The Octo: Bulgari's game-changer

There's no going back, the Octo is a rule breaker and world record smasher disrupting watchmaking - and there is a surprise anniversary edition too. 

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Carbon side view

Bulgari’s pre-Basel line-up of watches confirms that we are witnessing a watchmaking revival where daring designs and jaw-dropping mechanical feats are elegantly executed in immaculate Italian style. At the forefront of this renaissance are the men’s Octo timepieces that dare to break the mould, making this octagonal watch a game-changer not just for Bulgari but for the industry as whole.

Bulgari’s Octo L’Originale Chronograph and Solotempo come this year in rugged sandblasted steel cases treated with black DLC that contrasts with the rich rose gold bezel and on a black rubber strap. Both are automatic winding and water resistant to 100 meters.

It has been just six years since its launch, but the Octo has fast become a distinctive icon, recognisable in a flash of the eye. Few watchmakers can claim to have created a standout product in such a short time while picking up accolades for design and material innovation and repeatedly breaking horological world records with a dash of sprezzatura.

The Bulgari Octo L’Originale Solotempo combines the dark black of the DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) finish with the warm tones of rose gold for a watch that is masculine yet luxurious.

Being an Italian jeweller with 135 years experience of making beautiful objects, design leads the creation process and the result are watches only a son of Rome could have designed. Bulgari’s distinctive and uncompromising style looks both to the past and the future as it harnesses the power of Italian design genius with a focus on unique shapes and materials and an emphasis on ultra-slim movements and cases. Maintaining a classic harmony of proportions,  the circle bravely meets the square. By perfecting the one case, the sculptural shape has been refined to 110 expertly honed facets to create a resolutely masculine and powerful form in its minimum expression. And it's not just about great design, but a marriage of style with Swiss watchmaking rigour. Bulgari’s accelerated rise in the sphere of luxury and haute horlogerie watches is underpinned by its manufacture in Switzerland where all its watches are made. The purchase in 2000 of the niche and high-end complication watch house Gérald Genta gave Bulgari a fast-track access to some of Switzerland’s most skilled watchmakers. 

The ultra-thin Finissimo movement has already broken four world records for minimal movements and cases. The line up is: thinnest automatic watch thanks to its peripheral oscillating weight, most slender hand-wound and automatic tourbillons and the most svelte minute repeater; all of which are a direct result of the Gérald Genta know-how at the heart of Bulgari’s technical development.

Light as a feather, the Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Carbon has a flying tourbillon and a 52 hour power reserve as well as a skeletonised dial with a futuristic black finishing

Bulgari has also made the skeleton a speciality of its own by finishing it with finely-honed edges and space-age matt-black finishings. Add to this a willingness to experiment with finishes such as DLC and carbon and you can see how Bulgari is beating a very new path of its own in the traditional world of watchmaking.

This one-of-a-kind watch is Bulgari's most complicated creation to date. The in-house made movement offers striking hours, quarters and minutes as well as the regulating effect of a tourbillon. The case is rose gold and titanium and has a transparent case back.

Adding to Bulgari’s impressive roster of Octo’s, the pre-Basel launches include a host of new models from the mechanically mind-blowing to the simply perfect. The Octo Grande Sonnerie (above) is Bulgari’s most complicated watch to date of which only one will be made. The impressive movement is visible through the skeletonised dial offering a glimpse into the automatic BVL 703 caliber.  Entirely made in-house this masterpiece combines a tourbillon with striking hour, quarters and minute functions. Combining the resonating qualities of metal and the lightness of high-tech materials, the middle case is titanium sandwiched between rose gold.

Traditional horology skills are combined with cutting edge materials such as carbon in Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Carbon. The black material used for both the case and the bracelet. The case is a mere 1.95 mm high.

I was most impressed by the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Carbon (above) which brings together all of Bulgari’s strengths: mechanical excellence, design daring and boundary-pushing use of materials. Put them together and you get the world’s thinnest tourbillon in an avant-garde super-light case.

The Bulgari Octo L'Originale chronograph is powered by the automatic winding BVL328 Velocissimo caliber that is made in-house by Bulgari in Switzerland and it has a silicon escapement.

The new Octo L’Originale Solotempo offer fans of Italian style a three-hand mechanical watch and as well as chronograph (above), which share a rugged matt-black steel and rose gold case with pitch-black dials. Sophisticated and urban, two new Octo Roma models offer a steel case and bracelet with discreet rose gold details (below) or a steel case on a leather strap, both with mechanical manufacture movements.

The Bulgari Roma is also available in steel with a rose gold octagon on the bezel and a rose gold crown on a steel bracelet. It is powered by the in-house made automatic BVL 191 Solotempo caliber that is decorated with Côtes de Genève stripes and visible through the transparent case back and water resistant to 50 meters.

And last but certainly not least, Bulgari graciously honours the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Gérald Genta marque and unveils a platinum Arena Bi-Retro model (below) with the famous GG mark proudly emblazoned on the dial.

Although the chunky Arena shape is reminiscent of the original design, the watch has a new automatic winding movement, the Bi-retro BVL 300 Caliber with jumping hours, retrograde minutes and a date.

Fans of Gérald Genta and his design genius will instantly recognise the hand of the master in this new limited edition with a jumping hour and retrograde minutes with a dazzling blue dial. It has been a long time since the Gérald Genta logo has been seen on a new dial and a sign of Bulgari's respect for the master watchmaker as well as its confidence in the future of its watchmaking revolution.

Thanks to its unerring ability to fuse the best of the past with a thoroughly modern eye, Italy’s design genius is brought to life with the very best of both traditional and cutting-edge materials and an excellence in craftsmanship.

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