Steel, steel, steel—the material of the moment shows no sign of waning. More and more brands are rolling out steel sports watches on a bracelet and at LVMH Watch Week in Dubai every brand—Bulgari, Hublot and Zenith (with the exception of Tag Heuer, which already makes it bread and butter on bracelet watches)—introduced a steel bracelet to a pillar model. Bulgari updated its famed Octo Finissimo model, known for its sleek and ultra-thin modern design, in steel and it was, by far, the most talked-about watch of the show. It also came in a new sandblast-polished ceramic version.
Some will undoubtedly be turned off by the shiny luster of Bulgari’s steel but it does make the angles of the watch pop. But there may be a design on a new audience. The watchmaker has found that, despite its size, the Octo Finissimo is appealing to both men and women—they even have a new campaign to market it to ladies. So perhaps the brand had that in mind when creating a shinier finish for its satin-steel case and bracelet. But Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin says it’s the sandblast-polished ceramic model ($15,600) that’s meant to catch the eye of more women.
“We are adding to the matte ceramic, the polished ceramic, which is more unisex watch than the matte ceramic, which is more masculine,” Babin told Robb Report. “I won’t pretend that the Octo should become a lady’s watch. It should remain a men’s watch, like Serpenti is a lady’s watch. But, for sure, there is bridging between men and women, and we see it in a lot of other categories. The ceramic treatment is still wearable for the man, but more feminine than the pretty rough matte ceramic version that we have already.”
At 40 mm x 5.25 mm, it wears very large on a woman’s wrist and that’s just how many women like it these days. For this reporter’s wrist, it wore just a tad too large. When asked if Bulgari had any plans to make a smaller version of the Octo Finissimo, Babin didn’t rule it out. “We are demonstrating that we are mastering the micro-movements, whether it’s in thinness or in diameter,” said Babin “Probably with the knowledge that we have developed and accumulated, we might imagine to have a smaller diameter Finissimo, which would fit in better with ladies.” Another debut at LVMH Dubai Watch Week was an exceptional new Serpenti Sedduttori which, according to Bulgari, contains the world’s smallest tourbillon.
But whether you’re male or female, the steel version of the Octo Finissimo should appeal in price in comparison to other integrated steel bracelet watches on the market. At $12,000, it’s very well-positioned to steal the spotlight. Chopard’s 41 mm Alpine Eagle new steel bracelet watch is CHF 12,500 (approximately $13,000 at current exchange), while A. Lange & Söhne’s first steel bracelet watch, The Odysseus, comes in at $28,800 for comparison.
A satin-polished rose gold model on a black alligator strap ($22,700) and a sandblasted rose gold minute repeater on a brown alligator strap ($170,000) were also new additions to the range.