New Sport-Inspired Octo Finissimo Watches at LVMH Watch Week 2021By Sumit Nag
It was Tony Soprano, who spoke the following immortal words during Season 6, Episode 15 of the hugely successful HBO drama series, The Sopranos, saying, “‘Remember when‘ is the lowest form of conversation.” While it’s difficult to not see Tony’s point, you must allow the following bit of reminiscing before we get on to the new additions Bulgari’s making to the Octo Finissimo family.
January 2020, the last proper internationally attended watch fair, the first ever LVMH Watch Week, held at the freshly opened, Bulgari Hotel in Dubai. It was on this occasion that Bulgari announced the Octo Finissimo S. A 40mm extra-thin satin-polished steel case version of the time-only, automatic Octo Finissimo, a tad thicker at 6.4mm and water-resistant up to 100m, thanks in part to the newly implemented screw-down crown.
Bulgari announced the watch with a radiant blue dial and an alternate with a stealthy black dial. And as much as it seemed that Bulgari was off to making another great year for itself from there, 2020 clearly had different plans. Two months later, in March, the world came to a standstill — with Bulgari’s home country being particularly hard hit. We learned of Watches & Wonders having to take on a new digital form, Baselworld going up in smokes — the watchmaking industry was simply put, in disarray. In the midst of all this Bulgari, regardless, chose to forge its own 2020.
CEO Jean-Christophe Babin shared with Revolution in a previous interview saying, “We are an Italian brand and we were profoundly moved to see how badly the pandemic had affected Italy. We learned of a hospital, Lazzaro Spallanzani, that was doing incredible work. There are three researchers there — Maria Rosaria Capobianchi, Francesca Colavita and Concetta Castilletti — who managed to successfully isolate the virus in under 48 hours. But they were lacking a key piece of equipment — a 3D imaging microscope that would allow them to take the next step in combating the virus.”
He added, “We felt that we should step in and supply them with this. I know that this is just a small effort in what is a global crisis. But even at a time when we are facing a great financial challenge, we understand we must do everything we can. We have a fragrance factory outside of Milan. At that factory, we have found a way to manufacture [with fragrance manufacturing partner ICR] a new hand sanitizer which Italy is badly in need of. We now have the capacity to manufacture up to 6,000 bottles a day and we are gearing up so that we can supply that to all the badly affected areas.” Later in June, Bulgari also announced their partnership with the Oxford University’s Edward Jenner Institute to help fund their efforts towards a vaccine.”
Having lent its hand towards bettering the world, Bulgari then turned its attention to the Swiss Watch industry and organized a small gathering of local and EU based folks to come to Geneva for Geneva Watch Days, in late August 2020. It is here that Bulgari announced their sixth record breaker, the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic, at just 3.50mm thick.
Says Mr Babin, “Last year, with the crisis we had a temporary closure of our manufacturer, but it was pretty short. And since September, we have been at full speed with watches and movements; full capacity. We didn’t lay off anyone and we plan, even this year, if things continue to do well, to hire new people. So this has also had a very positive impact, I would say, on the employment market, which for Switzerland has been pretty unstable, because Switzerland has suffered like any other country and we are very proud that despite everything, we could make it, we could further grow at the end of the year and that 2021 surely will allow us to capitalise.”
Bulgari, clearly is of the mindset of Tony Soprano. It wasted no time on “remember when” conversations, and forged its own paths in a year when everything that we had come to know of life, ceased to be. 2021, as a result, looks more like a year of business as usual, than one in which the brand is having to figure everything out from square one. With this in mind, onward to the Octo Finissimo’s latest.
Octo Finissimo S Steel Silvered Dial ref. 103464
We pick things up with an extension to the family of Octo Finissimo S, with a new dial. With the same BVL138 Finissimo caliber within, resulting in the same 6.4mm thinness. The new dial in this instance is a silvered vertical-brushed one, perfect for those after an all-grey stealth powerhouse of timepiece.
Mechanical Manufacture movement with automatic winding via a platinum micro-rotor, hours, minutes and small seconds indications. BVL138 Finissimo caliber (2.23mm thick) adorned with Côtes de Genève stripes, chamfered bridges and circular-grained baseplate, 60-hour power reserve, 21,600 VpH.
Case & Dial
40mm extra-thin satin-polished steel case (6.40mm thick) with transparent caseback; polished steel screw-down crown set with ceramic inlay; silvered vertical-brushed dial; water-resistant up to 100m.
Integrated vertical brushed steel bracelet with polished parts and folding clasp.
Price & Availability
€12,300; May 2021
Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT Steel ref. 103467
Fresh to the Octo Finissimo S is the Chronograph GMT, of course, in stainless steel. The case is now thicker at 8.75mm, as opposed to the extra-thin titanium launch edition, which was 6.9mm. Along with the new screw-down crown, the additional thickness, no doubt, a necessary accommodation in order to have the watch be rated water-resistant to 100m.
