Anyone who’s been watching Bulgari for the last few years knows that the company’s kind of set the watchmaking industry on its ear. It’s one of the world’s best known jewelry houses, and it’s been offering watches for decades, so you’d naturally expect strong design statements (and you’d be right) but the last thing anyone might have expected from Bulgari would be for it to become, in a fairly short period of time, one of the most forward-thinking, forward-looking, genuinely innovative watchmaking houses around, with a slew of world records to its name, as well as a portfolio positively bristling with everything from high-jewelry exotica, to some of the most interesting complications anyone’s making right now (and sometimes some or all of those things in the same watch).
Two of its most interesting watches are from this year: the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, and the Octo Finissimo Carbon Minute Repeater. Both boast best-in-class numbers, in terms of offering a slim profile – the Tourbillon Automatic is overall, only 3.95mm thick and that’s the entire watch, not just the movement. When it debuted at Baselworld this year, it broke several records; perhaps the most significant was that of thinnest self-winding tourbillon ever made – that record had been held by Audemars Piguet since 1986.
Also arriving on our shores, is the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon. Like its tourbillon sibling, it’s the thinnest of its kind – just 6.86mm thick.
Carbon fiber was an interesting choice for this latest version of the watch, which debuted in 2016 – the best sound from minute repeaters generally comes from materials that are both relatively light and stiff, to optimize transmission of sound with as little loss of energy as possible. Volume isn’t everything, of course, and different metals contribute different sound profiles, each one of which can be appreciated in its own right, but carbon fiber (which has in recent years been used in musical instruments as well) has a number of advantages and produces a unique tone, as well as excellent volume.
Both watches will be at the Bulgari flagship on 57th and 5th Avenue in New York from June 15th through the 17th and if you have a chance to get up there and see them, I highly recommend taking a gander in person. They’re both highly characteristic designs from Bulgari, as well as extremely interesting from a purely technical perspective, and very much worth getting acquainted with whether you’re in the market for such a watch or not – they’ve set a benchmark against which many high end watchmakers will measure themselves in years to come. For more on Bulgari’s horological excursions, and for more on the recently re-opened flagship, visit Bulgari.com.