5 Of The Best Watches From Bulgari At The 2021 LVMH Watch Week
by Martin Green
When Italians make Swiss watches, we are always in for a treat. I guess this has something to do with many Italians being very passionate about mechanics and design being something of a religion.
Bulgari has been successfully blending these two important elements for decades, and at the virtual 2021 LVMH Watch Week the brand showed that it continues to excel at it.
In this article, I am delightfully using my privilege as Quill & Pad’s resident gentleman to highlight five of my favorite new 2021 watches from Bulgari.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo S: thin is in, but a little thicker comes with benefits
For me the Octo Finissimo S is the ultimate ultra-thin watch. And that’s despite it being thicker than the regular Octo Finissimo, although at a height of 6.4 mm it remains very far from “thick.”
The benefit of those extra millimeters is increased water resistance to 100 meters. That turns the Octo Finissimo S into a bona-fide sports watch – while still remaining the thinnest of its kind.
The new Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT is very cool with its blue dial with white subdials, but for me the Octo Finissimo S with silver-plated steel dial is the supreme creation.
Some might argue that titanium is the purest choice for any Octo Finissimo, but I prefer the shinier look of the stainless steel and its extra heft.
Combined with the vertically brushed dial, this has become my ultimate gentleman’s sports watch. That’s not a term I use lightly, in my opinion there are precious few watches combining elegance with sportier qualities.
While discussing the new Octo Finissimo S with a friend who works for a Bulgari retailer, he made a very good observation. Like me, he considers the S line a welcome and complementary addition to the Octo Finissimo collection. But we both feel Bulgari could do a better job at making it stand out.
I am not thinking about sporty stripes on the dial or anything like that – it isn’t a muscle car – but perhaps a small detail in the design to set it apart in a subtle yet distinct way from the “regular” Octo Finissimo.
This way, the watch’s true potential might be communicated in a slightly more vocal manner, making the now extensive family of Octo Finissimo models easier to distinguish from each other.
For more information, please visit www.bulgari.com/en-int/watches/by-collection/octo.
Quick Facts Bulgari Octo Finissimo S
Case: 40 x 6.4 mm, stainless steel
Movement: ultra-slim automatic Caliber BVL138, 2.23 mm in height, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency, 60-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds
Price: $12,000 / €12,300 / CHF 11,600 (available in May 2021)
Divas’ Dream Peacock: did Bulgari create the most beautiful ladies watch?
If there ever was a watch line to make one consider a gender change, it is the Divas’ Dream Peacock. The worst part is that there is not one, but three new watches making a compelling case for doing something so extreme. Among the new trio, though, it is hard to choose a favorite as they are so different from each other.
The main theme of these watches is, you guessed it, the peacock. In the press releases, Bulgari refers to this bird as “nature’s most diva-like figure.” Anybody who has been around peacocks knows that there is much truth to this, although it is primarily the male peacock that displays this behavior, putting his splendorous colors on display to impress the more modest looking female.
The term diva can seem a bit odd in connection with such a proud, colorful, and masculine bird, but this is not the case. Think of the male peacock as the Louis XIV of the animal kingdom: an absolute monarch displaying his splendor as a way of showing superior power.
When we think of watchmaking, we commonly think of people putting together a complex movement, machining a case to great detail, or making a dial out of grand feu enamel. We don’t think about somebody sorting through hundreds of fallen peacock feathers to find the ones with the best and most harmonious coloring.
Yet that is exactly what was done to create the Divas’ Dream Peacock Dischi. And it doesn’t stop there: each feather is passed through an antique brass steamer to bring its colors fully to life before being ironed flat.
Peacock feather dials were a niche trend in watchmaking in the 1970s (and again about ten years ago), but the revival Bulgari now proposes is far more complex as this is peacock feather marquetry. This means that the feathers are sorted based on color and texture and then cut into the right shape to be used in a mosaic-like way.
The result is so breathtakingly beautiful that it has a very decent chance of outshining a real-life peacock.
A key element to the glamour and mystery of the Divas’ Dream Peacock Dischi is that Bulgari combined the colorful feather marquetry with another revival that was popular in the 1950s: the mystery watch. The mystery is explained by two transparent disks (one for the hour and one for the minutes) rotating on the dial.
This construction allows the peacock feathers to fully unfold in all their depth, width, and color while Bulgari ensures the watch remains a practical timekeeper by marking the hours in the diamond-set bezel with blue sapphires.
With the Divas’ Dream Peacock Diamonds, I find the name somewhat misplaced. Yes, diamonds grace the refined bracelet, bezel and parts of the dial, allowing Bulgari to show its experience as a jewelry maker, but it is the hand-painted “feathers” against the mother-of-pearl dial that makes the peacock truly come to life on this watch.
These give it elegance and refinement while highlighting Bulgari’s ability to develop creative designs and execute them to perfection by combining several métiers d’art.
