What is Bvlgari…? A jeweller? A designer of beautiful high-end accessories? A respectable watchmaker? If ever you still had doubts regarding any of the previous statements, the brand’s latest creation will give you the answer. It’s everything at once, a watchmaker of haute horlogerie capable of creating strong designs and to dress its watches with superb jewels and stones. Exhibit A; the new Bvlgari Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire Malachite.
I have to admit, I’m usually not the biggest fan of jewellery watches, and diamonds and stones in general. I’m certainly more of a stainless steel person. But when done right, with boldness and as something as coherent and detailed as what we’ll look at today, I can only change my mind. Indeed, the Bvlgari Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire Malachite is something special, bold and sculptural, but also a refined piece of watchmaking where the integration of stones has been greatly thought out, complementing the already impressive design of the Octo collection.
The 44mm case of the Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire Malachite is based on an already known watch, the Tourbillon Sapphire launched in 2017 and sharing its design with the Octo Roma collection, a softer and more urban take on the octagonal shape dear to the Italian brand. Slightly less facetted than the Octo Finissimo but no less architectural, especially in this Malachite execution.
The case is composed of multiple materials. Bezel, lugs and caseback are crafted from 950 platinum, set with baguette diamonds. The side of the case, which has a straight, column-like design, is made from malachite, a green stratified stone known as “the stone of kings”. It was used to decorate the biggest palaces and official houses from Antiquity to Renaissance, as well as being often associated with Tsars as the biggest mine is located in Oural. This green stone middle case is enhanced by thin lines of diamonds and complemented by a dark green alligator strap.
Altogether, and while I’m usually reluctant to diamond-set watches, I must admit here that the combination of materials and colours is greatly thought out, and adds to the architectural design of the watch. There’s a rarely seen level of integration here, which softens the opulence of the stones and platinum, making this Octo Roma far less ostentatious than many jewellery watches… and yes, this Octo Roma remains masculine, and not only because of its proportions.
And there’s also a lot to tell on the technical side in this watch. It’s not just a pretty face highlighted by precious materials. Bvlgari, after all, has demonstrated recently that it deserves its place among the haute horlogerie manufactures, with multiple records for thinness and the ability to create complex sonnerie watches. Here, we have the in-house Calibre BVL 206, a hand-wound openworked movement that is made from solid 18k white gold, with applied indexes matching the middle case, made from malachite. The decoration, with matte sandblasted surfaces, reinforces the technical look of this piece and allows to concentrate on the architectural design of both the case and the movement.
On the technical side, this movement is equipped with a one-minute flying tourbillon, classically positioned at 6 o’clock. Powered by a single barrel and running at 3Hz, it stores up to 64 hours of power reserve, which can be controlled by an indicator on the back of the movement. The final touch comes from the crown, or actually a pusher to select the crown position. At 3 o’clock, there’s a small aperture displaying the crown position (winding or setting). Instead of a standard keyless work, Bvlgari here opts for a column wheel (visible next to the crown). A nice detail that adds to the technicality of this Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire Malachite.
The Bvlgari Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire Malachite is an impressive watch, a demonstration of Bvlgari’s savoir-faire in terms of design, watchmaking and use of precious stones. And this piece is remarkably consistent in mixing them. Arguably, it won’t be to everyone’s taste. Will I wear one…? Maybe not, but I can only recognize the stunning craftsmanship and the unique sense of design infused in this piece.
This Malachite edition (ref. 103231) is a limited edition of 30 pieces. Price on request. More details at www.bulgari.com.