When it comes to items that make for a show-stopping holiday gift, none are quite as perfect as a wristwatch. It’s functional, beautiful, thoughtful, and timeless. Anyone – from the toughest to please to the person who has everything – can appreciate a timepiece. Yet, for that truly special someone, not just any watch will do. Whether shopping for that collector with an expansive range of watches or that person who really appreciates a wow-factor, you need more than your average timepiece. You need something exceptional, and when it comes to exceptional watchmaking in the 21st century, no one has set the bar quite as high as BVLGARI.
BVLGARI began as a jewelry business in the late 19th century, and it wouldn’t be until the late 20th century that it would begin making waves in the world of watchmaking. The brand’s first timepiece came in 1977 with the now-iconic BVLGARI BVLGARI, designed by the legendary Gérald Genta. In the years to follow, BVLGARI would go on to solidify its place beyond the watch world and in pop culture on the wrist of Al Pacino in the critically acclaimed 1995 film Heat.
In just over four decades of watchmaking, the horological achievements BVLGARI has notched are pretty remarkable, and the watch community has taken notice. The brand lays claim to the world’s thinnest tourbillon movement, minute repeater, chronograph, and automatic watch. In the past two years alone, BVLGARI has received accolades at the prestigious GPHG awards for the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT in the chronograph category and the Aluminium Chronograph for the iconic watch prize. Beyond the industry at large, you can find BVLGARI watches on the wrists of some of the most seasoned and serious collectors around the world, collectors who have a keen eye for models that defy trends and offer the highest level of craftsmanship. If you’re looking for that extraordinary gift for the watch lover in your life, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more enticing or influential timepiece than one of BVLGARI’s latest offerings.
The Octo Finissimo Automatic
The Octo Finissimo Automatic is more than just an aesthetic update for BVLGARI’s ultra-thin flagship model. It’s the first watch in the Octo Finissimo line to offer water-resistance up to 100 meters. They achieve this by the addition of a screw-down crown, which is a first for the collection. The case of the new Octo Finissimo Automatic is the same diameter as its predecessors at 40mm, but there’s a slight increase in thickness – only by a little over a single millimeter, from 5.15mm in the original Octo Finissimo Automatic to just 6.4mm in the Satin-Polished Steel variant – an increase that’s just about the same thickness as a credit card. The gradient finish of the black dial juxtaposes nicely with the rest of the steel case as well as the silver-tone hands and hour markers. In addition, the dial shares the same layout with the previous Octo Finissimo Automatic models. That means stylized Arabic numerals at six and 12 o’clock, with polished and rhodium-plated markers for the rest of the hours. An open small seconds display is located near seven o’clock, and all three hands are polished and faceted.
The BVL 138 movement at the heart of the new Octo Finissimo Automatic is the same ultra-thin caliber found in each iteration of the watch. A record-breaker upon its 2017 debut, the BVL 138 has a remarkable 2.2mm height and 36.6mm diameter. Though the watch is steel on the outside, the micro-rotor that powers the Octo Finissimo Automatic is made from a solid block of platinum, winds bi-directionally, and offers an impressive 60-hour power reserve. The BVL 138 alleviates any concern of fragility through the presence of a full balance bridge, which increases the stability of the balance and enhances the watch’s overall impact resistance. Other elements that help in this regard include Kif shock absorption and a larger-than-usual escape wheel bridge. This is a high-performance movement executed at the highest level.
The Aluminium Chronograph
The BVLGARI Aluminium collection pays tribute to a watch first released by the brand in 1998 that integrated classic BVLGARI design elements with an aluminum case, rubber strap, and quartz movement. While these experimental materials have become increasingly commonplace in more recent years, presenting a non-precious metal watch on a rubber strap was still pretty revolutionary in the luxury watch space in the 1990s. This enduring design remains a centerpiece within both the watch community and the BVLGARI brand over 20 years later, as acknowledged by the GPHG’s award for the iconic watch prize.
The BVLGARI Aluminium Chronograph has a round 40mm case made of lightweight aluminum paired with a titanium caseback along with a rubber bezel and strap. This incredibly unique combination of metals and materials carries over from the brand’s original watches. The rubber bezel has the incised, double “BVLGARI” branding that has characterized the look of countless BVLGARI watches since the 1970s, like the original BVLGARI BVLGARI. In addition, the aluminum material is cool to the touch and light on the wrist, and its execution here is matte and modest.
The caseback is made of equally lightweight titanium, and it, along with the crown and chronograph pushers, have undergone a DLC treatment. The rubber strap integrates directly into the redesigned chassis of the lugs, and two aluminum links are incorporated into both sides of the strap to help the watch better articulate around the wrist. An ardillon buckle, also made of aluminum, ensures a comfortable fit. This chronograph retains visual symmetry on its off-white dial, which features three rounded sub-dials with radial numerals that complement the surrounding BVLGARI verbiage on the rubber bezel. Black accents on the sub-dials, hands, and hour markers/numerals help the dial information stand out, while a white date aperture is tucked cleanly at the 4:30 position. The BVLGARI Aluminium Chronograph is powered by an automatic movement and tested to 100 meters of water resistance, more than enough for daily wear.
The Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT
The Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT is the world’s thinnest chronograph caliber, regardless of automatic or manual winding. It features a titanium case that’s completely matte, with no polished or shiny surfaces. The overall greyness of the titanium offers a versatile look that complements the sculptural form of the Octo Finissimo’s case, which is full of step-like facets, straight lines, and layered angles that seamlessly transition across the bezel and on top of the lugs. This is partly where the Octo name comes from, as the interior flange of the watch surrounding the dial is defined by its eight sides. Despite a wafer-like thinness and low-key profile, the Octo Finissimo features a three-dimensional wearing experience thanks to the countless number of facets spread out across the case, bezel, and lugs. In addition, the titanium crown features a black ceramic cabochon.
The watch comes paired with the Octo Finissimo bracelet in matching sandblasted titanium. Designed to seamlessly integrate into the unique case construction, the bracelet stretches almost the entire width of the case at its point of connection before gradually tapering until it reaches the folding clasp. BVLGARI specifically engineered this unique clasp to fold neatly into the back of the links in an effort to reduce the total thickness on the wrist. Inside the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT, you’ll find the same BVL 138 caliber housed in the Octo Finissimo Automatic.
Explore The BVLGARI Collection In The HODINKEE Shop
Between the time-only Octo Finissimo Automatic, Aluminium Chronograph, and Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT, there’s a watch for any type of collector in your life. No matter which model best resonates and appeals to you, you know you’re getting one of the most elevated and proficient watches on the market. The sheer attention to aesthetic detail and the significance in the history of watchmaking speak for themselves with all of these models. To explore each of these watches in full and make one your own this season, head over to the HODINKEE Shop now.