Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Bvlgari Celebrates 10th Anniversary of the Octo Finissimo Watch

We take a look at how Bvlgari went about creating the world’s thinnest watches.

Jun 29, 2022 | By Ashok Soman
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo full range
Image: Bvlgari

Watchmakers present their credentials in a few ways, and accolades are just one. Some display observatory awards denoting a legacy of accuracy. Still others summon up an array of patents reflecting the spirit of innovation and creativity marking their manufactures. A lucky few get to demonstrate both with hundreds of years of history. Bvlgari decided to create its own legacy, and to do it in a way that no other brand had done. The result today is the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Ultra, the world’s thinnest mechanical watch at 1.80 mm thick, caseback to sapphire crystal top. Such a watch does not appear overnight though…

In 2012, Bvlgari built the foundation for this monumental achievement with the Octo L’Originale, and delivered the ground floor in 2014 with the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Manual. This tourbillon wristwatch boasted the thinnest manual-winding flying tourbillon movement in the world at just 1.95 mm thick. What set the brand apart was that it set out to break its own record — and establish new standards that surpassed all that had gone before. Of course, Bvlgari was in that healthiest and most inspirational adventure — to do something only it could do, and then top itself.

Image: Bvlgari

Bvlgari’s horological adventure since 2012 can be summed with a few numbers: ten years, eight world records, more than 60 international awards, and eight patents. And the Octo Finissimo story is far from over, having now entered a new dimension, as Bvlgari puts it. Coincidentally, the Octo obviously shares key characteristics with these numbers, being eight-sided and having plenty of distinguishing aesthetic features along the same lines, including the inner flange of the watch.

While the numbers are impressive, symbolically and otherwise, they serve only as shorthand. The story of the Octo Finissimmo is filled with character and passion — it takes courage to commit to a single course in watchmaking. Having created the world’s thinnest mechanical automatic watch movement in 2017 with the Octo Finissimo Automatic, Bvlgari wanted to push it even further. Think of it as a sprinter trying to shave fractions of a second from his or her own record.

“Can we do it? No sooner was the question asked three years ago than our teams answered: how are we going to do it?” said Antoine Pin, Managing Director of the Bvlgari Watch Division, as he recalls the development process of the Octo Finissimo Ultra. “This ability to meet challenges is embedded in the brand’s DNA. As for the word ‘ultra’, it expresses this desire to go beyond the limits, to play with extremes, an idea that we love in-house!”

Image: Bvlgari

Making a watch that is 1.80 mm thick — a measure close to the thickness of paper, and certainly thinner than all existing mechanical calibres — requires more than mastering the techniques of miniaturisation according to Bvlgari Product Creation Executive Director Fabrizio Bounamassa Stigliani. For a little context here, the Ultra watch is slimmer than all the record-breaking Bvlgari ultra-thin movements.

“To achieve this degree of thinness, you not only have to challenge your way of thinking, but at the same time draw upon a wide range of skills, play with multiple materials and adapt to a multitude of new constraints. In this sense, the Octo Finissimo Ultra is unquestionably the ultimate complication in this vast field of possibilities represented by ultra-miniaturization,” said Stigliani.

Understandably, the arrival of the Ultra this year was greeted with great fanfare, with an international debut at the Pantheon at the Piazza della Rotonda, Rome. Once again, numbers played a key role, the number “8” in particular. This makes the Pantheon the perfect setting for a celebration of the Bvlgari Octo, thanks to the configuration of the Roman landmark’s Corinthian columns (eight in the first position, followed by two groups of four behind). As a quick aside, an exhibition on the octagon shape, which is deeply important to Bvlgari, is ongoing at the brand’s historic boutique on Via Dei Condotti. Returning to the recent festivities, the facade of the Pantheon served as a natural screen for an ambitious and unprecedented art project, put together at the behest of Bvlgari for the occasion of the 10th anniversary.

Jean-Christophe Babin attends Bulgari Octo Finissimo on March 21, 2022 in Rome, Italy
Image: Bvlgari

The screening of Temple of Light_Ultra at Pantheon bookended the festivities, and consisted of the entire history of Italian architecture and art, rendered in digital form, and given substance by light. The artwork itself was a real time execution by Istanbul-based Ouchhh, a creative multidisciplinary hub, curated by Reasoned Art. This thematic link between the past and the future, between tradition and innovation, is di rigore for watchmaking, with Bvlgari in the vanguard of pushing boundaries.

No celebration can do without music, and this was supplied by a live performance of the orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, which added the necessary human element. Of course, the connections with the number eight continued. On stage, the 8 + 8 Percussion Ensemble of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia — Alta Formazione led by Edoardo Giachino gave a breathtaking concert notably demonstrating exceptional percussion mastery.

A general view at Bulgari Octo Finissimo on March 21, 2022 in Rome, Italy
Image: Bvlgari

Once again, there was a visual component enabled by machine learning and artificial intelligence, linked directly with the performance; viscerally linked, in fact. The brain waves of the conductor served to create the visuals, thanks to data collected live from an EEG headset worn by the conductor. The Pantheon once more functioned as the screen (as seen above).

“This fabulous landmark that we are setting today with the Octo Finissimo Ultra is in fact — for me and all the teams – the fulfilment of a dream. One which now guarantees that Bvlgari will forever be acknowledged as having written some of the finest chapters in Swiss watchmaking. And the fact that the Maison is Italian makes us particularly proud”, said Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO Bvlgari.

Here is a timeline of the Octo Finissimo series:

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