The diameter of the case has also taken on a millimeter now, at 43mm, which houses a sunray blue dial with silver GMT, chronograph and seconds counter. The movement within, though, is the same record breaker of 2019, the 3.3mm thin BVL 318.
Mechanical manufacture chronograph and GMT movement with automatic winding (peripheral rotor) and small seconds – BVL 318 caliber (3.30mm thick). 55 hours power reserve; local timezone adjusted through the push button at 9h.
Case & Dial
43mm extra-thin satin-polished steel case (8.75mm thick) with transparent caseback; radial brushed bezel; polished steel screw-down crown set with ceramic inlay; blue sunray blue dial with silver GMT, chronograph and seconds counters; water-resistant up to 100m.
Integrated vertical brushed steel bracelet with folding clasp.
Price & Availability
€17,000; June 2021
Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Titanium ref. 103371
The last on the list of the new Octo Finissimo watches, is not an additional to the steel sports line, but a sportier addition, nonetheless. The Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Titanium ref. 103371, is a rendition of the watch with the same 42mm extra-thin sandblasted titanium case at 6.9mm thickness. Powering the watch is the 3.3mm thick BVL 318 with the same superb chronograph mechanism and GMT function.
What’s different about the watch is, of course, the new black opaline dial and the black rubber strap. Perfect for the poolside on a sunny day, but I’d stop short of bringing it into the water, as this one’s got the non screw-down crown of the launch version of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT, which was also rated to a water-resistant to 30m.
Mechanical manufacture chronograph and GMT movement with automatic winding (peripheral mass) and small seconds – BVL 318 caliber (3.30mm thick). 55 hours power reserve; local timezone adjusted through the push button at 9h.
Case & Dial
42 mm extra-thin sandblasted titanium case (6.90 mm thick) with transparent case back; sandblasted titanium crown set with ceramic; black opaline dial; water-resistant up to 30 meters.
Black rubber strap with sandblasted titanium pin buckle.
Price & Availability
€17,400; January 2021
Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon
Not so much an Octo Finissimo, but an Octo regardless, is the new Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon. As its name suggests, the watch is a minute repeater with a 3-hammer carillon with Westminster chime, regulated by a tourbillon. Making the watch come alive, is the newly minted manually-wound Caliber BVL428 that measures in at 35mm across and a thickness of 8.35mm.
The movement itself is said to be a mastery of Bulgari’s watchmaking knowhow, elevated further by the brand’s in-house case making knowhow. Accordingly the 44mm, “generous proportions of the case are designed to maximize sound propagation, allowing for increased torque of the three-hammer construction and more sound power production.” Specifically, the mid-case is designed to maximize sound and allow for the most volume and resonance. The case internals are, also, hollowed out according to design, to reduce the amount of metal between inside and outside. Then there are three openings that correspond to the three chimes, which allows for the sound to travel unencumbered outside of the case’s internal chamber.
The movement, also, has its chimes fixed directly to the casebody for maximal transmission of sound, which is more so aided by the titanium used for the case. Bulgari has even hollowed and revamped the back of the case with an intentionally crafted titanium grid that protects this resonance zone and allows the audio produced to be projected out of the case.
Bulgari goes on to say that the gongs of the BVL428 are forged by hand before being annealed at a temperature of 900 degrees. The metal surface is then cleaned before another round of heating in an oven at 500 degrees, which at last gives it the physical qualities necessary for crystalline resonance. Adjustments to each gong is then made by a master watchmaker, carefully coaxing out the necessary notes for a Westminster chime, as stated by Bulgari: “The melodic sequence of this Carillon with three hammers sounding three tones plays the note C for the hours, the mid-re-C notes in sequence for the quarters, and the mid note for the minutes.”
Powering all of the necessary functions, no doubt, requires a great deal of energy, which is why Bulgari has equipped the BVL428 with two separate barrels. The first dedicated to the chiming mechanism, which is designed in a way that it rearms itself every time the chime is triggered. The alternate barrel is there to provide 75 hours of power reserve to the timing mechanism and has to be manually wound.
Mechanical manufacture caliber BVL428 with manual winding, minute repeater, 3-hammer carillon with Westminster chime, tourbillon and a power reserve indicator;, 75-hour power reserve, 21,600 VpH, skeletonized movement with bridges in black DLC coated titanium (8,35mm thick);
Case & Dial
44mm black DLC coated titanium case with matte finish; open-worked titanium middle-case, specially conceived to enhance sound performances; white gold crown, set with a black ceramic insert; white gold push button to activate the chime;
Black rubberized alligator strap with black DLC coated titanium 3-blade folding buckle.
Limited edition of 15 pieces.
Price & Availability
€290,000; January 2021