Breaking records is something expected of Bulgari these days. Riding on the success of two other chart-busting watches launched in the last three years, namely the world’s thinnest tourbillon (Octo Finissimo Tourbillon) in 2014 and the world’s thinnest minute repeater (Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater) in 2016, the Italian watchmaker introduces its latest ultra-thin timepiece this year: The Octo Finissimo Automatic, the world’s thinnest self-winding watch.
It was Piaget’s 1208P movement that previously held the record for thinnest self-winding movement in the market. Measuring 2.35mm, it stood undefeated for seven years before being dethroned by Bulgari’s 2.23mm-BVL 138 calibre this year. Offered in a 40mm sandblasted titanium Octo case, the height of the watch measures 5.15mm (a quarter of an inch!) while its weight is a mere 50g (with the leather strap included) or around 80g (with the full titanium bracelet).
Keeping the watch’s proportions down to a bare minimum required an astute study in precision engineering, with part of the solution developed around the use of a platinum micro rotor that would drive sufficient torque to the 3Hz movement, for the whole 60 hours. Aside from its wafer-thin and lightweight physical properties, the sandblasted finish on the watch — especially on the incredibly supple bracelet — imbues it with a modern and high-tech look that is particularly refreshing in the current trend of vintage-inspired designs and re-issues.
Elsewhere in the Octo Finissimo family of ultra-slim watches, Bulgari also launched a new interpretation of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon. Although the BVL 268 movement was unveiled two years ago, it remains an inspiring work of horological art because of its atypical construction and extreme feat of micro mechanics.
This year’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton does away with the dial and offers a peek into the 253-part movement, complete with ball bearings that support the flying tourbillon and the mainspring barrel. The three ball bearings holding the barrel replace the need for jewels, thus allowing the watch to achieve an 80 percent increase in power reserve — the BVL 268SQ beats at a frequency of 3Hz and delivers an impressive 62 hours of torque. Highlighting the watch’s importance is its platinum case.
Offering transparency at a whole new different level is the Octo Tourbillon Sapphire, presented in a new case shape called the Octo Roma (more on that later). Offered in a titanium and sapphire crystal case, the complex calibre BVL 206 mechanical manual-winding flying tourbillon movement is displayed in full view and can be admired from the dial and back, as well as from the sides of its transparent case.
If the luminous markers and see-through sapphire case design appear familiar, these were previously found in the Tourbillon Saphir watch collection from a few years ago. While those watches relied on Super-Luminova for the luminescent markers and a sapphire crystal baseplate for the airy transparent look, Bulgari has upped the ante on the Octo Tourbillon Sapphire to offer a more technically superior watch. The tourbillon escapement is also constructed differently and bears an original design.
Anchoring the movement design are 11 black DLC-coated bridges adorned with illuminating green bars of ITR2 (a single composite material composed of carbon nanotubes) and SLN (a high-tech luminescent material that has the ability to easily absorb all light it receives in the day). Resembling spokes on a wheel, these bridges are placed around the dial to hold the movement in place; they also function as minute and hour markers.
In addition, the watch incorporates a clever mechanism tied to its time-setting operations: Pushing a button on the crown replaces the need to pull it to second position to set the time. This button activates a red dot in a tiny aperture at 3 o’clock, thereby signalling that time may be set by simply turning the crown. Once this is done, another push of the button causes the dot to vanish and locks the time-setting mechanism.
Concluding the Octo chapter is the Octo Roma that premieres in a new case design.
A variation of the 110-facet Finissimo case, the Roma features only 58 facets. Positioned as a contemporary design for the urban gent, it cuts a striking figure that is both functional and well balanced. Presented in a 41mm case, the Octo Roma is offered in five versions with three dial variations — white, black or brown — and several finishes in steel, gold and steel, or gold case. It is available with an integrated leather strap or a dedicated steel bracelet that glides easily on the wrist.
For ladies, Bulgari’s big commercial push this year is the new Serpenti watch, a 27mm-piece that can be customised to 312 different variants.
The customisation design can be done easily via a dedicated app that is available at selected Bulgari flagship boutiques. With the help of a tablet, customers can select the case material (steel or pink gold), dial design (black, red, green or white mother-of-pearl, finely lacquered or with sunburst guilloche), gem-setting and strap colour (in karung and calf leather — both easily interchangeable via a quick-change spring- loaded fastening system). She also has the option of personalising the watch with a three-letter engraving on the caseback.
Other Serpenti novelties include four new iterations of the Serpenti Incantati watches from last year. These offer a fresh interpretation of the serpent by showing it coiled around the dial, resulting in a harmoniously designed ultra-feminine creation.
The Serpenti Tubogas is also available for the first time in a five-coil design, providing more options for ladies who want something between the outrageous seven-coil design and the understated three-coil variant. For the double-coil watches, there are new finishes in steel or bi-metal steel and gold (also available in a single-coil design); these come in recently added dial colours of red and grey.
Another feminine pillar, the LVCEA, has also been expanded to include new models with moonphase indications and hard stone dials.
The LVCEA Tourbillon that was previously only offered with painstakingly decorated metiers d’art dials is now available with elegant heart of ruby or jade dials. The watch runs on the automatic calibre BVL 263 movement, which features a tourbillon escapement.
Hard stones are also used in the new LVCEA Moon Phases, a 36-mm ticker with a mother-of -pearl dial and diamond indices. At 12 o’clock, the moon phase aperture shows off a lunar cycle disc crafted from heart of ruby or aventurine glass, complete with an engraved golden moon.