Compared to many other instantly recognizable watches, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is a relatively modern creation, having joined the lineup in 2014. That said, the core design of the Octo Finissimo has proven to be a smashing success for the brand, and Bulgari has used it as a platform to create a diverse lineup of watches that reimagine this fan-favorite silhouette with a variety of different case materials and complications. For 2023, Bulgari has created a pair of new Octo Finissimo models in forged carbon and rose gold, and we recently had a chance to go hands-on with the new Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic while previewing the brand’s latest pieces at Geneva Watch Days 2023.

Hands-on photos by David Bredan

The new Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic (ref. 103779) and its perpetual calendar sibling were both announced earlier this summer. While both of the new CarbonGold watches are essentially variations of existing models, the use of forged carbon with rose gold accents results in a noticeably different overall aesthetic. Additionally, since forged carbon is also used for the bracelet links, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic offers a significantly different on-wrist presence compared to its steel or titanium siblings, although it still closely adheres to the same angular design that has become one of the cornerstone offerings in the brand’s modern catalog.

While the Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic is an objectively different timepiece than the brand’s creation for Only Watch 2023, the overall aesthetic is somewhat similar with rose gold taking the place of yellow gold, and the black and gray asymmetric pattern of the forged carbon standing in for the green marble that adorns the case and bracelet of the one-of-a-kind piece that will be part of the Only Watch 2023 charity auction. Again, these two models are ultimately very different watches, and the Only Watch piece is also equipped with a tourbillon. Furthermore, as a material, forged carbon is essentially the total opposite of marble; however, it’s undeniable that there is a fundamental level of aesthetic overlap between these two very different renditions of a time-only Octo Finissimo.

The case of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic consists of a small titanium internal section that holds the movement and serves as the foundation for the carbon fiber components that are attached to it. Due to its more involved structure, the case of the Octo Finissimo CarbonGold is slightly thicker than other three-handed automatic models with traditional metal cases, and it measures 40mm in diameter by 6.9mm thick, with flat sapphire crystals fitted to both the dial side of the watch and its screw-on caseback. For those not familiar with the design of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo, the caseback is secured by a series of eight small screws that run through the middle case and thread into the underside of the bezel. On the Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic, the screws are rose gold, and they hold the case components together to help create a rather respectable 100 meters of water resistance.

Despite its “CarbonGold” name, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic is primarily a forged carbon watch, and there are only a handful of small gold components that serve as luxurious accents throughout its design. On the 3 o’clock side of the case is a solid 18k rose gold crown that is adorned with a black ceramic insert on its tip, while the opposite side of the case is fitted with a matching rose gold plate that is engraved with the watch’s hallmarks. This concludes the gold elements on the outside of the Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic, and the only other rose gold accents appear on the dial, hands, and various components of the movement that sit visibly through the display-style caseback.

While the overall design and layout of the dial is more-or-less identical to what can be found on the standard time-only Bulgari Octo Finissimo watches, the CarbonGold edition further leans into its signature aesthetic with a forged carbon surface punctuated by rose gold finished hands and hour markers. Just as we have come to expect from the Octo Finissimo series, elongated Arabic numerals sit at 12 and 6 o’clock, while thin polished rose gold batons are placed between them and serve as the rest of the hour markers. Having a centrally-mounted seconds hand typically increases the overall height of a watch, and part of how the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is able to achieve its characteristic thin profile is by having the running seconds hand relocated to a small register that resides on the lower left-hand of the dial and takes the place of the 7 and 8 o’clock indexes.

The trio of rose gold-finished hands all appear in a slightly blunted dauphine shape, and like other models from the Bulgari Octo Finissimo range, the hour hand and minute hand are both skeletonized, which allows the forged carbon surface of the dial to show through the narrow apertures in their structures. As with the standard time-only models from the series, the dial of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic lacks any type of minute track, and this means that an approximation of the time is all that it is able to provide. That said, a minimalist dial is one of the hallmark features of the Octo Finissimo collection, and the addition of minute markers would significantly detract from the model’s clean and modern appearance.

The pairing of forged carbon and gold offers a unique contrast. Carbon fiber is an inherently modern and sporty material, lightweight and extremely durable. Meanwhile, gold is essentially the total opposite of forged carbon, and it is one of the most traditional watchmaking materials that is known for being heavy and accompanied by implicit connotations of luxury. Aesthetically, this contrast creates a rather striking and unusual overall package, although because the Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic is primarily constructed from carbon fiber, the watch is incredibly light on the wrist, and the fact that its bracelet is also constructed from forged carbon only further helps to create a different wearing experience compared to its siblings that are crafted from traditional alloys.

From a design standpoint, the bracelet fitted to the Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic is more or less identical to what can be found on the other bracelet-equipped models from the collection, and it follows the same flat single-link design with the angular end links forming an integrated appearance with the case. With that in mind, the links themselves are constructed from forged carbon to match the case, and while the standard Octo Finissimo on a bracelet was hardly a heavy watch, the carbon fiber links provide a noticeably lighter and less substantial presence on the wrist. Forged carbon bracelets can sometimes be a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it feature among collectors, and while there are some who love them for their comfort and lightweight construction, others prefer traditional metal bracelets due to the fact that forged carbon components can often feel a bit like plastic when used for the bracelet links of a watch.

Aside from the update to materials, the bracelet of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic is very much in line with what can be found throughout the rest of the current collection, and it features the same type of ultra-thin butterfly-style folding clasp that creates a seamless appearance on the underside of the wrist. Additionally, while the clasp doesn’t offer any type of micro-adjustment capabilities, the Octo Finissimo is hardly the type of watch that warrants a diver’s extension to fit over the sleeve of a wetsuit, and I imagine that most owners would prefer a thin and refined clasp that better complements the rest of the model’s svelte design. While I am objectively a fan of integrated extension systems, the clasp on the Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic is the antithesis of bulky, and it allows the entire watch (including its bracelet) to sit incredibly flush against the wrist.

Powering the Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic is the same in-house Caliber BVL 138 ultra-thin movement that can be found inside the other time-only versions of the Octo Finissimo. Part of how Bulgari is able to achieve such a thin profile is by using a micro-rotor setup for its self-winding movements, and rather than having the entire automatic module bolted onto the reverse side of the caliber, a micro-rotor crafted from solid 950 platinum is recessed into the movement and sits level with its upper plates and bridges. Just as you get with the standard Octo Finissimo models, the Bulgari Cal. BVL 138 inside this latest CarbonGold edition runs at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 60 hours, although to further lean into the CarbonGold theme of this particular model, the micro-rotor, balance bridge, and upper plates are all given a rose gold finish with the entirety of the movement sitting visibly through the circular display window in the caseback.

The Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic is accompanied by an official retail price of $26,800 USD, which represents a significant premium compared to its three-handed siblings. While a higher price was a given, I think placing this value within the context of the rest of the brand’s modern catalog is important. The new CarbonGold Automatic costs more than twice the price of a standard stainless steel Octo Finissimo on a bracelet, and it is even slightly more expensive than the titanium version of the Octo Finissimo Skeleton 8 Days. Bulgari is a blue-chip luxury brand and its products are categorically rather expensive offerings; however, relative value is always important, and it’s undeniable that the Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic is rather ambitiously priced compared to the brand’s standard offerings. That said, this striking CarbonGold model could also be seen as the commercially viable expression of the concept that Bulgari unveiled for Only Watch 2023, and while it is undeniably a rather expensive piece, it is also exponentially more affordable than whatever astronomical sum the brand’s one-of-a-kind creation will fetch at the upcoming charity auction. For more information on the Bulgari Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic, please visit the brand’s website


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