OK I know that’s a bold statement. Because there very few things we actually need in our lives. So what really is essential you ask? OK. Let’s say a genie popped out of your bottle Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux and asked, “Dude how can I make your life better?”
Suffice it to say you’d reply well, I need a woman with the body of Russian Olympic pole-vaulter Yelana Isinbaeva, a face like Dominique Sanda captured by Bernardo Bertolucci, with the sentient caring instincts of Mother Theresa, the capacity for witty cerebral fart joke discourse of Olivia Munn, the sexual voracity of Tori Black after learning that she was both ambidextrous and triple jointed, and the unfailing devoted loyalty of your golden retriever. And, it would be nice if she could cook and not spend all your money on shiny crap too.
But beyond that — what else do you actually need? Health. OK. Some kind of naturally aspirated vehicle with an excess of 450 horsepower. Definitely. Decent burgundy from a dope ass obscure climate like the undulating Petit Monts in Vosne Romanee or the afore mentioned Cros Parantoux, yep and probably triple -quilted toilet paper for a gentile denouement to your morning ablutions. And wait… two more seasons of Game of Thrones as incendiarily awesome as the one that just concluded. Valar Morghulis. But that’s about it right? Because, we men are simple.
Oh wait a second you also need a quality timepiece, right? Why? Because we men have so very little self-expressive possibilities. So few opportunities to paraphrase Marcel Proust and make visible the world seen by us and hidden to others. And the mechanical watch is both rife with expressive possibilities as well as acting as the perfect companion. It consumes only the energy you give to it and unfailing provides you with temporal navigation through life. While our first instinct is probably to strap on a sports watch, there is also definitely a place in our lives for an epically stylish dress watch. And with the blurring of lines between formality and sports wear with the advent of athleisure perpetuated by our fast paced, highly mobile lives dwelling within the urban landscape, a beautifully designed dress watch, can be worn to the boardroom, the gallery opening, to an elegant dinner and to a smoky underground boîte with equal aplomb.
But let’s face it the world of dress watches is a little, boring. For starters they are pretty much all round. Festooned with Arabic or Roman numerals, have flame-blued hands and have serenely restrained dials. I sense your eyes rolling back in your head as you feel an encroaching wave of somnambulance. But hang on because there is one specific timepiece in the world that has injected a massive dose of artful design-focused appeal into the dress watch world. It is the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Petite Seconds and it is simply one of the most beautifully designed objects on the planet.
You’ve probably guessed by now I like wine and the best white wines have this exhilarating tension between fruit and acidity that races across you palate leaving you breathless. The reason why the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Petite Seconds, yes I know long-ass name, is so thrilling to wear — is because you have precisely the same type of tension between its strong presence and ethereal leanness on your wrist. The watch’s case is a masterpiece of design with flaring, muscular facets mesmerizingly counter-punching you with its contrasting brushed and high polished surfaces and it’s altogether virile yet proportionally perfect 40mm diameter. Every thing about the watch is rich, from the dazzling sheen of its highly polished dial to the shimmer of its achingly lean indexes.
But then as you turn the watch on your wrist something magically happens. The Octo suddenly transforms into an object of almost incomprehensible lithe elegance. It’s so thin it almost feels as if someone has cut an image of it out of a magazine and glued it to your wrist. As such it slips effortlessly and discretely beneath a shirt cuff. Then if you take it off and flip it over and you’re stunned again by the richness of finish and the bold substantialism of its fast beating four-hertz balance wheel.
The funny thing is this: I never know if I like a watch until I’ve lived with it for a while. Interesting there are watches you think you’ll love that after a couple of weeks completely lose their appeal and you’re left with a head scratching “what-the-hell-was-I-thinking” moment of perplexity. The Octo is the opposite. It continues to give and give. Providing little epiphanies every time you strap it on. There is also something simultaneously modern and ancient about it. In some ways it’s a little reminiscent of my A series Royal Oak and Nautilus, both designed by Gerald Genta who also created the foundational frame work for the Octo. But it was really Bulgari’s head creative guru, Fabrizio Buonamassa and its master of all things watches, Guido Terreni who completely re-conceptualized Genta’s design, modernized it and incorporated the whole concept of ultra-thinness into the Octo. The job they done is masterful. If you’ve never tried one of these on, you need to. Or get that genie to prestidigitate one up for you, because you vitally need one of these in your life.
Here is a look at Bulgari’s mastery of unique competences in movement making, dial making and case making and how they were all brilliantly combined by Guido Terreni to create the extraordinary Octo Finissimo Petite Seconds.
The entire dial of the Octo Finissimo is thinner than a single index of a normal Bulgari Octo, or for that matter, on majority of watches. Bulgari makes the dial at 0.2mm in thinness. It goes through a special checking process to ensure that it is absolutely flat and that it is precisely 0.2mm. After a layer of lacquer is added to it, the final dial is precisely 0.3mm in thickness.
The polishing process on the dial ensures that the dial has a rich high gloss finish and also that it conforms precisely to the required standards.
The indexes of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo are grown in gold and copper, and are so thin they need to be transferred to the dial as if they are stickers.
The only part of the Octo Finissimo dial that is printed is the seconds track, because the seconds hand would not have enough clearance to pass over applied seconds markers.
The movement of the Octo Finissimo is the caliber BVL 128 and it is just 2.23 mm in thickness.
Guido Terreni wanted the watch to have enough power to last through the weekend without you having to rewind it. So he got Bulgari’s movement engineers to create a power reserve of 42 hours of power reserve. The watch actually has a little more than this, but Bulgari stops it at 42 hours to ensure that you only get good quality power throughout this.
The over all thickness of the watch is 5.15mm in thickness meaning that the dials, hands, case, sapphire back and sapphire crystal all occupy a scant 2.92mm. If you think about it, that’s pretty incredible.
The sapphire back is integrated into the case of the watch. That means the movement is placed into the watch from the front before the bezel is placed on top of it effectively sealing it in.
Bulgari experimented with different ways of constructing an ultra-thin case. Their final solution was to use a bezel with eight hollow threaded posts. They used their expertise in case making to fabricate this bezel with the posts integrated into it. Then they have to undertake the delicate processing of creating threads inside each of these.
Once the bezel is in place, eight tiny screws are fixed from the back case inside these posts to secure the case and ensure it’s water resistance to 3 ATM or 30 meters or 96 feet which is still deeper than most scuba divers will ever reach, that is if for some reason you would wear a beautiful ultra flat dress watch under water.
Finally in a world where classic style and sartorialism has returned in force, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is not only the perfect companion for the man of supreme elegance but also has a little bit of attitude. A man who likes to re-write the rules to suit himself — but always with elan.