Attaining iconic status in the world of watchmaking is no easy feat. Consecrated icons display a winning blend of excellent design and mechanical content that can weather the fickle nature of market trends. In a record span of just ten years, the bold contemporary Italian design and sophisticated Swiss mechanics of Bulgari‘s Octo family have secured it a pedestal in the hall of icons. Witnessing the ascent of a 21st-century icon is indeed a rare event, but if we factor in the rapid succession of world records for the Octo Finissimo’s ultra-thin movements, we are looking at something truly phenomenal. Besides the unbelievably thin new world record holder, there are some more watches to be unveiled. The Octo Finissimo Automatic and Chronograph GMT Automatic, both world record holders in the ultra-thin department in 2017 and 2019 respectively, have been revisited with a rather unusual and collector-oriented feature: the original sketches created by Fabrizio Buonamassa, Bulgari’s director of product creation, are now reproduced on the dial.
The designer’s hand
Like many artists, the first stage of the creative process is a sketch. Buonamassa’s sketches of the Octo Finissimo have always been included in the press releases, a blueprint of the creative design made by a human hand, not a cold computer rendering. The dynamic architecture of the Octo, with its integration of classical Roman architectural motifs in a thoroughly avant-garde context, can be appreciated in his early sketches. In a somewhat unconventional turn of events, Bulgari has decided to give Buonamassa’s original sketches a second lease of life, convinced that they have enough personality and appeal to replace the elements on the dial.
You can see how the octagonal geometry of the stepped case continues to the dial and is highlighted by the designer’s thick pencil strokes or how the counters of the chronograph or the small seconds indicator are imperfectly traced by a human hand. The dial’s symmetry is also emphasised with Buonamassa’s pencil drawings that divide the dial into four parts, slicing through the counters on the chronograph model, for example. It might be stretching the analogy, but it’s a bit like comparing Michelangelo’s sketches of the Sistine Chapel with the final frescoes and confirming the inimitable style of the hand behind the art.
The 10th Anniversary Models
The Octo Finissimo Automatic, a watch that broke the world record as the thinnest automatic movement in 2017 with its 2.23mm thick automatic movement, and the Octo Finissimo GMT Automatic, the world’s thinnest chronograph with GMT of 2019, are the two recipients of Buonammasa’s sketched dials. Although the brand doesn’t explain the exact process of how the sketches are transferred onto the dial (it does mention the word ‘engraved’, but it looks stamped to me), the original elements on the dial – indices, chrono and small seconds counters, Bulgari logo, Swiss Made inscription, minutes track – have all been replaced with reproductions of the sketches. Obviously, the skeletonised black PVD-treated hands are ‘real’, and the crown features a black ceramic insert.
Sticking to the sleek monochromatic look of the Octo Finissimo family, these tenth-anniversary models are clad in ultra-light titanium from head to toe. The 40mm cases are sandblasted, as are the matte grey sandblasted dial and the supple links of the bracelet with its integrated folding buckle. The movements powering both models are identical to the first models. The Octo Finissimo Automatic is fitted with the 2.23mm-thick calibre BVL 138 with a 65-hour power reserve. The Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT is powered by the 3.30mm thick BVL 318 calibre with a 55-hour power reserve for the chronograph and GMT functions.
Availability & Price
Both Bulgari Octo Finissimo 10th-anniversary models are limited editions of 200 pieces. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic 10th Anniversary retails for EUR 15,600, the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic for EUR 18,200.
More information at Bulgari.com.