Eight world records for thinness in eight years. That’s the CV that Bulgari has achieved over the best part of the last decade with the announcement today of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra, which measures an incredible 1.8mm from front to back. If that’s a difficult number to visualise, just imagine a pair of credit cards on top of one another.
Bulgari’s history of breaking records is beginning to sound like exactly that: a broken record. Especially as much of the watch industry has become infatuated with different coloured dials over the last 18 months, it’s always a moment of excitement and intrigue when Bulgari releases yet another timepiece that pushes the boundaries of what is possible. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra is no different, and is arguably the most compelling record broken since the original Octo Finissimo.
With a case profile that measures less than 2mm, its diameter remains very wearable at 40mm. Likewise, for such a thin and technically complex watch to create, it remains very easy to read the time via a pair of subdials, one for the hours and the other for the minutes.
The majority of the case is executed in titanium, much like the rest of the Octo Finissimo collection, with the exception of the caseback which is tungsten carbide. Why use a different material for the caseback? Because of how thin the watch is, the tungsten carbide caseback is also the mainplate (or foundation piece) of the movement.
In normal watches, the caseback and mainplate are separate pieces to insulate the movement from the case, so as to protect it from the daily bumps on doorknobs or staircase banisters. Because the tungsten carbide caseback has to serve two roles, Bulgari has ingeniously created what they are calling an “escapement bridge,” protecting the main moving parts of the movement (the balance wheel and escape wheel) with a slightly flexible bridge that both supports and insulates it. Once again Bulgari is showing that just because their origins are as a high jewellery house, they still have some of the most technically sophisticated watchmaking expertise on the planet.
Back the dial side of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra, and one of the most visually dominating elements of the dial is the laser-engraved QR code on the mainspring housing, which boasts a spring that can still offer 60 hours of power reserve despite its thinness. The QR code will take you to your very own NFT artwork that Bulgari is offering as a part of the ownership of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra, as well as a video about the functions of the timepiece.
You might have noticed by this point that the watch doesn’t have a traditional crown, as a typical winding crown mechanism is far too thick to achieve Bulgari’s thinness goal. Instead, it has a pair of horizontal gear-like crowns, with the one at 8 o’clock for winding the watch, while the 3 o’clock one is for setting the time. Despite these unusual crowns, Bulgari has still managed to guarantee the watch to 100m of water resistance.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra arrives on an angular titanium bracelet that is very much in line with the rest of the Oct Finissimo collection in terms of its design, but is half as thick as a standard Octo Finissimo bracelet, also measuring 1.8mm thick. Secured with a folding clasp, it’s the thinnest integrated bracelet ever produced.
Once again, Bulgari has done it, besting the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch from 2018 by a slim 0.2mm. In many ways, it’s a watch that represents much of what is so exciting about watch enthusiasm in 2022, as a genuinely innovative, ambitious and cleverly executed timepiece that doesn’t look like it was designed in the 1950s. After eight years of record-breaking success, there’s only one question on our minds: what will Bulgari do for its ninth?
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra will be limited to just 10 pieces worldwide, with an RRP of €400,000 (~AU$595,706).