The watch industry is back on the clock today at the grand opening of Geneva Watch Days. The show, a gathering of 40 luxury brands at various hotels, workshops and boutiques around the city, plus a Pavillion at Rotonde du Mont-Blanc, is open through September 1. It’s a rare opportunity for the public to attend watch launches ahead of the trade, including Bulgari’s blockbuster debut of 10 new men’s watches today.
There are four new pieces in the famously ultra-thin Octo Finissimo collection in celebration of the line’s tenth anniversary. Four come in 18-karat gold with gold/brown dials, a sporty dress look that Bulgari aptly refers to as “subtly ostentatious.” There are three 18-karat rose gold models: Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic, the world’s thinnest chronograph at 6.9 mm thick ($35,800); the likewise ultra-thin, 5.95 mm-thick Octo Finissimo Skeleton 8 Days with a new openworked movement that sports anthracite PVD bridges ($37,300); and the Octo Finissimo Automatic, introduced last year with a sandblasted rose gold case and dial ($44,800). There is also a special yellow gold edition of the Automatic ($45,500). The new models demonstrate, yet again, how much finish and color variations can totally change the look of a watch.
A single steel Octo Finissimo stands out in this sea of gold. The “Sejima” Edition ($14,100) is a collaboration with Kazuyo Sejima, Japan’s star architect and winner of the 2010 Pritzker Prize. The 360-piece edition is steel with a mirror-effect dial highlighted by a dot pattern that reflects Sejima’s signature aesthetic. The mirror finish is carried over to the high-polish case and bracelet and the artist’s signature is featured on the sapphire crystal caseback. The ultra-cool model will, no doubt, be the collector darling as were previous iterations of the Octo Finissimo with Japanese architect, Tadao Andao.
The more affordable Bulgari Bulgari collection makes an appearance among the GWD debuts with a black-on-black model that is pure chic minimalist. The case and bracelet are made of DLC-treated steel, matched to a black lacquer dial with white numerals and hands. The bezel is engraved with the model’s signature Bulgari logo. There are two versions: a 33 mm with a quartz movement ($3,750) and a 41 mm with automatic caliber 191 ($5,100).
The black theme continues on three new Aluminium pieces, with the addition of colors that create sportier overtones. The Aluminium (the European spelling of aluminum) was first launched in 1998, and hails from the days when sports watches were everything and new materials were being combined for the first time in luxury watches. The aluminum case and titanium caseback with DLC coating, along with the rubber and aluminum strap, follow through from the original design. There are three themed editions (limited to 1,000 each) which are color-coded according to their automotive inspiration. The red and black dial on the Ducati version echoes the hues of the famous Italian motorbikes. The Amerigo Vespucci edition carries the black, white and yellow gold colors of the legendary exploration vessel, and because its theme is travel and exploration, it has a GMT function for a second time zone. The third piece is another collaboration with Japanese artist Sorayama, with a perlage-treated silver dial inspired by the bodies of flying and driving machines of the 1930s and 1940s. The only numeral visible is the 2, thereby honoring the artist’s lucky number. It’s not quite as dreamy as the Octo Finissimo, but with the Aluminium watches retailing for $3,400 each, it’s certainly more affordable.