Pre-eminent Italian luxury watch brand Bvlgari etched its name in the record books this year for the fourth time in five years with its latest Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic. WatchPro tells the story of how this proud Italian company has combined its flair for stunning jewelry design with exquisite Swiss watchmaking expertise to become a 21st century record breaker.
Bvlgari’s unique combination of Italian creativity and Swiss craftsmanship has been the key to a succession of world record achievements, with the brand managing to break four records in the 21st century already.
The first was a Tourbillon launched in 2014, followed in 2016 by a Minute Repeater and then an automatic movement in 2017. This year, Bvlgari presents the world’s thinnest Automatic Tourbillon model. These four records all stem from the now iconic Octo Finissimo line and each can lay claim to the title of the thinnest in the world in their respective category.
With a current workforce over 400-strong and integrated production of all watch parts spread over four sites in the Jura mountains, Bvlgari Horlogerie now fully masters the production of mechanical watch movements. From the Finissimo calibres holding four world records to Grande Sonnerie models as well as Solotempo self-winding base movements, the Maison masters the entire spectrum of watch mechanisms as well as the manufacture of all watch components, with cases and dials also made in-house.
The division is spread between several production sites: Le Sentier for mechanical movements; Saignelégier for cases in gold, platinum, titanium and steel; and La Chaux-de-Fonds for dial making. The operational hub in Neuchâtel handles watch assembly and final testing.
Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic
At just 3.95mm thick, the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic is the world’s thinnest automatic tourbillon wristwatch in production.
This new landmark cements Bvlgari’s mastery of the watchmaking art – duly acknowledged at last year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, which rewarded both the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton and the Octo Finissimo Automatic.
In the case of this new Tourbillon Automatic model, the Maison had to find technical solutions in the overall construction in order to achieve this degree of slenderness, combining exceptional expertise with respect for a certain aesthetic and a model that has achieved icon status.
Working on the basis of the Finissimo Tourbillon movement launched in 2014, this new development – Calibre BVL 288 – handles automatic winding via a peripheral oscillating weight positioned on the back of the movement. It is made of white gold and aluminium, two metals whose contrasting density enables the circular weight to oscillate in a particularly regular manner. The movement also incorporates a flying tourbillon equipped with a ball bearing system, contributing to the reduced thickness.
Measuring just 1.95mm thick and endowed with a 52-hour power reserve, Calibre BVL 288 Finissimo is housed in a sandblasted titanium case, revealing the entirely open-worked skeleton movement displaying all its internal organs. Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic also indicates the hours, minutes and small seconds. An opening on the back of the watch, depicting the stylised motif adorning the entrance of the boutique on the Via Condotti in Rome, provides a chance to observe both the tourbillon and the oscillating weight in action.
With the successive Octo Finissimo launches since 2014 Bvlgari has been demonstrating that the development and production of an ultra-thin watch is a very distinctive undertaking. It is more than just a mere miniaturisation of an existing model, particularly with the benchmark Octo Finissimo.
The slimness of a watch is based on an ability to rethink, redesign and remodel volumes. It is a global approach relating to all elements of the watch, meaning the case and bracelet as well as each movement component. Bvlgari has chosen an ultra-contemporary material, titanium, to guarantee a combination of sturdiness and lightness.
Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon
This year, the world’s thinnest Minute Repeater appears attired in black. Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon follows on from the model that in 2016 set a new standard in the striking watch category.
Clad in its high-performance black livery, this new execution picks up the fundamentals of its predecessor, which had opted for a titanium case two years ago. This ultra-light and highly resistant technical material is endowed with impressive acoustic properties. This year, the case, the bezel and the case back are made from an epoxy thermosetting resin called Carbon Thin Ply (CTP). It includes extremely thin carbon fibres that guarantee robustness despite their ultra-thin structure. The 40 mm-diameter case measures 6.85 mm thick.
This high-tech material has been chosen as much for its powerful and distinctive aesthetic as for its physical properties, since these polymers feature rare and surprising acoustic properties that endow the Minute Repeater with powerful sound output.
The small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock and the hour-markers, also made of CTP, are strategically incised. These openings serve to amplify resonance inside the case housing Calibre BVL 362 and compensate for the absence of substantial internal volume, the latter being the customary precondition for effective sound propagation.
This in-house manual winding Minute Repeater movement is the thinnest in the world to date, at just 3.12mm thick. Once cased up, it serves to keep the total thickness of the watch down to just 6.85mm.
Bvlgari has chosen to affix the circular cross-section gong-rings directly to the case. The extreme miniaturisation of the 362 components inside this extremely thin case is exemplified by the centrifugal governor featuring a diameter of just 3.3mm including its two poising weights.
The striking mechanism pusher, equipped with a safety feature, is positioned at 9 o’clock on the case middle. The case is teamed with an extremely supple carbon bracelet. Weighing in at just 47 grams, the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon offers a refreshing new take on tradition.
Octo Finissimo Automatic
Octo Finissimo Automatic returns to centre stage with two new interpretations in rose gold and rhodium-plated steel. Following on from the titanium version launched in 2017, their sandblasted surfaces flaunt a contemporary and unexpected look to create a distinctive chromatic trilogy.
In these two versions attired in rose gold or rhodium-plated steel, the two matt exteriors offered by Bvlgari proclaim a resolutely modernistic style. These two versions complement the titanium watch presented by Bvlgari in 2017 perfectly.
The new Octo Finissimo Automatic models instantly draws the eye to the material finishing. The sandblasting technique ensures that the rose gold is warm without glinting, while Rhodium-plated steel also takes on elegant shades.
Both versions are driven by the world’s thinnest mechanical self-winding movement: Manufacture self-winding Calibre BVL 138 Finissimo. Adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif and circular-grained, powered by a platinum micro-rotor, it delivers a 60-hour power reserve.
Octo Finissimo Skeleton
Devotees of precision will be captivated by the incredible slim and easily understandable skeleton version with its understated yet complex architecture dressed in a rose gold sandblasted case.
Exceptional in terms of both its slenderness and its finishes, it’s equipped with Manufacture Calibre BVL 128SK, a mechanical hand-wound movement powering small seconds and power-reserve displays. This skeleton mechanism measuring barely 2.35 mm thick is endowed with an approximately 65-hour power reserve.
The Octo L’Originale watch, representing the origins of the Octo line, appears this year in a new and contemporary exterior. Titanium is a technical material greatly prized in watchmaking, due to its numerous qualities, including thermal, mechanical and corrosion resistance.
Titanium boasts a density 40% lower than that of steel, combined with excellent resistance to mechanical stress, fire and corrosion. Better still, titanium is biocompatible, as are gold and platinum. The case and dial of the two new models are made from this metal.
The three-hand version is equipped with a mechanical self-winding movement, Calibre BVL 191 Solotempo, driving the hours, minutes, seconds and date functions. It has a 42-hour power reserve. The chronograph is powered by the high-frequency mechanical self-winding BVL 328 Velocissimo movement. This column-wheel chronograph with a silicon escapement has a 50- hour power reserve.
Bvlgari is presenting three new Octo Roma references this year. The first comes with a sunburst anthracite dial framed by a steel case. It is fitted with a black alligator leather strap secured by a steel pin buckle.
The second teams the steel case with a matching articulated-link bracelet. The finishing details and the contrasts between the polished and satin-brushed elements instils luminous touches accentuated by its luminous sunburst blue dial.
The third version showcases gold, reinforced by the black touch typical of Italian contemporary design.
Octo Roma is also available with a steel case featuring a rose gold bezel and winding-crown, while the two-tone bracelet combines gold and steel.