February 15, 2017
by Ariel Adams
For 2017, Bulgari adds a new flavor to its popular Octo watch collection with the new Bulgari Octo Roma. At first glance, you’d be totally forgiven for not knowing that it is new or exactly what is new about it. Despite having a new case and dial, the magic Bulgari wanted to lend to the Octo Roma was that it look as though it was part of the Octo collection all along. Starting in 2012, the Bulgari Octo became a mainstay of the brand’s men’s watch collection, offering a combination of Gerald Genta-designed case and Bulgari dial combined with a rich level of design refinement. The Bulgari Octo Roma is meant to be the comfortable and classy dress watch variant of the Octo, with its narrower-feeling case – even though, like other Octo models, the case is still exactly 41mm wide.
In addition to some updated style and wearing options, what the Bulgari Octo Roma really does is narrow the placement of the lugs as part of the modified case. To the eye, the once square case becomes more round, while maintaining the faceted construction style which defines the core Bulgari Octo look.
Bulgari also uses the Octo Roma collection to introduce a new brown dial color. Similar to the blue they offer, the brown dials are produced in-house (see here how Bulgari makes watch dials here) and done using a careful multi-layer lacquer varnish technique similar to how car body panels are painted, but in a more miniature and careful manner. The warm metallic brown dials offered on the Bulgari Octo Roma watches are offered in the steel case, as well as looking very fitting in the 18k pink gold case.
Numerous small changes have been made to the original Octo for the Bulgari Octo Roma, including the case and dial. The face on the Bulgari Octo Roma looks more or less the same as that of other Octo models but the proportions of the hands and hour markers are different. Again, the differences are subtle but important to ensuring the Octo Roma feels like an Octo, but looks as good as possible in its own skin. Such design refinement helps define many of the most elegant high-end watches out there, but this is almost totally transparent in the wearing experience for most consumers who aren’t trained in the nuances of analog watch design.
The wide-brimmed round bezel of the Bulgari Octo Roma is brushed, while most of the other visible elements of the case are polished – adding to the dress watch look. Given the narrower lugs, the strap or bracelet is now 32.5mm wide, which is still wide but more comfortable to wear. The strap and bracelet still have a nice taper which allows them to look better on the wrist, but also wear more comfortably. What you really have is something more traditional-looking (and -wearing) in the Bulgari Octo Roma as compared to the original Octo, but not without having a design that conveys a particular and bold sense of style and personality.
The 58-facet cases are (again) 41mm wide and water-resistant to 100 meters with a screw-down crown (that has a small ceramic insert in it). Dial colors are black, brown, and silver, with some two-tone steel and gold options. The two-tone Bulgari Octo Roma is interesting given that the center ring of the case is in gold while the rest is in steel. It’s a very clever design, and while it doesn’t replace the original Octo in any way, Bulgari meaningfully adds to the collection with the Bulgari Octo Roma.
The all-steel Bulgari Octo Roma with the black dial further is available with a matching steel bracelet that I think is going to be a hit with a lot of people. This is an ideal watch for those who liked the steel Octo on the bracelet but felt that the proportions of the standard Octo on the bracelet are not appropriate for their wrist given the wider bracelets on those models. Those who like the Bulgari style but have been wanting a good brown dial option will easily gravitate toward one of those models on the matching brown alligator strap.
With the Bulgari Octo Roma, the brand finally offers a character-rich dress watch for those who find more traditional round watches (like the Bulgari Roma) to be a bit lacking, and who find the original Octo to be a bit too loud. The Bulgari Octo Roma is a “medium” watch meant to sit right in the middle for those customers who feel it offers the best of both worlds, in a wearable, comfortable, and legible dress watch with a versatile character.
Inside the Bulgari Octo Roma is Bulgari’s in-house-made caliber BVL 191 automatic movement which can be seen through the back of the case through the sapphire crystal window. The movement operates at 4Hz (28,800bph) with about two days of power reserve. The BVL 191 “Solotempo” movement offers the time with second and a date indicator window at 3 o’clock (that doesn’t cut off the hour marker). Prices for the Bulgari Octo Roma watches are $5,950 in steel on an alligator strap, $6,500 in steel on a steel bracelet, $7,150 in steel and 18ct pink gold two-tone, and $18,800 in full 18ct pink gold. bulgari.com