Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Bvlgari Puts Its Name Atop In Ultra-Thin Watchmaking

With the Octo Finissimo Ultra, Bulgari has written the final chapter in ultra-thin watchmaking. It may even be the last word.

Jun 06, 2022 | By Ashok Soman
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo
Image: Bvlgari

With a profile of 1.80 mm, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra is now the world’s thinnest mechanical watch of any kind. We have a special report on the 10-year saga behind this watch coming up, but suffice it to say that the thickness of this watch — the word thick itself seems out of place here — is comfortably less than any mechanical movement. Once again, the Octo Finissimo Ultra watch itself is thinner than any movement. Bulgari itself says the watch is about as thick as some kinds of sketching paper. If that sounds mental to you, you are not alone because at this level of slimness, the mechanical resilience of the watch comes into question.

Bvlgari Ultra Thin
Image: Bvlgari

Of course, Bulgari was well aware of the potential for the watch to get literally bent out of shape. The watchmakers got around this by using a tungsten carbide caseback, which is actually also the main plate of the BVL 180 calibre. Having examined a prototype in person recently, I can report that the watch does not feel in any way fragile or malleable. The mind certainly reels from experiencing something like the Ultra, which feels like an impossible object, and not just because only 10 will be made. For watch enthusiasts, this shock factor begins with the crown, which is absent…

Bvlgari Ultra Thin
Image: Bvlgari

To begin with though, while this watch is a phenomenal achievement and a major contribution to advancing the art of watchmaking as well as the culture of the same, the appeal of the Ultra rests on its unique aesthetic elements, one of which is the QR code etched into the ratchet wheel. We get into the details about that in the special report on the Octo Finissimo but it should be noted that this is yet another first for traditional watchmaking. No other fine timepiece is linked to a piece of digital technology in this way — for that matter, with regards to smart contracts and NFTs, we know of no other watchmaker of any kind that has advanced this far.

Bvlgari Ultra Thin
Image: Bvlgari

The QR code is not the only special touch here. Most significantly, the dimensions of the watch mean that there is no crown, as mentioned. Indeed, the requirements of getting the movement down to 1.50 mm meant that the entire winding stem and keyless works had to be reworked. So instead of a crown, there are two steel wheels (one at 3 o’clock to set the time, and another at 8 o’clock to wind the movement). This amazing solution (allowing the movement to feature only horizontally turning gears) means one interacts directly with the movement. Water-resistance here is, somehow, 10 metres, which is surprising in itself because we assumed it would not be water-resistant at all. The movement is, after all, completely exposed here. 

Movement Manual-winding ultra-thin BVL calibre 180; 50-hour power reserve

Case 40mm in titanium and tungsten carbide; water-resistant to 10m

Strap Titanium bracelet

Price On application (limited to 10 pieces)

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