Men’s Timepieces of the year: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Collection
Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani leans back slightly in his chair and grins, his satisfaction just evident behind his reddish beard. “We know what we have,” says the director of Bulgari’s Watches Design Center, referring to what is probably the rarest commodity in the watch industry: a design strong enough to make even jaded watch collectors take notice and one upon which the brand can trade for years or even decades to come.
Bulgari released no fewer than five references of the Octo Finissimo so far this year, each brimming with different measures of bravado and technical fortitude. The headliner of these latest models, which first debuted in March at Baselworld, is undoubtedly the Automatic Tourbillon ($118,000), a drool-worthy, openwork beauty that is the latest salvo in the ongoing battle between Bulgari and Piaget for world records in ultrathin watchmaking.
In designing the Octo Finissimo, Buonamassa Stigliani took threads from the original Octo model, compressing its various geometric shapes into a slate-like wafer. The finely linked bracelet introduced by Bulgari last year and the sandblasted finish first seen in the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater of 2016 are now essential elements. The combination is at its height in the newest automatic models, which are available in pink gold, rhodium-plated steel, and sandblasted titanium (prices upon request). So well integrated are the case, dial, and bracelet that each looks as if it were stamped out of a sheet of homogeneous material.
Rounded out by a fully carbon-fiber edition of the brand’s ultrathin minute repeater—a development that markedly increases the chime’s volume—the latest Octo Finissimo timepieces seem like an entirely new breed of modern watch. Unlike so many of their Swiss counterparts, the watches’ technical qualities are second to style. The logic of the design is apparent the minute you place the texture of these pieces next to skin and fabric—the essential test for any kind of timepiece.