LIVE PICS: The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra is the new thinnest mechanical watch in the world at 1.8mm LIVE PICS: The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra is the new thinnest mechanical watch in the world at 1.8mm

LIVE PICS: The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra is the new thinnest mechanical watch in the world at 1.8mm

Zach Blass

With a marketplace that thrives on the emotional connection between consumer and brand heritage, anniversary milestones have become a prominent moment for manufacturers to celebrate their creations. Typically we see a storied reference executed in limited numbers, with a new special dial, and, perhaps, a precious case metal, with a commemorative caseback or winding rotor. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Bulgari’s Octo collection, and to celebrate the Roman Jeweller of Time went big – or should I say thin. The Octo Finissimo collection is known for being ultra-thin, the collection as a whole having seven records under its belt for thinness across varying levels of complications. Today, however, Bulgari sets their eighth and most challenging record yet, with their new Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra that is astonishingly 1.8mm thick.

A three year project for the Bulgari team, in partnership with avant-garde movement development specialist Concepto, the Octo Finissimo Ultra beats out the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept by 0.2mm – a 2mm thick watch introduced in 2020. I honestly did not think the record would be broken once again so soon, but it is a testament to Bulgari’s passion for ultra-thin dominance. To understand just how thin the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra is, the 40mm case is as thin as a 20 cent euro coin.

With a watch so thin, as a manufacturer you have to be very careful with what materials are utilised – you don’t want the watch to snap in half after all. Piaget, in order to accommodate a case 2mm thick had to use cobalt due to more traditional materials being unable to handle stress with such a thin profile. So, this, of course, was a major obstacle Bulgari needed to overcome.

Bulgari explains: “Another issue for a watch measuring 40mm in diameter and only 1.80mm thick was the overall rigidity required, which was achieved by developing the case middle, bezel and titanium lugs as well as the caseback/mainplate element in tungsten carbide, a particularly dense, hard and ultra-resistant combination of carbon and tungsten.”

To be clear, the 1.8mm measurement is taken from the caseback to the top of the sapphire crystal. Were you to measure from the top of the crystal to the bottom of the lugs, the measurement would be a tad greater. But I believe this will work in the favour of those lucky enough to acquire one of the ten watches, as the camber will allow the incredibly flat watch to sit that much better on the wrist. Equally as fascinating, Bulgari was also able to produce a sand-blasted titanium bracelet to match the case. Of course, the challenge there is to create a bracelet that sits flush to the case and is equally as thin – maintaining the continuity of its record thing profile. This mean realising a bracelet with links that are effectively half as thick as the links previous Octo Finissimo bracelets. They even managed to keep the butterfly clasp design, which rests flush within the bracelet, for this watch as well.

Now you might be wondering, how do you wind and set a watch so thin? Bulgari explains: “If it had to fit on a 1.80 mm thickness, a classic vertical crown would be much too small and impossible to handle properly. The solution adopted was to use two horizontally placed knobs – one for winding and the other for setting – which enable easy handling when the watch is on the wrist.”

With a watch so thin, the dial and movement must share the same plane, and the caseback must become the mainplate for the BVL calibre 180. The manual calibre, with 50 hours of power reserve, is comprised of 170 components – all of which needed to be miniaturised in order to rest within a 1.8mm thick watch. And, on top of all of that, the movement and dial components are nicely decorated with a mix of sandblasting, brushing, snailing and chamfering that are incredibly difficult to execute to components of such tiny dimensions.

The dial also takes on interesting format to take on and win the ultra-thin challenge. Two regulator style indicators reveal the hours and minutes on separate dials, the hours conveyed at the 2′ position and minutes at the 4′ position. Nestled within a cut-out portion of the minutes dial, you will find a running seconds display directly on the fourth wheel – a clever solution to provide running seconds in a record-thin watch. This is a subtle, yet major achievement, as the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept that previously held the record only conveyed the hours and minutes.

It is also important to note that engraved on the barrel’s ratchet wheel is a QR code, unique to each of the ten watches, offering each owner exclusive access to a dedicated digital universe. Each code leads to an individual NFT artwork that guarantees the authentic and unique character of the watch.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra – 103611 pricing and availability:

The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra – 103611 is a limited edition of 10 pieces. For more information on availability and pricing, please contact your local Bulgari boutique directly.