New Watch! • 12 Jun 2019
Bulgari’s Avant-Garde GMT
The growing powerhouse of Bulgari has impressed again, with its fifth consecutive year of record-breaking wristwatches. The new Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT has broken the record for the thinnest automatic chronograph in the history of watchmaking. With their new piece measuring just 6.9mm thick, it is a serious feat of watchmaking. While some staunch collectors discount the brand as just another jewellery house, Bulgari continues to flex their watchmaking muscles with their ability to produce innovate and well-designed sports watches.
Forging a Bulgari Aesthetic
The Octo collection is often thought to have been conceived by the capo famiglia of watch design, Gerald Genta. However Bulgari has confirmed Genta was no longer involved with the firm when the Octo was originally drawn up, and it was their in-house design team who produced the concept. The combination of this design acumen, alongside technical expertise accumulated over several decades of R&D, means the market is getting accustomed to seeing this type of groundbreaking work from Bulgari.
Five years ago they first entered into the world of ultra-thin watchmaking with the release of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, followed a year later with an equally wafer-like minute repeater. Not resting on these achievements, they followed up the next year with the first time-only automatic model, and the year after released an automatic tourbillon, breaking thickness records as they went.
Practicality Meets Avant-Garde Design
With the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT this year, they cap off half a decade of progress with one of the most practical complications for everyday wear. Housed in 42mm of their instantly recognizable sandblasted titanium, the chronograph pushers are on the right side of the watch, with a 30-minute subdial at six o’clock, and running seconds at nine o’clock. The GMT home time is displayed via the three o’clock subdial, with the local time hour hand controlled in one-hour jumps by a pusher on the left side of the case.
Despite it being a little unconventional to display the GMT via a subdial rather than a centrally mounted hand, it balances the dial symmetrically. While the 30-minute counter might be a little frustrating for timing longer events, the trade-off to include a second-time-zone is well worth it.
The combination of ultra-light titanium, a pleasantly textured finish, and bracelet links fine enough to hug to wrist, makes for a watch that is incredibly comfortable to wear. The juxtaposition of the aggressive angles of the case, and the silken feeling on the wrist, create an almost incongruous sense of the watch while wearing it. Your sense of sight and touch are forced to compare notes to understand what it is you are holding in your hand.
Caliber BVL 318
The movement behind this new innovation is the Calibre BVL 318, with a platinum peripheral rotor and 55 hours of power reserve when fully wound. At just 3.3mm thick (about the thickness of four stacked credit cards), you can understand just how impressive a technical feat it is. To ensure as few parts of the movement as possible were stacked on top of each other, the watchmakers built laterally, giving the cased Chronograph GMT an additional 2mm of diameter than the time-only Octo Finissimo.
Another year, another outstanding release by Bulgari at Baselworld. While their technical innovations are frequent enough to become regular, the achievements are anything but commonplace and have elevated them from the status of a “fashion watch” brand, to a stratospheric position alongside a select few. As a number of dizzyingly popular Gerald Genta designed watches approach their 50thbirthday, it is hard to imagine the Octo Finissimo not having a similar dizzying popularity by it’s own half-century of life.