INTRODUCING: If Darth Vader wore a watch it’d be this Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon TourbillonThor Svaboe
One of my favourite traits of the Octo catalogue from Bulgari is its matte, smooth and very quiet elegance. While the endlessly creative Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bulgari’s chief watch designer, continually sets the bar ever higher, it’s mostly done without the flash and bang of complications. But this week we saw the debut of the Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon.
While Bulgari has created some more demonstrative pieces – like the sinous dynamic of the Serpenti series – the brand’s emphasis is generally on the understated style and fascinating angular design of the unique Octo case. On the back of that, Bulgari is now renowned for its paper-thin wristwear. But this dark testament to Haute Horlogerie is one of a strong deck of ultra complex cards in the Roma range. This watch combines a tourbillon with a repeater striking a three-hammer chime all packaged up in a stealthy dark suit that hints at the wondrous complexity within.
For connoisseurs of the Bulgari brand, the DNA of the minimalist Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon is mixed with the dramatic opulence of the Grande Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar, two milestones from the maison’s top tier. The dark case is anything but small, yet it’s still light in its 44mm DLC-coated titanium case. That’s fairly unusual for a repeater, but even though it hasn’t got the warmth or panache of gold, it does imbue the watch with excellent acoustic qualities and, yes, stealth wealth is very much a thing in 2021.
A futurist’s delight, the Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon looks like something from Darth Vader’s watchbox. The Roma case is layered in silky matte black with a vibe reminiscent of the cooling fins on a Ferrari engine’s valve cover – quietly assertive and as strong an octagonal shape as ever. The dial is dark and brooding, imprisoning the beguiling detail work of the movement behind a slatted black surface with the brilliantly polished hammers visible at 10 o’clock. Polished, perfectly finished screws underline the industrial darkness and the beauty of the toubillon’s slow twirl at six. The balance of complexity and minimalism is a testament to the creative vision of Buonamassa Stigliani (Fabrizio ti prego, send me a sketch, it will be framed, per favore!).
The bold angular lugs hold a dark alligator strap and turn it around at your peril. On the flipside you’ll see the mind-boggling detail of the hand-wound BVL428 calibre – I dare you to comprehend even a fraction of its complex assemblage. By reversing the normal layout for a chiming watch, we are given the opportunity to see the hand-bevelled hammers do their magic trick merely by looking down at our wrist and prodding the pusher at 9.
Visible through the caseback, the swirls of cams and bridges are intrinsically fascinating as is the particular way the case has hollowed-out sections to allow the sound to travel. Open-worked plates and bridges are treated in black PVD and work in delicious contrast to a wealth of hand-bevelled details. Securing one of the 15 pieces of the Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon would certainly be the pinnacle of most collections. This mix of dark futurism with timeless craftsmanship is pure audacity spelt with a capital “B” for Bulgari.
The Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon will be available in selected Bulgari boutiques, price: $259,000US.