In the run-up to BaselWorld, Bulgari has released some information on their newest watch, the Octo Chrono. No, this one isn’t emblazoned with any eight-legged sea creatures. Instead, you’ve got an octagon, a representative combination of a square and circle (and, if you follow their hyperbolic press release, it symbolizes the combination of Italian design and Swiss precision). While the design is sure to garner attention, that’s not the main thing that makes this watch interesting to us.
For that, you actually need to look past the angular skin (though, with 110 alternating brushed and polished surfaces, that might be a tad hard to do). What I really want to draw some attention to is the movement that’s beating away. With it’s silicium escapement, 50-hour power reserve, and high-beat (36,000 VPH) nature, you’ve basically got what amounts to a Zenith El Primero movement (you can read more about the El Primero and column wheel chronographs here).
Now, I don’t care what watch a movement like this shows up in – when it comes around, you know you’ve got quite a special chronograph on your hands. This one just happens to be packaged up in a physical embodiment of the aforementioned octagon. You’ll see the shape in the lines of the case, as well as the dial. Overall, I think the case shape works well, with one exception.
That exception comes into play with the pushers flanking the crown. As they follow the lines of the case, they actually look like an extension of the case on the right hand side. Which, in and of itself, is a good thing, as it makes for a cohesive flow. However, If you look at the case as a whole, it makes things feel unbalanced, as the left hand side doesn’t have this extension, which just kind of makes the watch feel a little “off” to me, at least when you’re looking at it straight on.
Regardless of the case extensions, it is a fairly compact affair for a modern watch – the case, which is available in pink gold or steel, measures in at a modernly modest 41.5mm (and is only 13mm thick). Combined with either the steel bracelet or a leather strap (that has a material-matched folding clasp), and you’ve definitely got the makings of a distinctive dress chronograph – especially when you consider that the hands and applied indices on the dial pick up the same material (and color) from the case.
While I am primarily a fan of traditional case shapes, I am interested in seeing the various “out of the box” options that makers have come up with. While Bulgari’s Octo Chrono isn’t wildly different, the angular usage definitely gives things a modern feel. And when it comes to those chronograph pushers, I understand the reason for the shape and size they went with, and I think trying to reduce them would throw off the watch in other ways.
In short, it’s the classic “rock and a hard place” sort of a design conundrum. And who knows – once you’ve got the Octo on your wrist, it may be a concern that just melts away. If that’s the path you plan to take (see it in person and make a decision), you’ll be able to pick one up yourself for – well, we’ll let you know when we get that piece of information. Just be thankful you weren’t the one reading through the press release to bring you this information – many Bothans may have died in the process. bulgari.com
Tech Specs from Bulgari
- BVL 328, self-winding column-wheel chronograph movement
- Equipped with a silicium escapement; 36,000 vph, 50-hour power reserve, 31 jewels
- 30 mm in diameter, 6.62 mm thick
- Finely crafted 41.5 mm case in 18K pink gold or solid steel
- Transparent sapphire crystal case-back
- Screw-lock crown in 18K pink gold or steel with ceramic insert
- 13.07 mm thick
- Hours and minutes, chronograph central seconds hand along with hour and minute counters, small seconds, date window between 4 and 5 o’clock
- Multi-layered black dial, faceted hour-markers coated with pink gold or rhodium
- Steel bracelet or black alligator leather strap with 18K pink gold or steel folding clasp