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How Bulgari’s Latest Watch Set a New Record for the World’s Thinnest Tourbillon Chronograph

The automatic skeleton watch is the thinnest watch combining a tourbillon and chronograph on the market.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic Courtesy of Bulgari

Bulgari landed a dazzling combination in its latest reveal for 2020, launched on Wednesday at Geneva Watch Days in Switzerland, by pairing a one-two punch of high complications within wafer-thin proportions. The Italian jeweler has been slimming down its timepieces since 2014. To date, it has achieved six world records with its unconventional Octo Finissimo line, including the thinnest tourbillon watch—the 1.95 mm caliber of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, which debuted in 2018—and the thinnest chronograph GMT model on the market, the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic, unveiled last year. Now, Bulgari has combined those two complications into a single watch: the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic, the thinnest tourbillon chronograph ever made.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic

The incredibly thin timepiece operates on a new BVL 388 movement.  Courtesy of Bulgari

In a Zoom conference held Wednesday, Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin said the goal of the Octo Finissimo was not to be a world-record-setting saga. Although he admits it’s an added advantage, its main aim was to be an elegant accessory that would offer something in the luxury watch arena that felt truly contemporary. Mission accomplished: The Octo Finissimo looks unlike anything else on the market and is as much a feat of design as it is technical prowess.

The latest model, combining tourbillon and chronograph functions into pancake-thin proportions, was hardly as easy as putting two existing ultra-thin functions into one new movement. While the new BVL 388 movement is based on the BVL 288 of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, the caliber had to be designed almost entirely from scratch to fit the two complications together. It took two years of technical development—including incorporating a horizontal clutch instead of a vertical model, and a column wheel (rather than cams) for the chronograph activation—to achieve both a slimmer design and a smoother operation. To incorporate with the chronograph, the new caliber had to use a traditional tourbillon—instead of the flying version found on its predecessor—guided by a pair of bridges rather than a ball-bearing system.

Chronographs normally add major bulk to a movement, but Bulgari’s clocks in at an incredible 1.55 mm. Combined with the tourbillon and the automatic winding system from the BVL 288, the new movement measures just 3.5 mm. But reducing it to bare bones wasn’t enough: The watch (of which only 50 are available) also comes skeletonized in an ultra-light, sandblasted titanium case.

VITALS

Price: $142,000

Case Thickness: 7.4 mm

Thinner Than: The iPhone 11

Movement Thickness: 3.5 mm

Case Diameter: 42 mm

Power Reserve: 52 Hours

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