch Bar . The closed door event will be held for a special group of collectors and friends of the house along with guests of The Hour Markers in Mumbai for a special showcase of the Record Breaking Octo series.
But all this seemed like just a run up to the 2022 release, the Octo Finissimo Ultra, a limited edition of only 10 pieces and it stands at a thickness of only 1.8mm… it’s as thin as a credit card, yes, you read that right. Remarkable to say the least, the watch is merely just the movement if you think about it.
“The challenge of this eighth record was the most difficult to overcome, since we had to break the rules not only in terms of movement design, but also of the case, the caseback, the bracelet and the folding clasp. To achieve this degree of thinness, you not only have to review your way of thinking, but you must also draw upon a wide range of skills, play with multiple materials and adapt to a multitude of new constraints. In this sense, the Octo Finissimo Ultra is unquestionably the ultimate complication in this vast field of possibilities represented by ultra-miniaturisation,” says Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bulgari’s product creation executive director.
Undoubtedly no better way to celebrate the big 10th anniversary of this iconic timepiece, the sandblasted titanium lends itself as the perfect carrier of the mechanical movement. To reimagine the structure of the watch, the hours have been placed off-centre like the minutes with the seconds cutting into the subdial. Each watch is also emblazoned with QR code engraved on the barrel’s ratchet wheel, leading the owner to an exclusive NFT artwork and access to a digital universe dedicated to their watch. Each timepiece is available with an authentication and uniqueness guarantee provided by blockchain technology.
But the celebrations for the big 10 don’t stop here, Bulgari has also launched two new anniversary editions that house the automatic and GMT automatic chronograph movements respectively, each of which come with a sketchy exterior commemorating Stigliani’s signature style of ‘sketching’ the timepiece at 40mm in the line’s signature titanium.
But this is just the beginning of the Octo, from where we stand and what we’ve witnessed over the past decade, it seems like there is plenty more up Bulgari’s sleeve.