This year sees the arrival of yet another Bulgari Octo technical achievement in the form of the stainless steel Octo Finissimo S – the ultra-slim model – now geared up to withstand submersions of up to 100 meters. Previously the Octo Finissimos were waterproof to just 30 meters. To achieve this, the sophisticated slender bevelled case has been increased to a height of a mere 6.4mm to accommodate a screw-down water resistant crown. The crown - the Achilles heel of water resistance - is now protected by this locking mechanism that ensures the case is totally watertight. With this tweak, just in time for summer sports, the urbane and sophisticated Octo Finissimo is now ready for full immersion.
When the Octo first made its debut in 2014, little did we know that it was going to become an icon in record time. And what’s more in the past six years the Octo models have been recognised with 50 different awards and six world-record breaking innovations. The Octo’s success is thanks to an elegant fusion of the desirability of peerless Italian design and impeccable, ground-breaking Swiss mechanical mastery.
CEO Jean-Christophe Babin is the strategist behind the success of the Octo. After revolutionising TAG Heuer, the visionary CEO was transferred to Bulgari to oversee the renaissance of the house acquired by LVMH in 2011. Babin says of this new arrival: ‘We’re taking these record-setting timepieces from being a Supercar to a Grand Turismo – an extraordinary car that you drive every day. Compared to the extreme Sportscar it’s more like an all-wheel drive, as it’s 100 meters waterproof - you have the screw crown, you can dive, swim, take a shower…’
This season, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo S is presented with a polished lacquer blue dial, following on from the black dial version unveiled in Dubai in January 2020. The stainless steel case and bracelet are almost entirely polished to a satin finish in contrast the mirror-polished details creating an enticing play of light and shadows. The contrast of matt and sheen amplifies the powerful design of the Octo with its dozens of bevelled edges and its pure and taut lines. The minimalist lines of the Octo watch are in fact an echo of the coffering used on the ceiling of the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum. Bvlgari’s uncompromising style is linked to the history of Rome and by seeking out the ancient city’s purest forms and symbols they are transformed into contemporary icons.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo S is powered by the automatic BVL138 Finissimo caliber that is a mere 2.23mm thick, entirely manufactured in-house in the firm’s Swiss watchmaking workshops. It has a power reserve of 60 hours and despite water resistance to 100 meters boasts a sapphire crystal case back.
Although the unrelenting success of the Octo may have raised Bulgari to new heights in terms of horology, the house had already been retailing timepieces since the 1920’s and in the 1940’s started to show a distinctive house style with the snake watches, that today form the basis of the Tubogas collection. Coiled serpents with gold and diamond-set scales wound around the wrist and in the snake’s mouth was a minute Jaeger-LeCoultre dial. Other wrist watches were developed in collaboration with Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin and Movado.
The firm’s first iconic model was the Bulgari Bulgari, which started life in 1975 as a digital watch intended as a gift for faithful clients and in fact had Bulgari Rome inscribed around the dial. Such was the success of this model that Bulgari founded “Bulgari Time” in Switzerland to manufacture all their watches, making them amongst the first to take our wrists by storm with their strong branding and Roman cachet. In the second part of the 1980’s and the 1990’s watches were driving the growth of the company and the firm’s number one product in terms of sales.
When Bulgari announced its intentions to seriously enter the world of watchmaking in the late noughties, the Bulgari family knew it was on to a winner. The house had always had good results from its watch sales but little could the family imagine the meteoric success of the Octo. In a nutshell, the Octo is a game changer that has proven that Swiss mechanics can look better than ever and Italian style can indeed be backed by substance.