It takes a great deal of skill to make a very thin watch. When every fraction of a millimetre makes a difference, there’s literally no room to hide. And it isn’t just the engineering challenge of producing an accurate, robust watch that’s thinner than many coins. It’s also a significant design challenge to make one that doesn’t disappear on the wrist.
Watches powered by Bulgari’s Finissimo movement manage this balancing act well – in particular the Finissimo Tourbillon, whose movement is the thinnest flying tourbillon ever made, at a stunningly slender 1.95mm.
The Roma that we’re looking at today is a little less complex than the tourbillon, though not much bigger – the BVL 128 calibre is just 2.23mm, and the entire watch measures 5.15mm high. What’s genius about this watch is just how much presence it has on the wrist. At 41mm across, it’s large, and the clean, uncluttered dial and smooth bezel makes it wear bigger, as do the straight lines of the lugs and case sides. It’s powerful in its simplicity, with only the ‘Bulgari’ text and off-centre small seconds disrupting the mirror finish of the jet-black dial.
The good looks continue on the rear. Aside from being slim, the BVL 128 is a handsome movement, dominated with large, symmetrical plates, nicely finished with Geneva stripes. An added feature is the power reserve indicator, which has wisely been kept off the dial. It’s useful information, especially on a manually winding piece, but you don’t need to know it every time you look down at your watch.
It’s remarkable how enduring the Roma Finissimo is. A tribute to the first Bulgari Roma, released in 1975, it’s a testament to the strength of the design that it’s just as relevant and stylish 40 years on. Clearly, the fact Bulgari lacks the centuries of watchmaking heritage boasted by other brands shouldn’t be seen as a weakness. Instead, as relative newcomers they should be praised for just how far they’ve come in 40 years.
The Roma Finissimo is (if you’ll pardon the pun) a fine watch that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the ultra-thin offerings from Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre. But more than that, with this watch Bulgari shows us that heritage is measured by the strength of your designs, not how many years you’ve been in business.
Bulgari Roma Finissimo Australian pricing
The Bulgari Roma Finissimo has an RRP of $16,200.
Images by Jason Reekie.