I understand that Bulgari is proud of the record that the new Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT has broken. Achieving the thinnest mechanical chronograph is quite a feat, and the brand should be proud of it. No doubt, if you’re reading this, you’re already aware of this fact, anyway, so this is the first and last time I’ll mention it. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT is my favorite watch from Baselworld 2019, regardless of how astoundingly thin it is.
That Bulgari has created this watch while certain competitors (and that is what they are) rely on hype and image while creating tepid new products would be funny if it weren’t so sad. The Bulgari marketing department must have had a similar thought when they debuted the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT on Instagram with the caption “Break the code.” As an added flex, they’ve added a GMT complication to the watch that is a joy to use. This watch is, indeed, a testament to how Buglari is dominating the competition.
Anyone who read my recent review of the three-hand Octo Finissimo Automatic knows my love of the ultra-thin watch collection’s design execution and finishing. While chronographs don’t typically register among even the top half of my favorite complications, Bulgari managed to add a GMT to the watch, which is likely my favorite and most useful; then, they add the thinnest mechanical chronograph and GMT in a 3.3mm0thick movement and 42mm-wide/6.9mm-thick case. The original time-only model that was released a few years ago came in at a movement measuring 2.23mm-thick with a case that is 40mm-wide/5.15mm-thick. At this point, these numbers speak for themselves, but the rapid pace with which Bulgari is developing the Octo Finissimo is pretty breathtaking.
It’s difficult to nail down the design identity of the Octo Finissimo, as it’s an architecturally inspired collage of sharp lines, inclines, curves, and steeples all coming together in harmony. It’s clear that the designers at Bulgari did not want to interrupt the Octo Finissimo case shape when adding the chronograph and GMT functions. The chronograph pushers protrude gently in a way that doesn’t betray their functionality, at a glance. When you do push them, they’re responsive but also feel solid and grounded firmly as part of the case. It’s as if even if Bulgari’s designers had the freedom to create a chronograph from scratch, this is what it would look like, rather than just being a complication pasted onto an existing base.
Across the case at 9 o’clock is the GMT function pusher, in a size equal to that of the space between the chronograph pushers that’s occupied by the crown. This pusher activates the jumping hour mechanism, which allows you to quickly set the time, while the subdial at 3 o’clock indicates the home time via a 24-hour counter. This small bit of space used to integrate the GMT function via the pusher at 9 o’clock is the only indicator of the complication. For the most part, the GMT blends in and doesn’t weigh down the watch with additional features or clutter.
At 6 o’clock, you’ll see the 30-minute counter, while at 9 o’clock is the seconds sub-dial. The simple matte, sandblasted gray titanium dial and black hands/indices make for a highly legible dial that benefits greatly from the ample anti-reflective coating on the sapphire crystal. Rather than giving glare and reflection while held at an angle under the far-from-ideal lighting of a show like Baselworld, the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT just appears to not have any crystal there at all. This legibility isn’t innovative or unique to Bulgari; rather, it’s actually something available to almost any watch — brand few choose to do.
The caseback shows the new automatic BVL 318 caliber movement, which has a 55-hour power reserve. Of course, the beauty of the movement lies within its functionality and thinness but touches like Côtes de Genève are necessary when a watch is priced in this category. It’s not a movement that will wow you by pure aesthetics, but it’s very clear that the case of the watch is what’s bringing design and aesthetics to the table.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT is probably the most “everyday wearable” piece in the line since the time-only version debuted. Considering the intended market placement for the Octo Finissimo, Bulgari had to eventually do a chronograph, and most anyone could have seen this coming. What I didn’t see coming was such a thin movement that also adds one of the most useful complications (the GMT) in a way that doesn’t overburden the dial design, In short, it works on every level. If you’re into the Octo Finissimo style, try this one on, since getting it on the wrist is necessary to the experience of understanding it. Price for the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT automatic watch is $17,600. You can learn more over at bulgari.com.