INTRODUCING: The breathtaking and brutally slim Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton AutomaticThor Svaboe
Let’s be honest, 2020 is not just a year of disastrous market decline, job losses and lockdowns. This year has also been one of rapid change and lateral thinking within the horological community. There have also been many heartening examples of the show going on, despite the uncertain backdrop. And with another stunning timepiece in the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic, it’s proof again that there’s no stopping Jean-Christophe Babin and Bulgari, as we witness yet another record-breaking complication for the ultra-thin Octo Finissimo.
What is a certainty is that the Finissimo line was launched only six years ago, but it has changed our perceptions of ultra-thin in every category, from aesthetics to functionality, and here is, dare I say, the pinnacle of the catalogue. The chronograph GMT was released in 2019, wowing even the Finissimo sceptics (all of three people) with its engaging design and functionality. This is no less than the blessed marriage of this and the Finissimo Tourbillon, in itself a masterpiece of delicate micro-engineering.
The case measures 42mm by a still unbelievable 7.40mm thickness, and comes in the silken sandblasted case still representing horology on-point in 2020. The caliber BVLA388 has a 50-hour power reserve from its ultra-thin barrel with the caliber itself measuring only a paper-thin 3.50mm. How the artisans of Bulgari manage to stay at the front of the pack with the Finissimo is astounding. So, we have yet another marvel in what is a niche within a very thin niche.
The dial of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic is dominated by — in spite of the only non-skeletonised elements being the chronograph registers — the slim, taut tourbillon bridge, bereft of any decoration save discreet anglage, but the eyes are immediately drawn to the ultra-slim magic that is the tourbillon, necessitating the purchase of an entire set of loupes should you be one of the happy clients on the list.
A beautifully finished central jewel marks the spot, and the rest of the dial is as attractive as we remember it from the GMT Chrono, with the sharp yet unobtrusive hands almost excusing themselves for being on the same dial as the splendour of the tourbillon and the micro-machinery behind the scene. For all its metal-on-metal raw micro-wonder, it is still a legible functional chronograph with superbly designed pushers integrating snugly with the case. The edgy architectural piece is now familiar, despite its short life of only six years, which speaks volumes for the impact it has had.
One of the reasons is the power emanating from the peripheral rotor, which is but one of the cut-away and infinitesimal ways Bulgari has managed to save space, and the skeletonised movement is truly a functional work of art that sets the bar almost too high, but guarantees the future of innovation within a struggling business and horology in general. The bridges and metalwork within the tight confines of the watch are at the rear, visibly cut down for functionality with the restricted area, but not sacrificing the delicate bevels of haute horology.
This is clearly and fascinatingly witnessed in any component you may choose to zoom in on, whether it be a simple bridge or the tourbillon cage itself. It’s functional art made real. The 52-jewel movement has the envious baffling quality of appearing equally tough, delicate and futuristic, and leaves us wondering where the graph will top out, as I’m running out of ideas for new complications. But Jean-Christophe and his team no doubt already have a substantial shortlist for the next couple of years.