Italian jewellery house Bulgari became a watchmaker accidentally. In 1975 they made 100 unique watches as gifts for important customers. The popularity of this limited release meant that the iconic Bulgari Bulgari followed soon after. Today their watches include the popular Octo and the Lucea lines. Explore Bulgari’s timepieces at Time+Tide.

VIDEO: The watches of Bulgari’s record-breaking Octo Finissimo collection explained

It’s probably a cliché to say that the Italian jewellery house of Bulgari is going through a watchmaking renaissance, but it’s hard to argue with the sense of renewed vigour and energy that’s flowing through their unashamedly modern designs. And at the core of this rebirth is one design – The Octo. What began life as one of Gérald Genta’s characteristic octagonals has evolved into something more stripped-back, focused, and much, much thinner. The man who has driven this evolution is Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Director of Bulgari’s Watches Design Center, a designer who’s swapped fast cars for something much, much smaller. We recently caught up with Fabrizio and discussed Bulgari’s record-breaking journey, which began in 2014 with the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon and continued in 2016 with the incredible Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater. The most recent leg in the trip is the thinnest automatic on the market, the Octo Finissimo Automatic. And based on the critical success and popular appeal of the line, we’d be surprised if we don’t see a lot more of the industrial-chic aesthetic of the Octo Finissimo.

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VIDEO: Just how thin is the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic?

It’s not too hard to appreciate how thin 5.15mm is in abstract terms – it’s a shade thicker than two 20 cent pieces, FYI – and pictures of the Octo Finissimo Automatic get you a little further along the path to understanding. But short of actually having the watch in your hand or on your wrist, the best way of contextualising just how incredibly slim this watch is is through the medium of video. Luckily, we’ve put this short video review together so you can get a sense of how it wears in glorious HD. The only thing we can’t convey? The way this watch manages to feel as light as a feather and solid as a rock at the same time.

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IN-DEPTH: The slender sexiness of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic

The story in a second: Forget bling: thin is in, and Bulgari are king. The Octo Finissimo Automatic is the latest in Bulgari’s trio of record-breaking ultra-thin watches, and perhaps the greatest. We have a look at the watch’s barely-there beauty, and find out why it’s such a standout. The case Any discussion of the Octo Finissimo Automatic has to start with some specs. And for the case, the key figure is 5.15mm. That’s slight, no matter how you slice it, but it manages to avoid feeling frail on the wrist. The level of finishing is very high, and you can see how anything superfluous has been pared back or – in the example of the caseback – removed completely.  For me, though, the real surprise about this case wasn’t how thin it was, it’s the weight. On the excellent bracelet (more on that later), the Octo Finissimo clocks in at only 73 grams, thanks to the titanium construction. It’s so light that I did an almost comical double take the first time I picked it up. But the benefit of the titanium case extends beyond its lightness; it’s exceptionally thermo-conductive, meaning it very quickly matches your body temperature, making… Read More

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VIDEO: The watches of Bulgari’s record-breaking Octo Finissimo collection explained

It’s probably a cliché to say that the Italian jewellery house of Bulgari is going through a watchmaking renaissance, but it’s hard to argue with the sense of renewed vigour and energy that’s flowing through their unashamedly modern designs. And at the core of this rebirth is one design – The Octo. What began life as one of Gérald Genta’s characteristic octagonals has evolved into something more stripped-back, focused, and much, much thinner. The man who has driven this evolution is Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Director of Bulgari’s Watches Design Center, a designer who’s swapped fast cars for something much, much smaller. We recently caught up with Fabrizio and discussed Bulgari’s record-breaking journey, which began in 2014 with the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon and continued in 2016 with the incredible Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater. The most recent leg in the trip is the thinnest automatic on the market, the Octo Finissimo Automatic. And based on the critical success and popular appeal of the line, we’d be surprised if we don’t see a lot more of the industrial-chic aesthetic of the Octo Finissimo.

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HANDS-ON: When your hands are tied, consensually – Bulgari Serpenti Skin collection

Ancient Greek and Roman mythology furnish Bulgari with emblems from across the epochs, but their love affair with bold women in history also holds sway on their aesthetic. Like serpents, these dangerous beauties are sinful and sinuous — and nothing less than paradoxical. Fittingly, their latest Serpenti watch is a timepiece that can literally shed its skin. I regret not unravelling my tape measure to record the length of the thin double tour strap of the Bulgari Serpenti Skin, but it just felt so at ease on me I was happy to let it linger a while, almost unobtrusive except for its expansive curvature. This watch is a subtle charmer, and that was the point. Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Director of Bulgari Watches Design Centre in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, was evidently looking to diverge from the statement dressing of the potent Tubogas and explore personalisation and transformability with this first release on a leather or skin strap. Beyond choosing watch elements and one of the two straps the watch is accompanied by, the way your Serpenti Skin is wrapped to your wrist is uniquely your own. Whether anticipating a combatant or work ally, your snake head dial may be tilted towards a… Read More

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HANDS-ON: A softer shape – the Bulgari Octo Roma

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, rather ironically, is not a saying that appears to be said very often around the watch design department at Bulgari. In the last few years the brand’s unique Octo collection has thrust them to the forefront of watch manufacturing, not only technically – with record-breaking pieces like the thinnest tourbillon, the thinnest minute repeater, and the thinnest automatic movement – but aesthetically as well, with unique eight-sided case designs inspired by the octagonal motifs adorning the domed ceilings of the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome. This year, creating what Bulgari refer to as the “fifth element” of the Octo line, they have released the Octo Roma, with a softer take on this bold, masculine case design. Less square and more round, the 41mm case has been reworked, with its lugs narrowed to 32.5mm, emphasising the circular bezel and greatly reducing the number of facets from 110 to 58. However, the Octo’s iconic case shape is not lost. Instead, the Octo Roma has brought the design back to its purest form, the octagon, but in a more rounded way. Available in steel, 18k pink gold, or a combination of both, the Octo Roma is… Read More

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HANDS-ON: Aggressively monochrome – the blacked-out Bulgari Octo Ultranero

With its intensely angular octagonal case, it’s easy to see why Bulgari’s Octo collection is a cult favourite. And the latest versions take the model down a darker path. We looked at the crimson-accented version earlier this year, and today we go even darker with the full-black Octo Ultranero. The case is the same as always – 41 mm steel treated with a black DLC, and rated to 100m. But while its red-and-black companion plays with contrast, this version offers nothing but black. The matt black hands and indices all but disappear into the equally black dial, and leave the case to be the dark and brooding hero. In fact, unless the light is hitting the inky lacquered dial at just the right angle, you’re going to have trouble seeing those sleek, skeletonised, dauphine-style hands against it. But legibility isn’t the main concern here. This watch manages to be both bold and understated, a difficult trick to pull off. The attention is on the Octo’s iconic Gerald Genta designed case. With razor-sharp lines and multiple facets, it’s a somewhat sinister play of light and shadow, reminiscent of a stealth fighter. Each of the many brushed black sides contrast or highlight… Read More

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