HANDS-ON: Why the new Bulgari Octo Roma Automatic won me over with its quiet luxury appeal HANDS-ON: Why the new Bulgari Octo Roma Automatic won me over with its quiet luxury appeal

HANDS-ON: Why the new Bulgari Octo Roma Automatic won me over with its quiet luxury appeal

Kylie Lloyd-Wyatt

This year the Bulgari Octo Roma received a long overdue makeover that brings it more in line with its more flashy sibling Finissimo. Not only do the changes add welcome continuity across the collection, but also a little extra elegance to the collection’s more affordable but no less delightful offering. I would hazard a guess that when most of us think of Bulgari’s Octo collection we think of the Finissimo. Since unveiling the Octo collection in 2012 they seem to have focused mainly on growing the Finissimo collection with various iterations including some pretty special ones; the Tadao Ando and ultra thin versions come to mind.

The Roma, a more elegant and simplified piece has been largely left in the shadows. It reminds me of siblings; Finissimo is the edgy, extroverted sibling, and Roma the more reserved, introverted and kinda forgotten one. But seeing the updated version in the metal I can safely say that it is no longer the forgotten child, and it might, in fact,  just be the very definition of quiet luxury.

The case and dials

The thing that stuck me first up when handling this watch was the radial rather than circular brushing on the bezel. Of course it brings it in line with the finishing on the Finissimo, but to me it’s more than that. The radial brushing catches the light in such a playful way, whilst drawing the eye into the octagonally shaped dial. The dial colourways are classic white, silver and blue which I think adds to the quiet luxury appeal, but unlike the previous version it’s subtly textured with a nicely executed clous de Paris pattern.

The finishing has a slight metallic shimmer and when combined with the pattern, creates a quite lush effect that adds depth whilst complementing the light play of the other dial furniture and case finishing. On this model the hour markers and indices are applied and lumed with Superluminova as are the hour and minute hands and there’s a date at 3 o’clock which is small and unobtrusive. I also like that the dial verbiage is kept to a minimum…no essays on this one. The case in stainless steel is 41mm, 9.15mm thick and of course octagonally shaped. The interchanging brushed and polished surfaces on the layered case create contrast, accentuate the case design and add further light play.

The bracelet and straps

The bracelet is the standard Octo design, but, at least to me, never ceases to impress. It’s supple, well articulated and nicely finished with polished central sections and chamfers for added elegance and sparkle. The lug width is narrower than on the Finissimo accentuating the curves of the Roma silhouette whilst minimising geometric blockiness. It also comes with an additional rubber strap with an interchangeable system, so you can easily dress it up or down depending on the setting: the bracelet for the office and the rubber for drinks after work. And let’s not forget its sporting DNA, the 100m of water resistance, up from the 50m in the previous version, will also get you to the beach at the weekend.

The movement

Inside the Roma has been tricked up with the in-house BVL191 automatic movement crafted in Switzerland. It offers 42 hours of power reserve at a decent 4Hz. The movement which is visible through an exhibition caseback is nicely finished with a signed rotor and cote de Genève striping to a level consistent with its price point.

The verdict

The wear is where the Roma really impresses. 41mm for an integrated design can sound a bit overbearing if you have small wrists like me, but I can definitely say that having worn this watch, it will suit smaller along with larger wrists. The case is not bulky or top-heavy so sits comfortable and will slide easily under a cuff. The bracelet doesn’t have a solid end link so on the wrist it feels restrained and the bracelet with it’s small links hugs the wrist closely making it really easy to get a snug and comfortable fit. For me the only bugbear is that the blue dial has a white date window, where I would have preferred it blend in with the dial more. Having said that, it’s a pretty small nit pick for what is really a very stylish watch. I was genuinely impressed by the understated yet stunning design and quality finishing and was struck by how the concept of quiet luxury resonated strongly through this piece. I liked it so much that I definitely thought twice about giving it back and the fresh white dial is now a serious contender for a place in my own collection.

Bulgari Octo Roma Automatic pricing and availability:

The new Bulgari Octo Roma Automatic will be available from Bulgari boutiques, authorised dealers, and their website. Price: €7,900

Brand Bulgari
Model Octo Roma Automatic
Case Dimensions 41mm x 42.5mm x 9.15mm
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 100m
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Blue, grey or white
Lug Width Integrated
Strap Steel bracelet and colour-matched rubber strap
Movement BVL 191
Power Reserve 48 hours
Availability Available now
Price €7,900