So, you get on a plane. You get off the plane. You get in a cab. You check into your hotel. You jump in the pool. You call home. And you do all these things on time because you have a worldtimer on your wrist. I’ve never fully understood why there’s such a marked dearth of nice, highly water-resistant worldtimers out there, given how incredibly useful this specific segment of watchmaking can be when it comes to real-world practicality, but it’s true — there really just aren’t that many. Well, fellow globetrotters rejoice — as many parts of the world return to travel following the travel hiatus of 2020 and much of 2021, Bulgari is here with a new entry in the space: the Octo Roma Worldtimer, arriving fresh on the heels of last week’s Aluminum GMT launch, just in time for Geneva Watch Days.
Model: Octo Roma Worldtimer
Dimensions: 41mm (8.3mm-thick)
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Case Material: Stainless steel (brushed steel with blue dial or DLC-coated steel with black dial)
Movement: Bulgari BLV257 (in-house developed automatic worldtimer calibre)
Strap/Bracelet: Integrated stainless steel bracelet or integrated textured rubber strap
Price & Availability: Starts at $8,350 USD for the variant on strap
You could almost count on a single hand the number of excellent, currently available worldtime watches that have more than 50 meters of water resistance (remember, that ever-important daily jog on vacation, the hotel pool dunk, or pre-flight ocean swim), but there are, indeed, a few good ones: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Geographic WT Chronograph, the Girard Perregaux Laureato Absolute, Breitling Aviator 8 Unitime, the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtime, and the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Worldtime are the first to come to mind — in fact, they’re the only watches that come to mind.
I’ll be the first to admit that I might have preferred this release as an Octo Finissimo — Bulgari’s ultra-thin, ultra-high-end collection of show-stopping watches — but the Roma collection is smartly positioned as a much more economical alternative, borrowing the same eight-sided architectural angles and svelte integrated bracelet design, while deploying stainless steel cases (as opposed to titanium) with less elaborate finishing and complexity throughout to keep the pricing in league with other mid-range luxury offerings. It’s hardly a knock, though — the Roma is a great host for a sporty Worldtimer that can (and should) easily compete with any of the aforementioned, in both price and capability.
Inside, Bulgari is using the new BVL257, which does follow the B-V-L designation that the brand reserves for its own calibres (unlike the B192 powering the Aluminum GMT), which are developed at its own Le Sentier manufacture. This is a semi-complex (261 parts) automatic with both a 12- and 24-hour time display, the latter being expressed as one of two rotating discs. It’s a relatively modern expression of a worldtimer, which uses both a 24-hour rotating disc in conjunction with a rotating city disc, both of which can be adjusted via the crown (not unlike setting the day or date on a simpler complication). To use this, one recommends the traveler simply match up the local time with its 24-hour equivalent using the crown, and then only adjust the local time upon travel. This way, one can easily keep track of time back home, or time abroad for that early-morning Zoom call, making this quite a handy complication, indeed.
As though to perhaps further underscore its intent as a jet-setting vacation watch, several of the Octo Roma Worldtimer’s 24 cities are neatly expressed as holiday hotspots — from Cabo San Lucas down in Mexico (GMT -6) to the island getaways of St. Barth (GMT -4) and the Maldives (GMT +5), respectively. Then, of course, as a nod to Bulgari’s deep Italian roots, the collection’s namesake and Italy’s capital, Rome, gets top billing on the dial, occupying the space usually reserved for Geneva, or some other Swiss name in the cradle of watchmaking.
The Octo Roma Worldtimer is presented in two distinct color and strap options: a sunburst-blue dial with an all-brushed stainless steel case and bracelet, and then a stealthier affair rendered in black DLC and fixed to an integrated rubber strap. At first glance, the dial color is most obviously the biggest difference, but a closer look reveals two very different executions — the blue bears applied markers, while the black opts for the sharp contrast of luminous paint. However, both options appear to carry the same price of $8,350 when this is expected to land at Bulgari boutiques and authorized retailers later this season. As always, you can learn more about the Roma collection and order your own directly from bulgari.com.