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An octagonal masterpiece?
In recent years Bulgari, darling of starlets and the well-healed, have produced some very impressive timepieces.
The acquisition of Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth signaled a serious intent to become a significant other to the usual names which are revered practitioners of haute horology.
The original Octo was the brainchild of the late Gérald Genta. Many will perceive, myself included, that Mr Genta was the greatest watch designer of the twentieth century. Comparable success in the music industry would have resulted in walls being decorated with gold discs.
Mr Genta’s horological hits were numerous. His 1972 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has become an icon. Later he topped the charts with another stainless steel beauty, the Patek Philippe Nautilus. There were other models in his potfolio which successfully embraced originality. The inventory of clients included Cartier, IWC, Omega and Bulgari with its popular Bulgari-Bulgari model.
Gérald Genta sold the brand bearing his own name back in 1996 to Singapore’s Hour Glass Group. In 2000, Bulgari acquired the Manufacture Genta & Roth From Hour Glass. In 2010, Bulgari integrated the know-how, skills and expertise of the Manufacture to give it its deserved visibility thanks to Bulgari's prestigious image. The Brand continued to feature the designer’s name on the dials of several models since after this date, referring to the Calibers developed previously by the high end movements Manufacture.
Bulgari have now launched a new Octo.
The Black lacquered dial has been crafted in-house and is polished. It features on both pink gold and steel variants. I personally favour the costlier model made of precious metal. It has a rich, temperate tincture and this is the focus of my review.
The hours are marked with gold applied batons save for 6 o’clock and noon where Arabic numerals fluently convey the hours in a narrow font.
In between each baton, minute integers are presented with simple white strokes.
The date aperture resides at 3 o’clock with the date presented in white text on a black background. No border frames the aperture, congruent with the clean persona of the watch.
The hour and minute hands are dauphine shaped, but skeletonised at their core. This allows the black dial to peep through the opening, further enhancing legibility.
A central seconds hand is as slim as a supermodel in a sauna. No excessive metal or superfluous adornment.
The dial is handsome. All is neat and harmonious.
Gérald Genta was the genius who conceived the Royal Oak and the original Octo, both with octagonal cases. However, the design language of the individual watches was very different.
The latest evolution of the Octo has been distilled to perfection. It seems almost blasphemous to say this when talking about a design originally penned by a great like Genta, but I genuinely prefer this model to former Octo models.
The marriage of brushed and polished surfaces works well and suits the angular lines of the case.
The strap joins the case with an innovative lug design that augments the aesthetic.
Bulgari have equipped the Octo with a fine movement. The calibre BVL 193 is a self-winding movement with a frequency of 28,800 vph.
The quality of the movement is impressive. The rotor runs on ball bearings, often found on costlier watches. The twin barrels scavenge kinetic energy from the wearer’s wrist resulting in a 50 hour power reserve.
I personally appreciate the finissage of this timpeiece. Pivots are polished, wheels are satin-brushed and perlage appears on the plate. Moreover, the bridges are decorated with Côtes de Genève motif, chamfered and polished. There is an integrity to the movement and it is a worthy testament to timed-served craftsmanship.
I like this watch and feel Bulgari should feel duly proud of this model. But, there is an elephant in the room.
I have read articles about this watch and several journalists have asked why the Gerald Genta’s name has been omitted from the dial. I can understand this position as a work of art is clearly worth more when signed. Gérald Genta designed watches which could grace any wall in an art gallery, he was an artist of great standing.
Nevertheless, I don’t subscribe to the opinion that the famous designer’s nomenclature had to feature on the dial. This watch has been lovingly enhanced by gifted talents at the house of Bulgari. They have created a fine looking watch with sparing and considered use of detail. Nothing is extraneous or clutters the august appeal of the watch. To adorn the dial with additional text would compromise the design and I don’t think Mr Genta would have liked that.
An octagonal masterpiece? Definitely and worthy of wearing the Bulgari name.
- Model: Bulgari Octo
- Reference: 101963 – BGOP41BGLD
- Case: 18-carat pink gold; diameter 41.5 mm; height 10.55 mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date.
- Movement: Calibre BVL 193, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz) ; 28 jewels; power reserve 50 hours.
- Strap: Black leather strap fitted with 18-carat pink gold deployant.