Sometimes less is more. In the case of the new Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic, less is so much more. Unveiled earlier this year at Baselworld, it instantly lay claim to the title of world’s thinnest automatic movement. Combined with a minimalist aesthetic and exceptional finishing, it might just be the coolest time-only watch you see this side of 2017.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic
To an outsider, the unveiling of the world’s thinnest automatic movement might seem like a big deal (or completely irrelevant, depending on their perspective). For those in the business however, it is a significant albeit not momentous occasion. At just 2.23mm thick the new calibre BVL138 has decisively beaten the previous record of 2.45mm, held by Vacheron Constantin’s caliber 1120.
This is not new territory for Bulgari however, not by a long shot. The brand also holds the title for world’s thinnest minute repeater and world’s thinnest tourbillon (currently in production.) So, without wanting to detract from this latest achievement in any way, I think it’s fair to say it was almost expected in a way. As Bulgari CEO, Jean-Christophe Babin, so elegantly put it last year in an interview with Robb Report following the launch of the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater; “We’re building on expertise we developed a long time ago…” Translation: Bulgari makes really, really thin men’s watches and they do a damn good job of it.
As thin as the Octo Finissimo Automatic is – a measly 5.15mm cased up – what really grabbed my attention is its minimalist, almost industrial good looks. This is definitely not your grandfather’s wristwatch. This is a watch that makes a statement on the wrist, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that there’s barely any watch to make a statement with.
Presented in a 40mm case crafted from sand-blasted titanium, the Octo Finissimo Automatic features the classic circle in a square design the Octo collection is renowned for. Despite its industrial-like appearance however, the multi-faceted case has been carefully finished to a very high standard. The dial meanwhile continues the sober celebration of this concept of less is more. It features oversized Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 and the Octo’s baton-style hour markers. Small seconds are shown on a sub-dial between 7 and 8 o’clock and indicated directly from the seconds wheel to keep the movement as flat as possible.
Turning the watch over a sapphire caseback gives you a bird’s eye view of the ultra-thin calibre BVL138, complete with integrated micro-rotor made from 950 Platinum. Given its small size the micro rotor needs to be made from a dense material to give it enough mass to generate energy, hence the decision to use platinum. Operating at 21’600 vibrations/hour, the movement offers 60 hours of power reserve when fully wound. Impressive for a mechanism that this thinner than two pennies stacked on top of each other and not too much bigger in diameter. It has been nicely decorated with Geneva stripes, perlage and anglage, little touches that I really appreciate.
Presented on an ultra-flat alligator leather strap or a matching sand-blasted titanium bracelet, both of which are fully integrated into the case, the Octo Finissimo Automatic can be yours for US$13,900 on the titanium bracelet and US$12,800 on the leather strap.