Why I bought the Bulgari Octo Finissimo: What the owners’ experience is really likeNick Kenyon
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo is well on its way to being a modern classic. Launched just seven years ago in 2014 and drawing off the sharp Italian geometry of the Octo Roma, it is a collection that has gone from strength to strength, breaking world records for thinness on average once every year. That’s right, seven world records in seven years, the most recent being the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar that was released earlier in 2021. But what makes it such a compelling piece of watchmaking? I spoke to two friends of Time+Tide about why they bought the Bulgari Octo Finissimo and what the owners’ experience is really like.
Why did you buy it?
Jean-Paul (@jp_melbs) owns the steel version with black dial: I was looking for a watch to celebrate the birth of my son. I wanted something elegant and sleek, but not too dressy. The Octo Finissimo had been on my radar for a while, but I didn’t love the titanium or ceramic versions as they felt a bit toy-like to me and I wasn’t sure about the 30m water resistance. When Bulgari announced the stainless-steel versions with the screw down crown and 100m water resistance, I only had to choose between the black and the blue dial. I ultimately went with the black, because firstly I think the matte black is a nice contrast to the very shiny case and secondly because I own the Vacheron Constantin Overseas, which – in my opinion – has the best blue dial in the world of sports watches.
Bryan Robertson (@mrwmelbourne) owns the steel version with blue dial: The bracelet and the multiple facets of the case is the main reason. I feel the level of art combined with engineering in a piece like this will always give me a different aesthetic story when I look at it. The way the light continually changes from each facet and bevel. And when I tried it in in the boutique, the steel felt durable enough to handle my lifestyle. I originally tried on the titanium and felt it to be too delicate for me. And the clincher was the 100m of water resistance.
What surprises you about it?
JP: The coolest feature, apart from how incredibly thin it is, is the recessed deployant clasp. It allows the bracelet to sit completely flat on the wrist. Six links of the bracelet are hollowed out to achieve this and it’s something I haven’t seen from any other brand. Amazing engineering! I also love just how comfortably it wears. It’s light enough for you to almost forget you’re wearing a watch, but still manages to have lots of wrist presence as well as the robustness you’d expect from a sports watch.
BR: The thickness. Every. Single. Time. I’m not hugely amazed by the world records (cool stories though when chatting to non-watch people) but the feeling of such a thin watch is unbelievable.
When do you reach for it in your watch box?
JP: Any time I want that X-factor! It’s hard to describe, but this watch just oozes coolness. It’s sporty enough to wear with jeans and a t-shirt, but also dresses up incredibly well.
BR: Usually on days where I want to be distracted by what’s on my wrist. I’ll take it off plenty, flip it over, run the bracelet through my fingers. Probably my least productive days at work whenever I wear this, ha-ha.
Where is it on the “most commented” scale of your collection?
JP: It’s definitely near the top. I think that a lot of people who aren’t into watches recognise Bulgari as a brand, but once you take the watch off and hand it to someone, they see how thin it is and appreciate the amazing movement – a conversation-starter for sure! People who are into watches are sometimes surprised by the fact that a “jewellery brand” is able to pull off a high-horology sports watch like that. Every time I post it on Instagram, I get messages from people who seem to love it.
BR: Believe it or not, it’s equal top (with my bronze Zelos).
What kind of person should consider this as a piece to add to their collection?
JP: Everyone who is looking for a high-horology sports watch without a price tag that’s too crazy and who won’t put up with all the wait-list BS. To me, the Octo Finissimo is a legend in the making that most watch enthusiasts are still sleeping on.
BR: Someone who appreciates the highest level of mechanical engineering, not just in watches but in all types of mechanical engineering full stop. And those who appreciate the science and art of optics in their watches too.
Where does it win in a competitive set?
JP: That’s a tough question, Nick. I don’t think it competes with the Rolex Submariner, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is probably a better match. I think it holds up extremely well against it, especially considering the price. The Octo is an expensive watch, but you get a lot for your money. An amazingly thin case, a platinum micro rotor, a hand-finished, in-house self-winding movement, a full balance bridge, Côtes de Genève, chamfered bridges and one of the best bracelets in the business. It’s really hard to fault. I love the Royal Oak, but I find the Octo to be an incredibly cool alternative that is just a little bit more exciting. It’s even 25% thinner than the 15202!
BR: Is it up against the Rolex Submariner or the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or something else entirely? Neither – I’d place this in amongst Vacheron Constantin or A. Lange & Söhne, towards their sports categories. I’ve heard it compared to the Royal Oak or Nautilus, but this is another level in terms of design.
How often do you wear it?
JP: A lot more than I thought I would. I sometimes go two weeks without taking it off. It’s that good.
BR: It’s on heavy rotation. During summer it was once a week but now I’m reaching for it more and more as the longer sleeves come into play.