It’s official; Bvlgari has just trumped itself with the seventh world record for thinness. Meet the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar, the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar, compressed inside an automatic movement just 2.75mm thick, and a case of 5.80mm. The sway Bvlgari has exerted on the watchmaking scene for the past seven years is staggering. Not only has the brand crowned itself as the master of ultra-slim movements for seven consecutive years, but it has also redefined the aesthetic of timepieces in a contemporary, stylish design language. We had the opportunity to have a close look at this new, ultra-thin, ultra-impressive piece, with our hands-on photos and, as you can see on top, a video that goes deep into the details!
Octo Finissimo Legion of Records
During the past seven years, Bvlgari has earned seven world records for its ultra-thin movements. When Bvlgari unveiled its 1.95mm thin tourbillon movement in 2014, the watch world and brands like Audemars Piguet and Piaget pricked up their ears. What was a legendary Roman brand renowned for its exuberant jewellery and somewhat inconsistent watch collection doing on the ultra-thin front? Nobody could have foreseen the determination Bvlgari was going to deploy with its legion of Octo Finissimo watches to engage in the war on thinness.
The Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater, with its 3.12mm movement and 6.85mm case, appeared in 2016, followed in 2017 by the Octo Finissimo Automatic (2.23mm movement/5.15mm case), both smashing thinness records in their respective fields. (It’s worth noting that Bvlgari’s Automatic was recently upstaged by Piaget’s 2mm Altiplano Ultimate Concept.) Year after year, the legion marched relentlessly to victory and in 2018 unveiled the twice victorious Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic; not only was it the world’s thinnest automatic watch, it was also the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch (1.95mm movement/3.95mm case). The fifth record appeared in 2019 with the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT, the thinnest mechanical chronograph (3.30mm movement/6.90mm case), which also happened to have a GMT complication. Last year, Bvlgari earned its sixth record for thinness with its Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic (3.50mm movement/7.40mm case).
The world’s thinnest Perpetual Calendar
Up until this morning, Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultrathin was the thinnest QP in the world. Powered by the automatic calibre 5133, the height of the Royal Oak movement is 2.89mm and the case is 6.30mm. Bvlgari’s Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar pushes the envelope further to produce a movement measuring 2.75mm and a case height of 5.80mm.
Without going into a detailed comparison of the two ultra-slim perpetual calendars, it’s interesting to note where they differ: the Royal Oak has a 41mm diameter compared to the Octo Finissimo’s 40mm; the power reserve on the RO is 40 hours, on the Octo Finissimo it is 60 hours; the RO features an openworked central rotor, the Finissimo relies on a micro-rotor; the RO has a moon phase indicator and day&night indicator while the Octo Finissimo doesn’t. However, they both share complex geometric cases with integrated bracelets, and both have incorporated the perpetual calendar mechanism into a pre-existing ultra-thin automatic movement – in both cases, it is not a modular architecture.
Homage to Gerald Genta
The layout of the perpetual calendar functions pays homage to the stylistic imprint of legendary designer Gerald Genta. Bvlgari, as you might remember, acquired the Gerald Genta brand in 2000. The brilliant watchmaking mind behind some of the most complicated and flamboyant timepieces at Bvlgari, like the Grande Sonnerie (1994) or the Arena Retrograde (1996), the expertise provided by Gerald Genta and his brand helped Bvlgari position itself as a force to contend with on the Haute Horlogerie scene.
In honour of Gerald Genta’s retrograde displays, celebrated in a 50th-anniversary edition of the Arena Bi-Retro, the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar features two retrograde indications for the date and the leap years. The date, printed in black in a semi-circle occupying most of the upper half of the dial, is retrograde, and when the hand reaches the last day of the month, it jumps counter-clockwise and returns to the 1 position. The leap year indicator, positioned at 6 o’clock, performs a similar reverse movement. As a sophisticated perpetual calendar, it can compute the exact length of the month (28, 30 or 31 days) and, when February has 29 days, automatically takes into account leap years. If kept wound, the Octo Finissimo will not need any adjustment until February 2100.
