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Retrospective – Bvlgari and Its Entire Record-Breaking Octo Finissimo Collection

retrospective-–-bvlgari-and-its-entire-record-breaking-octo-finissimo-collection

It’s been seven years in the making so far, but we’re pretty sure it won’t end where it is right now. This year marked the seventh record-breaking release by Bvlgari, with the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar, the world’s thinnest QP. But where did it actually start? We take a little trip down memory lane and go through all the groundbreaking, record-setting models, from the very first down to the lastest.

Ultra-thin watchmaking is a complication in itself, especially when it comes to the marginal sizes we’re talking about. Several brands are renowned for their work in the field of ultra-thin watches. Piaget, Jaeger LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet for instance, all have a long-standing relationship with the concept of trying to build the slimmest possible watches.

Bvlgari stepped into the limelight in 2014 with the introduction of the sporty-chic Octo Finissimo. This ultra-modern watch, inspired by the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome, serves as a perfect platform for Bvlgari’s devotion to slenderness. The sharply-penned, angular case is a sight to behold in itself, especially when combined with complex mechanisms bypassing certain challenges to achieve records in the process. Bvlgari themselves describe it as the slim-fit shirt for watchmaking, and that seems like a fitting description.

To sketch the context a little, we must not forget what led to the introduction of the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon. The brand is first and foremost a haute joaillerie powerhouse, which produces some of the finest jewellery pieces out there. Yes, Bvlgari also made watches but these were never the core focus for the brand. Things started to change when it purchased the Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth watch manufactures and gradually integrated both in the Bvlgari corporation.

What started out as leading high-end jewellery manufacture also making watches started to shift towards fine watchmaking more and more. In 2014 the saga for ultra-thin, record-breaking watches by Bvlgari began, with the release of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon. Now, seven years down the line and seven records under its belt (although some broken ones by now) we felt it was time for a little retrospective.

2014 – Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon (thinnest tourbillon movement, thinnest tourbillon watch)

Record status: broken

Baselworld 2014 was the stage where Bvlgari launched its first record-breaking watch, the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon. It caused quite the sensation amongst the industry, at least when thinness is concerned. The case was sharp and angular, like all Octo Finissimo models, and measured just 5,00mm in height, making it the thinnest tourbillon watch in the world.

At the same time this watch broke a second record, and that is for the thinnest tourbillon movement. Bvlgari started with the regulating organ and decided to construct the movement around it. The tourbillon movement is just 1,95mm thin which is paper-thin. All 249 components were designed and constructed to keep the height down to a minimum, and are made in-house by the manufacture. The movement is hand-wound as a rotor would mean a significant increase in size.

Quick Facts – 40mm diameter x 5,00mm height – platinum case – Finissimo Tourbillon calibre, in-house – 249 components – 1,95mm thin – tourbillon escapement – 21,600vph (3Hz frequency) – 55h power reserve – CHF 130,000

2016 – Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater (thinnest minute repeater watch)

Record status: unbroken

Only two years after the first entry in the field of ultra-thin watchmaking, came the second record-setting watch by Bvlgari, with another very complex movement; the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater. The ultra-thin  movement was housed in a titanium case, which better amplifies the sound of the striking mechanism compared to steel or gold. The Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater case measured just 6,85mm thick, with the movement being just 3,12mm in height.

Cutting down on the height of both movement and case, Bvlgari resorted to some unusual techniques. The chiming mechanism is activated with a slim pusher set at 9 o’clock for instance. The centrifugal strike governor, regulating the minute repeater mechanism, measures only 3,3 in diameter including the inertia weights. To date, the record remains unbroken.

Quick Facts – 40mm diameter x 6,85mm height – titanium case, crown and minute repeater pusher – Calibre BLV362, in-house – manual winding – 362 components – 3,12mm thin minute repeater movement – 21,600vph (3Hz frequency) – 42h power reserve – limited edition of 50 pieces – CHF 160,000

2017 – Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic (thinnest automatic watch)

Record status: broken

The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic is the least complex in terms of watchmaking, but still a highly impressive watch. For a while it remained the thinnest automatic watch on the market, only to be trumped by the 4.30mm thick Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic introduced the same year. It features all the hallmarks of the Octo Finissimo family; the architectural case, an as minimalistic as possible dial and of course an ultra-thin profile and movement. The total height of the watch is a wafer-thin 5,15mm with just 2,23mm for the movement.