The bracelet of the Divas’ Dream Peacock Diamonds is where Bulgari shows that it made the right decisions in the development phase as I don’t think that it would have looked equally as good on a strap. The shape of the links mirrors that of the feathers, creating unity in design.
The third watch in this collection, the Divas’ Dream Peacock Tourbillon Lumière, is also the most complex. Not in the way it is decorated, but more so because it is fitted with a tourbillon. Bulgari skeletonized the movement and applied a layer on top set with diamonds and peacock marquetry. The result is still quite dashing, but to me not as potent as the other two watches. I don’t feel that watches like this need a highly complex movement as they take some of the spotlight away from the artistry.
For more information, please visit www.bulgari.com/en-int/watches/by-collection/divas-dream.
Quick Facts Bulgari Divas’ Dream Peacock Dischi
Case: 37 mm, pink gold set with diamonds and sapphires, crown set with sapphire cabochon
Dial: natural peacock feather marquetry
Movement: automatic Caliber BVL 308 Dischi
Functions: hours, minutes on two disks
Limitation: 50 pieces
Price: $68,000 / €55,000
Quick Facts Bulgari Divas’ Dream Peacock Diamonds
Case: 37 mm, pink gold set with diamonds, crown set with sapphire cabochon
Dial: white mother-of-pearl set with brilliant-cut diamonds and decorated with hand-painted peacock feather motif in 14 colors using the champlevé technique
Movement: automatic Caliber BVL 191, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: $99,000 / €80,600
Quick Facts Bulgari Divas’ Dream Peacock Tourbillon Lumière
Case: 37 mm, pink gold set with diamonds, crown set with sapphire cabochon
Dial: skeletonized dial with natural peacock feather marquetry and brilliant-cut diamonds
Movement: manual winding Caliber BVL 208 with one-minute tourbillon, 3 Hz/21,000 vph frequency, 64-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 10 pieces
Price: $143,000 / €157,000
Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon: dedication to the complication
One of Bulgari’s qualities that enriches the watch world is that it is capable of changing traditional perceptions of particular types of watches. The best example is the Octo Finissimo, which has entered the battle for the thinnest watch and movement. Bulgari also opted not to serve up its ultra-thin marvel in a traditional, classically inclined gold watch, but instead went for an angular design in titanium.
With complications, although even more a niche market, Bulgari has done the same – as the new Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon highlights.
With its 44 mm case, it is large, almost huge, yet that doesn’t bother me. There are two reasons for this: firstly, Bulgari attached the short lugs directly on, and at the same level as, the case back. This optimizes wearing comfort.
Secondly, and more importantly, everything in this watch has been done to maximize and optimize sound. Most watches with a carillon strike mechanism have a case crafted in precious metals like gold and platinum. Unfortunately, these metals dull the sound in which so much time and effort have been invested in the first place. Bulgari used titanium for the case to keep the sound as vibrant as possible.
Titanium also plays an important role in the design of the watch: it is almost as if it had given the brand the liberty to make the Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon very contemporary looking, almost industrial.
As everything is dedicated to making the sound as lively and loud as possible, both the case and dial feature a grooved grid. As part of the movement is visible through the dial, this creates the same atmosphere as a modern-day, high performance sports car.
The design gives the Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon a sense of dynamic that is rare for a watch of its kind. In the end, while technically tantalizing, I don’t know if I would call this watch beautiful. It doesn’t have the refined looks of the Divas’ Dream Peacocks or the Octo Finissimo S.
However, the Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon does possess a mystical attraction – it is undeniably captivating – and that is perhaps an even rarer form of beauty.
Quick Facts Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon
Case: 44 mm, black DLC-coated titanium
Movement: manual winding Caliber BVL 428 with one-minute tourbillon, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 75-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indicator, minute repeater with three-hammer carillon with Westminster chime
Limitation: 15 pieces
Price: $259,000 / €290,000
You may also enjoy:
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic: Enchanting Ultra-Thin In Titanium, Gold, Ceramic And Now In Steel
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic: Timing Is Getting Pretty Thin
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic: To Live With Is To Love
Top 10 Thinnest Mechanical Wristwatches: 8 Modern Record Holders And Their 2 Historic Rivals
Lessons Learned Free Ranging Peacocks (Peafowl): A Colorful Christmas ‘Tail’ (With Videos)
The Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Emerald Fans Out Into Colorful Gems
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Why is – in some cases – the US$-price lower, than the EUR-price? Looking at the official exchange rate, it should be the other way around.
We can’t explain it, either.
I think it is units sold to some other part of the ratio that says the per unit price is adjusted up or down, ether way you are paying 15 to 20x over cost , so just avoid them.
Fortunately, they also retain their value generously over the cost price, Ray, so it might not be such a bad idea to buy them after all if you like their style and can afford them. 😉
One explanation, Georg, that could explain it, at least for a bit, is that the European prices include sales tax, while for the US prices this still needs to be added. This will bring the prices more in line with each other.