Introducing Bulgari's New Octo Finissimos at Watches and Wonders 2021By Wei Koh
When I first set eyes on the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo back in 2014, I was blown away by the sheer audacity of this timepiece. While today it’s clear that the ultra thin integrated sports watch category is one of the most hotly contested, this wasn’t the case at the time. In fact, you could say that Bvlgari broke this category open and gave it a far greater sense of contemporary relevance. But to me, what was incredible was that the Octo Finissimo could only be the result of uniting case-making, dial-making, movement making and later bracelet making to create a watch that the world had never seen before. Future historians will therefore look back at 2014 as a parallel of 1972, when Gérald Genta introduced the world to the first integrated bracelet sports chic watch, the Audemars Piguet ref. 5402.
Now, a full seven years later, I understand the true scope of the vision initiated by Jean-Christophe Babin and Fabrizio Buonamassa those many years ago. The Octo Finissimo has irrefutably established itself as a modern icon. Even more, it has two lines now: a “Supercar” line in titanium, carbon, ceramic and precious metal for its more complicated watches, and a steel line replete with a screw-down crown for added water resistance extrapolated across the automatic and, as of this year, chronograph versions.
The Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar
If you thought that Bvlgari was going to rest on its laurels after dropping the world’s thinnest automatic tourbillon chronograph last year, think again. Because as of this month, it pulls the covers off the stunning Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar. Why is this watch so cool?
To begin, all of the other watches in this category, with the exception of the Patek Philippe ref. 5740, are using a movement that reaches back to 1967 in order to achieve their slimness. This means that the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar and the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin are both using modular perpetual calendars on top of the Jaeger-LeCoultre designed caliber 920 or, in AP-speak, the 2121, and Vacheron terminology, the 1120. Now, there is nothing wrong with this as both the Royal Oak and the Overseas are two of the most stunning watches in the world. But what’s great about Bvlgari is that recognizing the entrenched players, they decided to build their own micro-rotor driven movement, which is all of 2.75mm in thickness and which fits in a case that is an incredible 5.8mm in thickness. From a thinness perspective, this is absolutely amazing. This even smashes the Audemars Piguet RD2’s previous benchmark of 6.3mm, which I already thought was unbelievably thin.
Not content with mere technical achievement, the incredible team at Bvlgari — I should also give a shout-out to their excellent watch boss Antoine Pin — decided to drop double retrograde indications as a kind of ultimate mic drop moment. What you have on the upper part of the dial is a date retrograde indicator that fans out almost lovingly around the Bvlgari logo. The dial is balanced by two more subdials, one for the day of the week on the left and one for the month on the right. Finally, a small fan-shaped leap year indicator is tucked into the dial at six o clock, barely kissing the edge of the bezel.
On some level, I am sure there is a bit of a cheeky nod to the old Genta retrograde watches such as the Quattro Retro, but what I really like is that in creating the first double retrograde perpetual calendar in the Octo Finissimo line, Bvlgari has done so with a design language that is original and fun. It is one that references its roots but is also incredibly legible despite the exciting dial-side animation. The new Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar will be made available in two materials: Bvlgari’s signature sandblasted titanium on a matching bracelet and an instance in platinum on a blue alligator strap.
Says Bvlgari’s mighty CEO Jean-Christophe Babin, “One of our objectives was to make high complications more wearable, more sporty, more relevant to the new generation, and I think this new perceptual calendar is a wonderful demonstration of this.” I, for one, agree completely.
The Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando Limited Edition
For those of you who recall Bvlgari’s last foray with revered Japanese architect Tadao Ando, you will remember how images of this stunning watch, with a dial pattern that evoked a “black hole where time was born,” totally broke the Internet in 2019. The resulting feeding frenzy of collectors trying to get their hands on this Japan-only release demonstrated some rather extraordinary creativity. Says famed watch collector Ahmed “Shary” Rahman, “When I saw the first image of the Tadao Ando Octo Finissimo, I knew I had to have it. But when I learned it was a Japan-only release, I was compelled to start ringing everyone I knew in Japan.”
Says Mark Cho, watch collector and co-founder of classic menswear store The Armory, “This was my first Octo Finissimo, but when I saw the sheer creativity and beauty of the watch, [it] spoke to me. Fortunately, I have a lot of business partners in Japan and I was able to secure a piece.”
New for this year is Bvlgari’s second time collaborating with Ando, and the third watch to come from this collaboration, this time with his signature dial turned blue and the addition of a yellow crescent moon. The moon is depicted as “Mikazuki” in its first stage of development and is meant to express the transitory nature of time. Time will indeed be fleeting when this watch is released, because every collector in the world inside and outside of Japan will be racing to get one of the rare 160 examples being made.
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar
Movement: Self-winding caliber BVL 305; 60-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, retrograde date, day, month and retrograde leap year
Case: 40mm; sandblasted titanium or platinum; water resistant to 30m
Strap: Sandblasted titanium bracelet with folding clasp, or blue alligator with platinum pin buckle
Availability and Price: CHF 57,000 for the titanium model and CHF 86,000 for the platinum version
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando Limited Edition
Movement: Self-winding caliber BVL 138; 60-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes and small seconds
Case: 40mm; black sandblasted ceramic; water resistant to 30m
Strap: Black ceramic bracelet with ceramic triple blade folding clasp
Availability and Price: Limited to 160 pieces; CHF 17,500