All watch brands like to talk about their “iconic” timepieces. Clearly, it’s not hard to designate your own “icons” within collections you have designed. But true icons are a different matter. Two variables define the iconic status of a piece: longevity, and public opinion.
On the basis of these two criteria, the candidates can be thinned out quite a bit. However, one timepiece that is always a strong claimant is the Octo, created by Bulgari in the 1940s. Seventy years later, it is still part of the collection, and it continues to evolve. That’s quite an achievement for a company that started out not as a Swiss watchmaker, but an Italian jeweller!
And then there’s public opinion which, given the Octo’s longevity, is clearly part of the mix. Collectors continue to buy in to the collection, more than 70 years after its creation. Nevertheless, Bulgari was not content with this public show of support, however loyal and massive. At the turn of the century (and the millennium), the company set up its own Swiss Made manufacture, which would lead to a new Octo. Its name was Octo Finissimo.
Five years, five prizes
The timepiece not only confirmed the multi-generational appeal of the first Octo, it would also conquer a new category of collectors, beat world records, and gather up armfuls of international prizes, while convincingly resuscitating a watchmaking genre that everyone thought was consigned to history: the ultra-thin watch. All that, at the same time, and in less than five years!
Today, the majority of collectors agree that the Octo Finissimo can hold its own alongside the Royal Oak (Audemars Piguet), the Cosmograph Daytona (Rolex) and the Nautilus (Patek Philippe). The future will no doubt confirm that they are right.
Industry professionals need no convincing. In 2017, the Octo Finissimo Automatic was awarded the coveted Men’s Watch Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). But this was not Bulgari’s first rodeo; far from it. Between 2014 and 2018 it smashed four world records: thinnest manual tourbillon, automatic tourbillon, minute repeater and three-handed automatic. In April 2019, Bulgari secured its fifth world record for the world’s thinnest chronograph, with a Chrono GMT model measuring just 6.90 mm deep.
A panoply of finishes
The Octo Finissimo is different because it has a very strong technical and aesthetic identity, based on the contemporary ultra-thin genre. Just a few millimetres of watch become a distillation of modernity. Its lines are tight and controlled, but vibrant. The finishes capture the spirit of the age, as do the materials: carbon, ceramic, titanium, steel. The Octo Finissimo is a timepiece for collectors of all ages who are looking to the future of watchmaking.
Bulgari successfully revolutionised the ultra-thin watchmaking genre, thanks in part to the addition of disruptive finishes. The same goes for skeletonisation, which is omnipresent throughout the collection. Using this technique, precious millimetres can be gained, while producing a radically modern aesthetic. Who knows where the future of the Octo Finissimo will take it. In the meantime, the Bulgari manufacture continues to work tirelessly to incorporate new complications and materials.