Until you have it on your wrist it’s hard to appreciate just how thin the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater really is. Introduced back in 2016, it measures a mere 6.85mm thick cased up, with the complicated movement inside accounting for only 3.12mm of that. By way of comparison, a British one pound coin is 3.15mm thick! As interesting a model as it is however, it was just one of those watches that for one reason or another, we didn’t get a chance to cover in detail here on Monochrome. As they say though, better late than never. So here – one year late – is our in-depth, hands-on look at the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater.
World Record(s) Holder
By all accounts, the measurements quoted above are enough to decisively name the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater as the world’s thinnest minute repeater now in production (back in the days, Genta developed a 2.72mm repeater movement, which quickly proved unreliable). This is no doubt a very impressive feat in and of itself but what makes it really remarkable is the fact that Bulgari also simultaneously holds the records for the world’s thinnest tourbillon currently in production and the world’s thinnest automatic movement. As staggering as that sounds however, it does make sense when you stop to think about it. Once you’ve developed the capabilities required to make thin movements, it’s only logical to exploit this expertise.
Bulgari CEO, Jean-Christophe Babin, echoed these sentiments 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,” he said, referring to the launch of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon in 2014. “We are primarily a ladies’ brand and we try to find the equivalent in elegance for a man, and it’s often a very thin watch.”
It’s clear then that these world records are not the result of incidental good fortune but rather extensive planning and years of research and development. Keep in mind that less than ten year ago, Bulgari was still largely considered an Italian jewellery brand whose watches were of little to no interest to haute horology connoisseurs. In a relatively short period of time that perception has been completely changed, with the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater stealing the title of world’s thinnest minute repeater from Vacheron Contantin, one of the most storied names in Swiss watchmaking. Even more importantly, the company created a watch that was highly attractive to collectors in the process.
The Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater
The first thing you probably noticed about the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater, besides the fact that it is very thin, is that it does not look like a traditional minute repeater. For a start, the 40mm wide case is made from sand-blasted titanium, a material well-suited to this kind of application as it does not dampen the sound of the chimes but which has a rather industrial look to it. This is definitely not in keeping with the refined platinum and white gold style of more traditional models, not that that is a bad thing by any means. Personally, I find it rather refreshing, as do many collectors it seems.
The exceedingly simple dial is also made from titanium and features a time-only display with small seconds shown on a sub-dial at six o’clock. Aside from the words “Repetition Minutes” printed just beneath the Bulgari name, there is nothing to suggest that this watch is particularly remarkable in any way. Sure, the cut-out hour markers and indexes look cool but to the casual observer it’s not immediately apparent that this design choice is more than an aesthetic one. In reality, this been undertaken to help amplify the sound created by the chiming mechanism beneath. The only other indication that this watch might be something special is the pusher located at on the left-hand side of the case – fitted with an “all or nothing” safety device – which is responsible for activating the minute repeater complication.
In spite of its thoroughly modern looking exterior however, the design and movement architecture of the caliber BVL 362 inside is surprisingly traditional. Visible through the sapphire caseback, the movement is comprised of 362 individual components and measures just 3.12mm thick. It operates at 3Hz (21,600bph) and offers a max power reserve of 42 hours, although unfortunately there is no power reserve indicator (space was at a premium after all!). To give you an idea of the incredible attention to detail required in the extreme miniaturisation of every component, the centrifugal strike governor has a total diameter of just 3.3mm, including its two inertia-blocks. The movement also makes use of a flat-spring barrel, as well as a “hanging” mainspring barrel and crown wheel to cut down on the height of the movement as much as possible.
Produced in a limited series of just 50 pieces, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater was a sell-out success. Capable of chiming the hours, quarter hours and minutes, the sound is crisp and clear and has opened-up what was typically seen as a very traditional complication to a whole new audience. Presented on a matte-black vulcanized alligator strap complete with a folding titanium clasp, it might just be the most unconventional – not to mention thinnest – minute repeater you ever see.
Technical specifications – Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater
- Case: 40mm diameter x 6.85mm thick – titanium, sand-blasted – sapphire crystal on the front and on the back with antireflective coating – Water resistant to 30m.
- Movement: Calibre BLV362, in-house – manual winding – 28.50mm x 3.12mm – 42h power reserve – 21’600 vibrations/h – hours, minutes, small seconds, minute repeater.
- Bracelet: matte-black vulcanized alligator leather strap with folding titanium clasp.
- Price: CHF 160,000, limited production of 50 pieces.