March 18, 2016
by Ariel Adams
Bulgari broke another watch record for 2016 by producing the world’s thinnest minute repeater with this really lovely Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater watch. More or less selling out of its planned production, Bulgari privately lamented the fact that they decided to produce the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater as a limited edition of 50 pieces. After the first full day of Baselworld 2016, it was clear that the clean and technically impressive minute repeater was a hit for today’s watch market. Here’s a look at this intentionally sober-looking yet distinctive-on-the-wrist “Octo Repetition Minutes.”
So let’s talk size, since this is a record-breaking watch. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater case is 6.85mm thick and 40mm wide in a cool sand-blasted titanium material. The crown is also titanium, although it is polished and set with a black ceramic cabochon. This is over a millimeter thinner than the previous record-setting “thinnest minute repeater,” the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Calibre 1731 Minute Repeater that wrote about back in 2014 with a 8.09mm-thick case.
Bulgari bested Vacheron Constantin not only in case size but also movement dimensions. Inside the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is the in-house-made Bulgari caliber BVL 362 manually wound movement that is just 3.12mm thick. Gong back to the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Calibre 1731 Minute Repeater, it contains a movement that is 3.8mm thick. Of course, both of these watches are going to be nice and thin, but the technical winner is easily the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater.
Bulgari isn’t at all new to minute repeaters, with a brand portfolio that includes a host of basic to incredibly complicated chiming minute repeater and sonnerie watches. It is, thus, not at all surprising that Bulgari continues coming up with impressive musical timepieces in the pursuit of producing the world’s thinnest. It is actually interesting because, a few years ago, no one would have imagined Bulgari to be one of the leaders in high-end mechanical watches – and yet, today they produce some of the best stuff.
If you recall, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo collection also contains the world’s thinnest tourbillon watches, with the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon that debuted along with the Bulgari Octo Finissimo collection back in 2014. Now two years later, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater continues that tradition. It helps that the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is both modern and stylish along with being traditionally appealing.
In sandblasted titanium, this almost industrial finish is not what most people expect from a high-end luxury watch. With that said, titanium is one of the best materials to use for a minute repeater timepiece because of its properties that do not deaden the sound of the chimes. Precious metals like gold or platinum are the enemy of loud minute repeater watches and steel and titanium are much better choices when you want the loudest, clearest sound. Bulgari uses titanium not only for the case material but also for the dial. If you look closely, you’ll notice one of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater’s most interesting design details: the cut-out hour markers and small seconds dial. This isn’t just for style, but rather as part of helping sound to travel and thus make optimal use of the interior case space for the chimes to resonate.
Rather than using an all-or-nothing sliding lever to activate the minute repeater, Bulgari opted for a pusher-style activator for the minute repeater which is placed on the left side of the case. On the wrist, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is an excellent size, and the sober style is actually so unique that it is eye-catching. Sound-wise, the minute repeater is impressively clear and crisp from the thin case. The rear of the case has a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback offering a full view of the movement.
The Bulgari caliber BVL 362 is nicely hand-finished and operates at 3Hz (21,600bph) with a power reserve of 42 hours. It offers the time with small seconds and minute repeater mechanism with the hammers and gongs visible on the rear of the movement. All that is missing, in my opinion, is the power reserve indicator – which the original Bulgari Octo Finissimo watch had. I am sure this could have been included by perhaps adding just that much extra thickness. Remember that Bulgari beat Vacheron Constantin by only about 0.1mm in movement thickness when it came to having the world’s thinnest. Actually, that was with a previous Vacheron Constantin minute repeater whose movement was just 3.28mm thick.
Attached to the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater watch is a matte-black vulcanized alligator strap on a folding titanium buckle. Check out the video above for how this beauty sounds. Again, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater watch is limited to just 50 pieces and the price is 160,000 Swiss francs. bulgari.com