A slab of concrete and a Bulgari timepiece may not seem like a natural fit, but the unlikely mixture has resulted in a spectacular horological design. And it’s all thanks to Tadao Ando.
The acclaimed Japanese architect has partnered with Bulgari’s director of watch design Fabrizio Bonamassa Stigliani to reimagine the label’s beloved Octo Finissimo timepiece, pulling inspiration from the gritty, gray construction material—which the architect has entirely redefined.
First introduced back in 2017, the Finissimo Automatic is the world’s thinnest automatic watch and boasts a sleek, modernist form. Building on that impressive original model, Ando’s riff sees a bold geometric design paired with an eye-catching spiral motif that covers the entire 1.5-inch dial and emulates the concentric circles found in Japanese Zen gardens.
Turn it over and the back of the timepiece is just as impressive: The complex inner workings are visible through a clear sapphire caseback, which means Bulgari’s ultra-thin self-winding mechanical movement with platinum micro-rotor can be fully appreciated by the wearer. Ando’s signature is also emblazoned on the back because, well, he deserves the credit.
The limited-edition design features a titanium bracelet and case which renders it lightweight, robust and stylish. But if titanium is not your jam, last month, Bulgari released the Octo Finissimo model in steel and sandblast-polished ceramic which cost $12,000 and $15,600, respectively. Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin told Robb Report the ceramic model is 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.”
Of course, these steel and ceramic models don’t have the Tadao touch or such a solid muse.
The Tadao Ando x Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic watch is limited to just 200 pieces and priced at $18,266 (¥1,980,000). Watch collectors will find it on the label’s Japanese website.