For anyone creative, the pursuit of inspiration is a constant toil, simultaneously seeking something undefined and desperately chasing the spark of brilliance which dances upon the horizon, just within sight. For those whose creativity and passion are their vocation, this hunt becomes a near constant presence – a Sisyphean struggle both daunting and adored. For Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, the Product Creation Executive Director at Bulgari Horlogerie, that guiding light was to be found not within the annals of Bulgari’s history, but within the history of the late Italian Renaissance.
The Octo Finissimo has been an eye catching, category defining timepiece since it was first released in 2014. With its multidimensional case and near decade of record shattering iterations, it’s a collection that will be both lauded for its audacity and studied for the sophistication of its design for years to come. This year Bulgari brings us the Octo Finissimo Tuscan Copper, a subtle, contemplative, yet still no less striking example of just how dynamic the Octo truly can be. “But where does 16th century art come into frame” you might say? Where else, but with color.
The turn of the 16th century in what is now known as Italy brought with it a century of seismic shifts in terms of virtually every aspect of life. From spirituality to the very political landscape that built and maintained the walls of great cities like Rome and Florence, all of the conventions of day to day life were strained, tested, or shattered by war, plague, and belief. It was amongst this tectonic time that an artistic style known as Mannerism would grow out of the idealism and formality of the High Renaissance painters. Like the rebellious youth of many generations, the Mannerists began to challenge and test the confines of traditional painting, stretching the artistic bounds both figuratively and literally in the form of human proportions.
Colors became bolder, more vibrant and flowing like the fabric of the robes they were used to depict. Scenes of Biblical and historical import were depicted not in the confined, structured narrative forms that had been seen in the works of Raphael or Botticelli, but instead were splayed out in dynamic, sometimes violent torrents of emotion, color and action – mirroring the chaos of the day. Amidst these students of the Florentine school was an artist by the name of Jacopo da Pontormo.
It is from out the works of this man that Fabrizo Buonamassa Stigliani found inspiration to create the dial on the Octo Finissimo Tuscan Copper, its soft pink pastel tone and subtle sunray finishing glistening with metallic vigor. The case itself is slim elegant, a mere 6.4, with the finely finished automatic micro-rotor movement prominently displayed through an exhibition caseback. Rhodium plated hands and indices adorn the dial in keeping with the traditional layout of the reference.
The rosy, salmon-esque hue of the dial, while certainly a desirable choice for many watch collectors, but is not a color that Bulgari has a habit of utilizing in its timing pieces. Despite an ever growing demand and seemingly unrelenting trend of watchmakers utilizing similar hues, Bulgari reserved such a treatment for the right time and place. Evidently, that time is now and the place will be the North American market, exclusively.
Inspiration in watchmaking is something that is often discussed at great length in presentations and marketing materials. Sometimes it is obvious, etched in the very texture of a dial like an ocean’s waves or fields of grass. Other times the source of a design is less evident, requiring a closer look or a more considered interpretation. But which approach is superior? Should it be blazoned across a dial like a blinking billboard or should it be softly and subtly woven into the fabric of a design like golden thread in a tapestry? That is to say – does inspiration need to be directly represented or reflected in the art that it ignited in order to be deemed valid?
In the case of the Octo Finissimo Tuscan Copper, the influence of the Mannerists is certainly of the more subdued variety. Bright, metallic, though ultimately soft in its slightly pastel quality, the dial makes its statement without over shadowing the form of its predecessors, but instead gently, if defiantly, pushing the category in a different direction.
Perhaps the kinship that connects the works of Pontormo and the Octo Finissimo is less about the qualities of a specific color palette, and more that they both sought to shed the conventions of the traditional designs of their day. Choosing instead to play with line and dimension to elicit a shift in both perspective and emotional response. Or, perhaps, the unifying factor is they both sang to Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani as the Muse has sung to so many before and, with any luck, will sing to many more again.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tuscan Copper Ref. 103856
Movement: Ultra-thin mechanical self-winding Manufacture movement, Caliber BVL 138 with micro-rotor (2.23mm in thickness); hours, minutes, small seconds counter at 7 o’clock; 60-hour power reserve; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Case and Dial: Steel case, 40mm in diameter, 6.40mm thin; metallic “Tuscan copper” sunray-finished dial, rhodium-plated applied indexes; steel screw-down crown with ceramic insert; transparent case back; water resistant to 10 ATM, 100 meters
Bracelet: Satin-polished stainless-steel bracelet with integrated folding clasp
Price and availability: Limited to 50 pieces in North America, USD 13,300