Introducing the Bulgari x Phillips Octo Finissimo Special EditionBy Sheng Lee
An auction house par excellence, Phillips cleverly taps the good eye of its team and offers its own creations made in collaboration with brands. Unsurprisingly, most of the watches are attractive in design or unusual in identity, like the Zenith El Primero A386 Revival and the Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition.
Now Phillips has turned to Bulgari for the Octo Finissimo Special Edition ref. 103709, a creative take on the brand’s ultra-thin automatic wristwatch. The twist here is the removal of the signature off-centre small seconds and installation of an old-fashioned “sector” dial, which marks a first for the line-up.
Unlike all previous Octo Finissimo models, the latest from Phillips has a symmetrical dial thanks to the elimination of the seconds at seven o’clock. That seems to be the final piece of the puzzle given that the Octo Finissimo is strictly geometrical and highly symmetrical in all aspects save for the dial.
For the overall design, Phillips resorts to an ever-popular “sector” layout, albeit one that’s done with flair. For example, the dial mimics a two-piece construction made of a top layer that’s hollowed out to reveal the brown background, but it’s actually one piece that’s laser engraved and finished in contrasting colours.
In terms of material, this new Octo Finissimo is dressed in sand-blasted titanium, which is identical to the original that was launched in 2014. Interestingly, inside the watch is also the original, first-generation BVL 138, which has a smaller balance and rotor than the more recent version of the movement. While the newer version is technically superior in winding efficiency and timekeeping, the first-generation has a more nuanced and attractive layout – and the original is always the coolest.
There have been many pretty iterations of the Octo Finissimo, most notably those conceived by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, but the Phillips edition is special enough to not feel tired.
In fact, the Phillips edition is different from all of its predecessors in having a symmetrical dial. But without the quirky offset seconds, the dial is less dynamic and Phillips had to make up for it with other tricks. They did this with the retro “sector” dial that’s surprising for the Octo Finissimo, with its decidedly contemporary case and bracelet. Also known as a “scientific” dial, a “sector” dial can sometimes appear too serious or plain, but here it’s quietly attractive thanks to several interesting details like the hour markers that have different thickness. There’s also the extra-large Arabic numerals at 12 and six o’clock, which greatly livens up the dial.
The most impressive aspect of the watch is the visual depth it manages to achieve despite being ultra thin. “The slimness of the watch limited our possibilities”, says Phillips, “and increased the challenge of creating an eye-catching dial.” The solution that the auction house came up with is simple but smart: laser-engraved markers instead of the usual printing. And the coating is also smartly chosen to appear dynamic, changing “from black to grey to bronze, depending on the lighting.”
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Special Edition Phillips In Association with Bacs & Russo
Movement: BVL 138; automatic; 60 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours and minutes
Case: 40 x 5.15 mm; titanium; water resistant to 30 m
Strap: Titanium bracelet
Availability: Limited to 50 pieces; direct from Phillips