“The power of Italian style” is the strapline of Bvlgari’s Octo assortment of watches for men. And anyone who has slipped an Octo on to their wrist will agree that these watches emit a feeling of power that some self-respecting Roman Emperor would have been pleased to wield.
Bvlgari’s watch arrived on the scene with a bang in 2012 thanks to its unusual silhouette of a circle within a square. The octagonal shape was motivated by the vaulting of the ceiling in the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum, but that’s just half of this story. The genius of the design is how the rigorous symmetry of Roman aesthetics has been transformed into a modern icon. Lightening the load of its historical heritage, the eight corners of the instance have been shorn off and each line reduced to a minimum. As Fabrizio Buonamassa, Artistic Director in Bvlgari, sketched and modelled away, a refined type with 110 facets emerged. Every angle, corner and airplane of its architecture was meticulously honed to near-sculptural perfection.
However, the narrative of the Octo is not just one of handsome profiles and elegant angles. This view has great bone structure and the brains to match. The Octo has broken world records for the thinnest manual-winding tourbillon, minute repeater, automatic motion and automatic tourbillon. This year , two of the Octo models were finalists from the GPHG, the Oscars of the watchmaking world, as well as picking up 35 distinct awards around the world for both design and horological mastery — no mean accomplishment for a company which, for the best part of its 135-year history, has been known for its extravagant stones.
The most astounding Octo is that the Grande Sonnerie Quantième Perpétuel (previously ), which took a year to make and is Bvlgari’s most complicated watch production to date. As its highly descriptive name implies, it combines a grand striking mechanism, which chimes both hours and minutes with four miniature hammers, along with a perpetual calendar of Machiavellian sophistication that indicates the date, day, month and year along with the phase of the moon. The mechanism is regulated by a tourbillon — the final cherry on top of this grande complication, of which only one will probably be made.
For those who have classical watches inclinations, Bvlgari’s Octo Monete (above) lets them read the time by turning open a case insure set with an ancient Roman coin of the emperor Constantinus Augustus. The dial provides a view to the skeletonised workings of its mechanisms and also the constant whirring of its tourbillon. Baguette-cut diamonds, regarded as the most manly of sparklers, adorn the rose gold case and, what’s more, the opinion can be worn both on the wrist or transformed into a pocket watch on a handsome gold chain.
Thanks to Bvlgari’s own production centre in Switzerland, it is able to combine its Italian design bravado with horological excellence. When the Octo becomes finissimo — or ultra-thin — it manages to maintain a commanding presence, despite its reduced substance. Having accumulated numerous prestigious horological prizes and layout accolades galore, this season Bvlgari turns its focus to substances. Like the Romans who chose pure and enduring marble because of their monuments, Bvlgari has sought out renowned substances for its watches, including lightweight titanium.