The 0.3mm thick sandblasted titanium dial is divided into two areas. Black baton hour markers that decrease in size as they reach noon demarcate the date display in the top half of the dial. The lower part of the dial houses the day of the week display on the left, the months on the right and the aforementioned leap year indicator at 6 o’clock. The hour markers (at 4, 5, 7 and 8 o’clock) are so short that it is easy to miss them. None of the displays is set inside sub-dials or framed; they are printed on the dial in black in a semi-circular and circular fashion.
The layout is tight and symmetrical, allowing a good deal of space for the displays with no overlapping hands or functions integrated inside other functions (leap years are often tucked into month counters, for example). Every function on this watch occupies an ample amount of dial space to enhance legibility. The hour and minute hands have been skeletonised to lighten their load and ensure they do not impede legibility. However, the discrepancy between the spacing on the days and months counters is a little unsettling. Perhaps the months could follow the date layout and use six months (Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sep, Nov, Dec) instead of cramming in all 12 months?
The octagonal 40mm case of the perpetual calendar is hallmark Octo Finissimo. Suited in sandblasted titanium – the official suit of all Octo Finissimo world record holders – the case features the complex architecture of the Octo family. Bvlgari has understood from the outset that a collection cannot survive on ultra-thin mechanics alone. Mechanical substance has to be married to style, and this is where the Octo Finissimo excels. Referred to by Bvlgari as L’Estetica della Meccanica, the interaction between mechanics and style is fundamental. Designed to evoke architectural motifs of Ancient Rome in a defiantly modern key, the Octo case is a fascinating study in facets (110!) and angles. It is urban and elegant: it is simply italianissimo.
With its sandblasted titanium case, dial and integrated bracelet, the perpetual calendar’s palette is monochrome, save for the markings on the dial and the hands. Three correctors in the case band are used to adjust the functions: at 2 o’clock for the date, at 4 o’clock for the month and between 8 and 9 o’clock for the day.
A perpetual calendar wristwatch is a sophisticated piece of machinery, and the last thing anybody wants is to let it deplete its power reserve. In this context, an automatic movement makes a lot more sense than a manual-winding one for the simple reason that when you are not wearing it, you can pop it inside a winder and not worry about the calendar functions getting out of sync.
Developed by Bvlgari’s design engineers at the manufacture in Le Sentier, in-house calibre BVL 305 is a marvel of miniaturisation. Measuring 36.6mm x 2.75mm, the automatic movement is comprised of 408 components. The movement is derived from the Octo Finissimo Automatic calibre BVL 138 and shares the same regulating organ, gear train, barrel with 60-hour power reserve and winding mechanism as the automatic. However, it would be a mistake to assume that the perpetual calendar was added on as a module. The perpetual calendar was completely integrated into the movement. Like other Octo Finissimo models, one height-saving solution is to arrange the components on a horizontal axis instead of stacking them, which explains the generous 36.6mm diameter of the movement.
Another space-saving device was the incorporation of a micro-rotor. The solid platinum micro-rotor is identical to the one used in the Octo Finissimo Automatic calibre BVL 138, although here it features a dark sandblasted interior and BVLGARI PERPETUAL CALENDAR engraved in relief. The bridges are decorated with Geneva stripes, and there is perlage on the main plate. The movement beats at 21,600 vibrations/hour and provides a robust power reserve of 60 hours.
Availability and Price
For those of you who prefer a watch with slightly more contrast and heft, there is also an Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar in platinum with contrasting satin and polished finishings and a lively blue lacquered dial. This model is comes with a matching blue alligator leather strap with a platinum pin buckle.
The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar in titanium will retail for EUR 60,000. The platinum model will retail for EUR 90,000.
More information at www.bulgari.com.