The days when bigger meant better are long gone. Over the past decade, watchmakers have set their sights on the small scale, churning out impressive releases that reject the bulky frames of yesteryear, instead, focusing on thinness. Since 2018, Piaget has reigned supreme, with its iconic Altiplano Ultimate Concept measuring up at just 2mm thick, but there is a new sheriff in town. Bulgari has just unveiled the new Octo Finissimo Ultra, a robust mechanical watch that packs a lot into its tiny, record-breaking 1.8mm frame.
Looking at the stunning piece of Haute Horology, it’s hard not to gawk at the level of ingenuity on display. Arriving in a 40mm sandblasted titanium case with integrated bracelet, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra continues the Italian luxury house’s contemporary design language in true industrial fashion. Landing somewhere between militant and sophisticated, the new release features three sub-dials, highlighted with visible gears and cogs to offset the bold nature of the silhouette. In another reference to past models, the seconds display on the wheel at 6 o’clock is off-centred in relation to the indication of the hours and minutes on two regulator-type counters. But for all it’s impressive craftsmanship, there’s a hidden new-age detail to this new timepiece that might roll some eyes.
Visible on the dial is a QR code that has been engraved on the barrel. When scanned, it leads owners to a bank of exclusive information that dives deep into the production, design and conceptualisation of the record-breaking watch. There is even a virtual 3-D tour of the movement and of course, each Octo Finissimo Ultra also comes with an original NFT artwork.
“The challenge of this eighth record was the most difficult to overcome, since we had to break the rules not only in terms of movement design, but also of the case, the caseback, the bracelet and the folding clasp,” Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bulgari’s product creation executive director said. “To achieve this degree of thinness, you not only have to review your way of thinking, but you must also draw upon a wide range of skills, play with multiple materials and adapt to a multitude of new constraints. In this sense, the Octo Finissimo Ultra is unquestionably the ultimate complication in this vast field of possibilities represented by ultra-miniaturisation.”
For Bulgari, unveiling a record-setting new timepiece isn’t anything out of the ordinary. The Octo Finissimo Ultra marks the eight consecutive world record for the collection, which now boast more than 60 international awards. Inside, or in-built rather, it’s the BVL Caliber 180 movement that makes it all shine. Integrated into the caseback, the 170-component movement offers 50 hours of power reserve and measures just 1.50mm in height.
As Stigliani rightly points out, making a mechanical watch on a minuscule scale does represent some challenges, namely in space. Take the crown for example. As a traditional vertical crown would be too finicky to maneauvre, Bulgari introduced horizontal knobs for winging and setting, alongside the eight patents pending for integrations such as glass assembly, barrel structure and oscillator module.
Needeless to say, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra is marvel of modern craftsmanship, and it has a price to match. Limited to just 10 pieces worldwide, the record-breaking timepiece is priced at a whopping €400,000 (AUD$595,000).