May 17, 2012
by Ariel Adams
Buglari was really proud of the fact that no Maserati branding was on the dial of their special edition Octo watch for Maserati. Turn the piece over and you’ll see the famous Trident logo, but the word “Maserati” does not appear anywhere on the watch itself. That is interesting and perhaps wise.
Logically, an intersection between a famous auto and watch maker coming together to make timepieces makes sense. Though in reality few have succeeded in such an endeavor. Ferrari had its famous claim to shame with Panerai, and other brands have had less than stellar results with similar cooperations. A positive example comes from the Breitling/Bentley connection – though I don’t care much for the watch designs of that ilk. That is OK, they sell well enough without my artistic seal of approval. Ferrari just got with Hublot – which hopefully will make magic out of the relationship. Suffice it to say that when car and watch makers play, it is risky business. Did Bulgari and Maserati get it right?
Only sales success will really prove anything, but I think they got the design and branding right. Verbally indicating that “Bulgari made this watch for Maserati” sounds good. Though the watch itself should speak those words in a much, much lower volume. I once had a seasoned watch industry executive tell me that the key to killing a co-branded watch was to place both brand names on the dial. While that is not a universal rule, it seemed to make sense. Bulgari must have had that same conversation.
In fact, there are two names potentially missing from the dial of this watch – Maserati and Gerald Genta. The base watch is the Octo from the Gerald Genta collection. Until this point Bulgari was dual branding these watches, but in this case Bulgari gets the exclusive title glory. If you want to see the Gerald Genta name you’ll need to check the rotor on the automatic movement. This particular Octo for Maserati watch is a prototype – which unfortunately has a too opaque blued sapphire crystal over the movement. The final versions will have crystals that are more transparent. Still blue with the Maserati trident, but still clear enough to offer a view to the caliber GG7800 automatic chronograph movement.
That movement is really nifty. It includes the famous Gerald Genta retrograde minutes and jumping hour system of telling the time (which the Gefica Hunter GMT watch I reviewed here also uses). The lower dial is a retrograde date indicator. Then you have a cool retrograde 12 hour chronograph using the two fan shaped dials on the sides of the watch. What a marvelous dial all around. Quad retrograde hands, jumping hour, and a gorgeous symmetry. This would have made the late Mr. Genta proud. Note how the chronograph hand points down versus up in the resting position. Bulgari did a sweet job designing the dial with silver and blue tones to match the Maserati theme. Wonderfully classy and eccentric at the same time.
Years later the Octo case is still a healthy mixture of cool avant garde and architectural inspiration. Here in steel, the case is 45mm wide and more comfortable on the wrist than it may appear. The strap is tightly integrated with the case and is modeled after the leather seats of many Maserati cars. That includes the padded sections and perforation for air ventilation.
Bulgari wasn’t really clear on how many pieces they would be making. The Octo for Maserati piece is billed as a “special edition”. Effectively, I am not sure what that means. It is special though – right? What I think is that Bulgari is going to be make a limited run and see how they sell through Bulgari dealers, and maybe some Maserati dealers. Maserati makes a few models that are higher-end, but this watch will likely cost a healthy chunk of a car’s price. Overall really nice and likely as good as you can get when it comes to subtly having a watch brand produce a piece for an auto maker. When it comes down to it, Bulgari feels that both they and Maserati are Italian – so it could make perfect sense to the consumer.