Introducing The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic

BaselAnnouncement.jpg

We are excited for Benoit's announcement of the record breaking new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic - the world’s thinnest watch at 3.95MM and breaking three world's records!

Watch the video here from the recent announcement at Baselworld 2018.

Quick Take

You're looking at a watch that simultaneously breaks three world's records. It's the world's thinnest automatic watch, it's the world's thinnest automatic tourbillon, and it's the world's thinnest tourbillon, period. One of these records was until now held by Bulgari itself, one was established by Audemars Piguet in 1986, and the other was established by Piaget at the 2017 SIHH; all three records are now held by a single watch, which moreover is not a prototype or concept watch – it will be available as a regular production model.

hero.jpg

Initial Thoughts

I have to admit that this was a somewhat unexpected development, to put it mildly. A watch this thin is obviously a tremendous technical achievement, and all the more so because this isn't a one-off; instead, it is intended to be worn and to stand up to the rigors of daily use. It's often little appreciated just what a gap there is between showing a kinda-sorta-working prototype and a fully homologated, street-ready wristwatch but it's a big one, and bigger still when you're talking about complicated watches. The new Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic is powered by the new caliber BVL 288, a self-winding flying tourbillon movement only 1.95mm thick – and the entire watch is a mere 3.95mm thick overall, which would sound absurd if it weren't also perfectly true.

P3210920.jpg

Bulgari, in this case, had a solid starting point: their Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, and its 1.95mm thick caliber BVL 268. That watch set a new record for ultra-thin tourbillons in 2014, which went unchallenged until now; the hand-wound Octo Finissimo tourbillon is, overall, just 5mm thick. This is considerably thinner than any other tourbillon in production today – the previous record holder was the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Thin Automatic 5377, which is 7mm thick overall, and which uses a peripheral rotor.

The record for thinnest self-winding watch was formerly held by the Piaget Altiplano Automatic with caliber 910P, which came out in 2017. The entire watch is just 4.30mm thick, and uses the back of the watch case itself as the movement baseplate. This is the same engineering solution that was first used in 1986 by Audemars Piguet, for its reference 25643BA, which similarly used the case back for the automatic caliber 2870. Of course, Bvlgari still held the record for the thinnest self-winding watch with a conventional movement – the Octo Finissimo Automatique, from 2017, which is 5.15mm thick, with the 2.23mm thick BVL 138.  This is a micro-rotor caliber; the record for thinnest full-rotor automatic is still held to this day by the Audemars Piguet caliber 2120, at 2.45mm.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo caliber BVL 288, front, with ball-bearing supported flying tourbillon. The pusher at 4:00 is part of a safety system that allows you to use the crown for setting the time; this is necessary because the movement is so flat that the stem lies in the same plane as the peripheral rotor.

The reference 25643BA from AP is a remarkable achievement. Back in 1986, its design was revolutionary (and in an interesting twist, actually borrowed from an ultra-thin quartz watch). It was overall just 4.8mm thick. It used a hammer winding system; the hammer swung through an arc, rather than a full circle. This record – for the thinnest automatic tourbillon ever (it was also the first automatic tourbillon, by the way) was unbroken until now – an amazing run of 32 years.

So what we've got here is the world's thinnest automatic tourbillon, thinnest tourbillon of any kind, and thinnest automatic wristwatch of any kind. And this time, there are no caveats of the "in current production" variety – in every category, this is the thinnest watch of that category ever made. 

The caseback aperture reflects the doorway of the Bulgari Via Condotti boutique in Rome. A fully transparent caseback would have been fantastic, but would not have been consistent with producing a sufficiently rigid case.

Now, this naturally raises the question of what records remain to be broken. Well, the thinnest watch with a conventionally designed movement, for one; that's still held by Jaeger-LeCoultre, and the 3.6mm thick overall Master Ultra Thin Squelette. The record for thinnest full rotor automatic still stands, and has since 1967: the AP caliber 2120, at 2.45mm thick. And the record for thinnest automatic movement, and thinnest hand wound movement, to ever go into regular production is still held by the Jean Lasalle calibers 1200 (hand wound, 1.2mm) and calibers 2000 (micro-rotor, 2.0mm). About the latter, there are reservations one could express; they were notoriously unreliable and "servicing" in the case of those movements was more or less synonymous with "discarding for a new one." However, technically, their records still stand. And the thinnest mechanical watch ever? That record is still held by the Piaget Ultimate Concept– though again, that is not a piece for sale, but rather, a concept watch.

The caliber BVL 288 shares a lot of the construction of the original caliber BVL 268 but clearly, there is a lot more to what we have here than just the addition of an automatic winding system. We'll be getting much more deeply into the technical side of the differences between the two calibers and the two watches, but for now there's no doubt that on a lot of levels, there's a new sheriff in town.

The Basics

Brand: Bulgari
Model: Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic

Diameter: 42mm
Thickness: 3.95mm
Case Material: Sandblasted titanium
Dial: Skeletonized open dial
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Sandblasted titanium bracelet with triple folding clasp

The Movement

Caliber: BVL 288
Functions: Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon
Thickness: 1.95mm
Power Reserve: 55 hours
Winding: Automatic with peripheral rotor
Frequency: 3 Hz (21,600 vph)

Pricing & Availability

Price: $118,000
Availability: TBD
Limited Edition: 50 pieces

Get more information and watch the video from Baselworld 2018 here.