Founded in 1884, Bulgari started its life as a single jewelry shop, but it has since expanded over the years and transformed into an international luxury brand that now produces everything from watches and jewelry to handbags, leather goods, and even fragrances. Design and aesthetics always play a major role in everything that Bulgari creates, and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Octo collection, the brand has unveiled a handful of new Octo Finissimo watches in a variety of different materials and configurations. Originally created by renowned watch designer Gerald Genta during the 1980s, the Octo became a Bulgari design when the company acquired Genta’s eponymous brand back in 2000. The Bulgari Octo collection first debuted in 2012 and in less than a decade, it has become synonymous with the brand and is now one of Bulgari’s most famous designs. Among the new releases that debuted at Geneva Watch Days 2022 is the Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition, which was created in collaboration with the famous Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima, and reimagines the classic ultra-thin Octo watch with her signature award-winning approach to design.
The case of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition is based upon the existing Octo Finissimo S watch, which represents a more performance-oriented version of the brand’s original ultra-slim design. Measuring 40mm in diameter by just 6.4mm-thick, the stainless steel case is able to offer a fairly significant 100 meters of water resistance, thanks to a screw-down winding crown that is adorned with a black ceramic insert. Just like other Octo Finissimo models, the watch foregoes a traditional caseback design and instead features a sapphire display window set directly into the reverse side of its middle case. The dial of the watch is protected by a second sapphire crystal, which is held on by a circular bezel attached to the case with eight hidden screws located on the back of the watch that run through the middle case and screw directly into the underside of the bezel. Fitted to the case is an integrated stainless steel bracelet with a butterfly style folding clasp, and the links adjacent to the clasp feature cut-outs on their underside surfaces, which allow the structure of the clasp to sit within them when closed. This means that the bracelet is able to maintain the same overall thickness throughout the entirety of its tapered shape to better compliment the ultra-thin design of the watch itself. However, unlike the standard stainless steel model that features a mixture of brushed and polished surfaces, the entire case and bracelet of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition receives fully high-polished surfaces for a mirror-like appearance, while the sapphire window on the reverse side of the watch features Kazuyo Sejima’s signature, along with text denoting the model as a limited edition.
While its fully polished case finishing is unique among the current Octo lineup, the dial of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition is where the model truly sets itself apart from the rest of the collection. The dial surface is made from sapphire crystal that has been treated to give it a mirror effect, and it completely lacks any type of hour markers, text, or branding whatsoever. Despite the highly unconventional design of the dial itself, the layout of the hands is identical to what can be found on the various other three-handed Octo Finissimo models. A pair of centrally-mounted hands display the hours and minutes, while a small running seconds hand appears at the 7:30 location, and all three hands are rhodium-plated to complement the glossy appearance of the dial and case. Additionally, probably the single most unusual aspect of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition is the sapphire crystal that sits above its dial. Rather than simply being a traditional piece of clear synthetic sapphire, the crystal features a metallized dot pattern throughout the entirety of its surface, which was designed by the famous Japanese architect and is intended to play with the concepts of light and transparency to create a unique and incredibly striking overall aesthetic.
Powering the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition is the in-house BVL 138 automatic movement, which is the same ultra-thin caliber that you will find inside the other three-handed Octo Finissimo models that are currently in production. Running at a frequency of 21,600vph and offering users a 60-hour power reserve, the Bulgari BVL 138 measures just 2.23mm thick, despite being a self-winding movement with a transverse balance bridge. Part of how the Caliber BVL 138 is able to achieve its incredibly slim structure is by featuring a micro-rotor setup that includes a solid 950 platinum oscillating weight mounted on ceramic ball bearings to help maximize winding efficiency. Additionally, unlike many ultra-thin watches that incorporate the mainplate and bridges of their movements into the case construction of their respective watches, the Bulgari BVL 138 is a complete standalone movement and it sits fully visible through the sapphire window on the back of the watch.
Part of what makes the Bulgari Octo Finissimo such a successful design is that its signature case shape makes it instantly recognizable, regardless of the materials used in its construction or the various complications that might be featured on the watch. Even devoid of any logos or branding and with a unique metallic dot motif across the entirety of its crystal, the Octo Finissimo remains immediately identifiable as Bulgari’s signature design, and it is precisely for this reason why the model is widely considered to be a modern horological icon. With an official retail price of $14,100 USD, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition will be produced as a limited edition of 360 pieces worldwide, and each example will be accompanied by a special stainless steel presentation box that incorporates the watch’s signature mirror-like aesthetic. For more information, please visit the manufacturer’s website.