April 7, 2021
by David Bredan
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar watch for 2021 continues what has become an established tradition for Bulgari: a new year means a new world record in ultra-thin horology. This time, as the straightforward name tells, it is the perpetual calendar’s time to take on its slimmest form to date and do so in featherweight titanium or heavyweight platinum.
In every walk of life, but perhaps most spectacularly in sport, every decade a new player emerges that excels not just in sheer performance, but also by making it all look annoyingly easy. Like you or I could do it right after them. Since 2014, this is the seventh time now that Bulgari has set a new world record in ultra-thin mechanical watchmaking. And although these releases appear to arrive right on cue every year, it’s worth remembering the fact that Bulgari is pulling off something extremely difficult – while making it, to my eyes at least, remarkably easy.
408 components are assembled into a 2.75mm-thin pancake of wheels and springs and pinions. The resulting Bulgari caliber BVL305 is squeezed inside a case that is just 5.80mm-thick.
That’s four dimes stacked on each other – which is probably the most budget-friendly way of experiencing the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar’s thinness).
Bulgari’s movement manufacture in Le Sentier, Switzerland clearly used many of the solutions it has developed for previous Octo Finissimo watches, like the combination of a micro-rotor with an especially compact and thin mainspring barrel and balance wheel bridge. Every last bit of lateral space has been carefully assigned, as is revealed by the official work-in-progress images of the caliber being assembled.
This one, showing the dial side of the movement, reveals a traffic jam of levers, springs, cams, arms, wheels, and screws, all tucked to an area left available by the mainspring barrel and the self-winding system’s micro-rotor on the other side. Not that I wish to burst anyone’s bubble, but a very considerable portion of modern perpetual calendar watches use perpetual calendar modules stacked on top of regular base calibers. Needless to say, the BVL 305 is an integrated movement where the position and height of every last part had to be uniquely assigned – and the resulting movement, in its entirety, is as thin (or thinner) than those modules put on top of base movements.
A fun, though probably senselessly expensive and unwearably heavy extra, would have been a platinum bracelet with platinum links to match the blue-dial platinum version of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar. Truth be told, in my previous encounters with leather-strapped Octo watches, I haven’t been much of a fan of the way the stiff and padded straps extend the “height” of the watches beyond the edges of my wrist. Definitely less of an issue on thicker wrists. Running to the rescue is the sandblasted titanium bracelet that is both lightweight and super comfortable. Sandblasted titanium – a signature material for every record-setting Octo Finissimo to date – is a stellar choice for these impressive watches for its high-tech nature and aesthetic. The overall diameter is quoted at 40mm, which is another welcome feat following a long decade of “oversized” watches.
Like we keep saying in these articles: these records likely would not have been possible was it not for Bulgari’s quietly established in-house manufacturing facilities which include them acquiring an ultra-high-end dial manufacturer and setting up a dedicated case and bracelet manufacture – along with Bulgari’s own movement manufacture. These facilities, although spread over Switzerland, could work closely together to ensure every major and minor component was at the cutting edge in terms of engineering and design – which is where you have to be if you are aiming for world records in an industry that’s hundreds of years old.
Pricing for the record-thin Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar in titanium is $59,000 and in platinum is $89,000. You can learn more at the brand’s website.