The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic. Best of Show.
If you think that Baselworld 2019 was boring, take a look at what Bulgari came up with instead. The 2019 edition will be long remembered not as the most exciting one so far, but instead as a changeover between old and new formula, according to an official press release from the fair's executive management. Nonetheless, Bulgari has once again shocked the community by breaking another record in watchmaking and placing itself as a leading brand in innovation, in a scenario where most peers are short on ideas and new products.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic is the fifth record in a row the brand has set with its Octo Finissimo. Babin, Terreni, and Buonamassa (CEO, Watchmaking and Creative Director, respectively) are the dream team behind a record-breaking collection of watches, whose main pillars are the following: an extremely slim case, superior comfort, unmistakable style. The new Octo Chronograph adds yet another record to a collection that includes already the Octo Finissimo Automatic (crafted in titanium, steel or rose gold), a flying tourbillon, a skeleton tourbillon, and a minute repeater.
A new ceramic made Octo Finissimo has made its way into the collection too, in 2019. With the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic, Bulgari aims at bridging the gap between entry-level and high-end Finissimo watches in our opinion, thus offering a new take on the Octo watch. Bulgari's designers have packed an integrated column-wheel chronograph into a 3.30mm mechanical movement, the caliber BVL 318, capable of running for 55 hours when fully wound and allowing the case thickness to stop at just 6.90mm, making this new Octo the world's thinnest GMT chronograph.
The idea to include a GMT function was a smart one: it makes the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic a globetrotter-ready piece; a button inserted at nine o'clock allows to change the hour hand quickly if you're traveling east. It is simple and easy to operate.
The design of this and the two Chrono push-buttons is pretty refined and, if we exclude the three register dial's layout, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic reminds a three-hands Finissimo Automatic at first sight. The squared, CNC-machined shape allows the three buttons to look stylistically integrated and virtually hidden.
Much attention to details was put in the design of the mechanical movement, that aims at providing performance along with pleasing aesthetics. To guarantee a thickness of just 3.30mm, engineers opted for a peripheral winding rotor, the most sophisticated technical solution when it comes to automatic watches. Although driven by functional requirements, it has the advantage of making an automatic watch look like a hand-wound one.
Moreover, as I highlighted already in the previous posts regarding my personal experience with a Finissimo, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic confirms how lovely it is to wrap an Octo around the wrist. It indeed is the most comfortable sports luxury watch out there, a timepiece that'll never pinch your wrist and something you hardly perceive, once worn. Also, it makes all the other classic sports watches in the benchmark look as they all belong to the Stone Age.
Graceful, mechanically refined, and versatile, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic is close to perfection, yet it still lacks that touch of premium "look and feel" that you always expect in this luxury segment. It has a unique sporty appearance and excellent build quality, and a design that seems to be drawing inspiration from the concept cars conceived by Italian designer Marcello Gandini. Take a look at an Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo for example; however, my suggestion is to keep improving a few details like bridges and gears decoration; its avant-garde and seventies looking personality are unmistakable yet still a bit aseptic, at times.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Peter Tung)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®