Quick Facts – 40mm diameter x 5.15mm height – grade 5 sandblasted titanium case – Calibre BLV138 automatic movement, in-house – 2.23mm in height – platinum micro-rotor – 31 jewels – 21,600vph (3Hz frequency) – 60h power reserve – EUR 14,800

2018 – Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic (thinnest automatic watch, thinnest tourbillon watch)

Record status: unbroken

Bvlgari set not one, but two records with this watch; thinnest automatic watch in the world and thinnest tourbillon watch in the world. With the release of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, Bvlgari broke a personal record and one previously held by Piaget. It established a new world record for the thinnest automatic watch at 3.95mm in height (movement and case) and thinnest tourbillon watch in the world.

The latter is a record previously set by Bvlgari in 2014 with the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon. The case then was an already impressive 5.00mm in height, which is now reduced to 3,95mm. The movement remains the same slender 1,95mm but has been converted to automatic winding. It uses the same geartrain, regulating organ and design for bridges and plates but equipped with an ingenious peripheral rotor.

Quick Facts – 42mm diameter x 3,95mm height – sandblasted titanium case – solid titanium caseback with small aperture – calibre BLV288, in-house – 1.95mm in height – peripheral winding rotor – flying one-minute tourbillon – 21,600vph (3Hz frequency) – 52h power reserve – CHF 120,000

2019 – Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT (thinnest mechanical chronograph movement)

Record status: unbroken

One of the most challenging accomplishments in the quest for ultra-thin watchmaking by Bvlgari is without a doubt the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT. It is one of the most complex movement types to develop, especially if it has to fit within an ultra-compact 6.90mm titanium case. The entire movement measures only 3.3mm in height though, so job well done Bvlgari!

The movement is a fully integrated chronograph calibre, that uses a column-wheel with additional GMT complication. It has a peripheral winding rotor system, just like the record-breaking watch before it did. It was once again a perfect demonstration of the watchmaking capabilities by Bvlgari.

Quick Facts – 42mm diameter x 6.90mm height – sandblasted titanium case with double sapphire crystal – calibre BVL 318, in-house – integrated chronograph movement with column-wheel – independent second time-zone display – 28,800vph (4Hz) frequency – 55h power reserve – CHF 16,500

2020 – Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic (thinnest tourbillon chronograph watch)

Record status: unbroken

Just last year Bvlgari proved once more it is among the best in class when it comes to ultra-thin watchmaking. Combining the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT from 2019 with a tourbillon escapement, and in the process fully skeletonizing it, the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic broke records once again.

This watch laid claim to the title of thinnest tourbillon chronograph in the world, with a case of only 7.40mm in height and a movement of 3.50mm. It is slightly thicker than the non-tourbillon version, but we’re really splitting hairs if we are to complain about this. The visual spectacle is unheard of, with a nice balance between the open-worked barrel and tourbillon escapement, countered with the two registers for the chronograph display. Only one pusher is used to start, stop and reset the chronograph while the other selects the crown function.

Quick Facts – 42mm diameter x 7.40mm height – sandblasted titanium case – calibre BVL 388, in-house – integrated monopusher chronograph movement – tourbillon escapement – peripheral rotor – crown-function selector – 21,600vph (3Hz) – 52h power reserve – EUR 155,000

2021 – Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar (thinnest QP watch)

Record status: unbroken

The final chapter in the saga is the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar. So far that is, as Managing Director for the Bvlgari Watch Division Antoine Pin hinted there’s still more to come in an interview we did. This watch was introduced during Watches & Wonders 2021 and breaks the record for the thinnest Perpetual Calendar watch in the world. The relentless devotion to ultra-thin watchmaking has now come full circle in terms of the Grande Complications; tourbillon, minute repeater, perpetual calendar.

The Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar relies on the in-house BLV305 calibre, measuring 2,75mm thick, with the case a mere 5,0mm in height. This beats the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultrathin in both categories (movement, and total thickness) by some margin. Of course, shaving off half a millimetre might not sound like much but considering that only 5,80mm remains that means a loss of almost 10 per cent of the total height.

The retrograde display of the date and the leap year indication is a homage to the Gerald Genta brand’s retrograde watches. Besides these indications, and obviously the time, it also indicates the day of the week and month of the year.

Quick Facts – 40mm diameter x 5,80mm height – titanium or platinum case – in-house Calibre BLV305 integrated perpetual calendar movement – 408 components – 2,75mm in height – 35 jewels – 21,600vph (3Hz frequency) – 60h power reserve – time, date, day of the week, month, leap year – EUR 60,000 in titanium, EUR 90,000 in platinum

https://monochrome-watches.com/retrospective-bvlgari-and-its-record-breaking-octo-finissimo-collection/

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