First Look – Bulgari Octo Roma, When The Iconic Octogonal Watch Becomes Softer

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Brice Goulard | ic_query_builder_black_24px 6 min read |
Bulgari Octo Roma

Since over a decade now (designed by Bulgari’s Roman design department in 2004), the Octo has become the iconic watch collection of the brand, known for its delicate and precious jewellery creations but also now for some distinctive watchmaking products (see the Finissimo collection and you’ll understand…) Yet, as desirable this watch is, it is a razor-sharp design, with no fewer than 110 facets and a shape that can’t go unnoticed. This year, the brand gives an answer to those for whom the Octo is simply too bold, with a more delicate and softer creation, still impregnated with the Octagonal DNA, the Bulgari Octo Roma.

About the Bulgari Octo

Octo Finissimo Small Seconds platinum

Our editor Xavier drew a quick history of the model, clarifying a misunderstanding point. Indeed “The Octo has often been attributed to Geral Genta but, as advised by Bulgari, it was actually designed in their Roman design department in 2004. Commercialized under the Gerald Genta name with the Bi-retrograde and Quadri-retro, the model is naturally coherent with the designer’s works. But if Genta created octagonal watches in the 1970s, these are indeed different and at the time the Octo was launched, he was no longer involved with the brand (…) In 2000 Bulgari acquired the Gerald Genta name/brand (…) The revamping of this watchmaking classic (2012) was very tastefully done and is epitomized by both the elegance and the watchmaking credentials of the ‘Finissimi’ models presented in 2014. The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon and the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater – ultra-thin record breakers in their respective categories – were highlights of Baselworld 2014 and 2016 respectively. (…) Avant-garde architecture, striking shapes and the love for linearity are all hallmarks of the Bulgari style. In this respect, the Octo is unmistakably Bulgari. It is without doubt one of the most iconic designs of the Italian jeweller / watchmaker which turned one model into an entire men’s watch collection complete with manufacture movements.” (see Xavier’s article about the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Collection)

Octo Finissimo Ultranero Skeleton

The Octo can be seen, as described by Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari, in our recent interview, as the quintessence of the Roman design. This shape can be found in various architecture designs and decorative motifs of the Antique Rome, as for instance the octagonal motifs adorning the Basilica di Massenzio. Octo is a bold design, immediately noticeable as out of Bulgari’s minds. It is all about the union of octagonal and round shapes. Indeed, on all Octo watches, the case is octagonal, the bezel is round and the dial recalls the case, as being also shaped with 8 sides. A circle within an octagon. That’s not all. What made these watches so distinctive are all the infinite facets and angles that create the cases. No fewer than 110 facets, razor-sharp angles and straight lines. The only rounded part of an Octo is its bezel. All the rest is geometric, neat and trenchant. Yet, even if this simply is one of the most interesting new watch designs in a long time, we can imagine it to be definitely too expressive for when a bit of discretion is needed. The answer to this is the Bulgari Octo Roma.

The Bulgari Octo Roma

Bulgari Octo Roma

Without denaturing the immense aura of the Octo collection, Bulgari introduces here an interesting softer, less dramatic version of their circle within an octagon. More elegant, more chic and more urban, this is what the Bulgari Octo Roma wants to be. More understated and a bit more formal, more daily-use oriented certainly. To obtain that, the Italian brand (with a Swiss production) has tuned-down the case, by only having 58 facets (instead of 110), less cutting edges and a diameter of 41mm. It remains the same overall proportions as an Octo Solotempo for instance, still the case feels more traditional, softer and more rounded than before. Yet, we still have the octagonal central container, on top of which a round and brushed bezel is affixed. Yes, the dial is still showing 8 sides. Still, there’s a true difference.

Bulgari Octo Roma

On the wrist, the Bulgari Octo Roma doesn’t loose all of its iconic shape, thankfully. On the other hand, when see in a glance, it becomes much more subtle, more traditional and less showy than before. While a normal Octo makes you feel that is is very proud of its origins, the Roma whispers it, with no ostentation. While the octagonal shape was the central point of the original Octo, the bezel of Roma takes the ascendancy on the rest of the case at first. Yet, a closer look will reveal the beauty and complexity of the case. This is what we loved here, at Monochrome: this extra subtlety offers more wearability on a daily basis but will still please those who love a bit of bold Italian design.

Bulgari Octo Roma

The Bulgari Octo Roma will be available in multiple versions with three dial variations – white, black or brown – and several case finishes – steel, two-tone pink gold and steel, or pink gold alone. As for the steel versions, a metallic bracelet will be available, once again with a more subtle style, compared to the usually large and sharp versions of other Octo watches. Worn on a leather strap, which is now regularly shaped and not integrated to the case (something that participates to the more elegant and classical design), the Octo Roma remains a watch to be worn easily, comfortably and with no risk of being provocative. Yet, it doesn’t mean it is not singular anymore.

Bulgari Octo Roma

To power the Bulgari Octo Roma is the in-house developed and produced self-winding movement, Calibre BVL 191 Solotempo (which can also be found in the Solotempo collection). This is a rather classical movement in its design, architecture and decoration. It features a bidirectional central rotor, 26 jewels and 42 hours of power reserve. The finishing is pleasant, with thin Geneva stripes on the bridges and the rotor, as well as chamfered angles. The display is classical, with hours, minutes and seconds on the central axis, as well as a date at 3.

Bulgari Octo Roma

The Bulgari Octo Roma also comes with relatively interesting prices, as the steel / leather versions will retail for 5,600 Swiss Francs (6,050 Swiss Francs on steel bracelet), the gold-and-steel versions on leather for 6,700 Swiss Francs and the 18k pink gold version on leather for 17,500 Swiss Francs. More details on www.bulgari.com.


Specifications of the Bulgari Octo Roma

  • Case: 41mm diameter – 58 facets – Steel, steel-and-gold or 18k pink gold – sapphire crystal on both sides – 100m water resistant, screw-lock crown
  • Movement: Calibre BVL 191 Solotempo, in-house – automatic – 4Hz frequency – 42h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Strap: leather strap on pin-buckle or steel bracelet with folding clasp

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