Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar: Time Really Is Ultra Thin!
The full expanse of time, across the entire life of the universe, is inconceivably massive. If the cosmological theory of the heat death of the universe turns out to be true, then the universe is going to be around for a very, very, very long time – so long that the amount of time from the Big Bang to now (approximately 13.8 billion years) is almost nothing compared to its full time scale.
If you were to write out the history of the universe up until now over the length of one kilometer, the estimated remaining time until the heat death of the universe written out would stretch across the known universe (which is around 93 billion light years in diameter) a whopping 1076 times.
This number is so incredibly large that it is functionally inconceivable to the human brain, boggling the mind. One interesting fact about things this large: if you want to see the entirety of it in one go, you would need to be incredibly far away.
Even if that history of the universe was written one billion light years tall, its time until now would still appear as a razor-thin line.
If you take that into consideration, it appears that our time, no matter how long and massive, could be described as ultra-thin, a tiny band stretching into the distant past and far, far future. For that reason the natural state of time is to be thin, something the creative minds at Bulgari seem to have taken to heart in the last decade as it has pushed the boundaries of just how thin thin can be.
Bulgari has set record upon record for thinness, and another was added to the list with the release of the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar, a groundbreaking complicated timepiece measuring a scant 5.8 millimeters in height.
Representing the seventh world record in as many years, the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar is another pinnacle of engineering and slim thinking, showcasing how measuring time (especially days, months, and years) doesn’t need to be bigger than a few coins.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar
The Octo Finissimo line has been wildly popular and represents great value across its range.
From the Octo Finissimo Automatic and Octo Finissimo Chronograph, which can be had for well under $20,000, or this latest entry, which starts at just below $60,000 in titanium, the amount of engineering you get is pretty astonishing. A basic time-only, ultra-thin watch is one thing, a perpetual calendar takes things to a whole new level.
When the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar was released, it became the current world record holder as the thinnest perpetual calendar on the market. It looks simple on the outside but it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
On the dial you get the hours and minutes in the center, as usual, and a retrograde date display arching over the upper half of the dial. On the bottom half are a pair of displays for day of the week and month, each indicated using a small hand and abbreviations printed directly on the dial (no room for recessed dials in this watch).
At 6 o’clock is a bit of a surprise: a small retrograde leap year indicator nestled in between the two subdials.
The aesthetic follows the typical Octo Finissimo style that has been established for a while and that many have fallen in love with: a hard, angled case, usually in blasted grey titanium paired with a short-linked bracelet and a round bezel sporting an octagonal opening (hence the Octo moniker) provide a distinct look to the collection.
For people who want a more traditional style there are other brands, but those who want a watch that stands out while doing its best not to stand out from the wrist with its height will probably love the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar.
The craziest thing about the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar (and all other Octo Finissimo models) aesthetically is the amount of visual texture the cases and dials have that is often lost on ultra-thin models. There are so many chamfered angles on these pieces it’s wild to think that it still can come in at such a thin total measurement while looking like it must be a more typical thickness due to the features.
This is much different than many ultra-thin watches that have tiny, smooth cases, miniscule crowns, and hardly any character other than being wafer thin.
This wafer-thin case is helped by the ridiculously thin 2.75 millimeter-high Caliber BVL 305, which has managed to squeeze an entire perpetual calendar mechanism between the movement and the dial. To minimize thickness, the watchmakers have cleverly used the volume next to the micro rotor and the balance wheel to arrange a majority of the mechanism. The upper half of the movement was reserved as the power center, sporting the winding mechanism and mainspring as well as the micro rotor.
The lower half of the movement is everything time related. The going train and regulation don’t actually take up that much room, allowing for the complexity of the perpetual calendar mechanism to use valuable space. The mechanism spans the entire thickness of the movement with a snail cam visible on the rear of the movement that passes through the entire caliber to drive the retrograde leap year indication at 6 o’clock.
Other than that, the rest of the mechanism is (sadly) hidden beneath the dial, but fortunately we have high-quality images of the uncased movement, and it is a beauty. The mechanism features three correctors to adjust the date, day and month, making it easy to follow the path of the mechanism: the levers crisscross the movement to interact with the variety of cams, star wheels, racks and gears, all delicately advancing the indications with ease.
The corrector at 2 o’clock advances the date; the day of the week is adjusted via the corrector at 8 o’clock; and the month is handled by the corrector at 4:00. The mechanism, while being very thin and purpose built for this ultra-thin movement, looks relatively normal as perpetual calendars go. It feels like a meshing of classic watchmaking and modern techniques to make such a technically complex caliber possible at such a thin dimension.
The retrograde mechanism for the date indication is the only part of the perpetual calendar that shares the upper half of the movement with the power and winding, and it doesn’t take up much room. The almost two dozen levers and dozen more racks and cam wheels are all kept snug by over a dozen additional springs carefully shaped and filed for just the right amount of force.
Thin movement, big effort
To design and adjust a perpetual calendar mechanism, a deep amount of skill and patience are required. On top of that come the extra-thin parts and more delicate springs in a tighter arrangement. Not to mention that all the parts are finished beautifully, many with polished and chamfered edges, straight or circular graining, with plates and bridges sporting perlage and côtes de Genève.
That is a lot of finishing and extra effort for a movement that is never going to be seen and needs to be as thin as possible.
One of the hallmarks of ultra-thin movements has become the simplified finishing because adding in polished and chamfered edges is difficult on such thin components, but a whole host of the parts of this perpetual calendar mechanism have it applied, showcasing how far Bulgari goes to create an outstanding movement for the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar.
When you are setting a world record, you really want to dress your best. Honestly this should come as no surprise since Bulgari is Italian first, and anyone in fashion knows the Italians never miss an opportunity to dress to the nines. But it might still come as a surprise when you see the muted aesthetic of the monochromatic blasted titanium that the movement is still impeccably finished.
This is why the Octo Finissimo line as a whole presents such a value, and the new Perpetual Calendar is no different.
If you love the horology but want something a bit flashier, Bulgari also offers a second version of the Perpetual Calendar in platinum with a blue dial and alligator strap, but I personally feel that version actually loses of bit of the allure of the stealthy world record-holding thinness of the titanium version.
Even so it still is an incredible piece of haute horlogerie.
What’s more, Bulgari isn’t going to rest on its laurels either as it has the next five years planned for more extra-small, extra-thin calibers, meaning that we have so much more to look forward to after an already incredible seven years.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one of the future pieces will finally incorporate an extra-thin and extra-precise moon phase, but only time will tell!
Since the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar is so thin, let’s carefully break this one down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.79 Perpetual calendars are some of the coolest movements, and when you push it to be ultra thin, my awe is multiplied!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 97.9 » 960.071m/s2 Thinking about both the enormity of time and how tiny we are is fun but lusting after a super-thin perpetual calendar like this Octo Finissimo is better!
- M.G.R. * 71.02 World record-breaking ultra-thin perpetual calendar, what more is there to say? This is a truly geektastic movement!
- Added-Functionitis * Moderate Four added functions thanks to the perpetual calendar doesn’t quite demonstrate how amazing this watch is but still you should grab some extra-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream even though this clearly has no swelling whatsoever, it is so thin!
- Ouch Outline * 10.9 A fingernail that gets bent backwards! If you have ever let your fingernails grow longer than a week or two, you might have had the unfortunate experience of it getting accidentally bent backwards in a very weird and painful way. It’s not fun and creates an odd and uncomfortable feeling that makes my skin crawl, yet I’d gladly do it if it meant getting this on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * It has a perpetual calendar and it’s how thin?! Every world record that Bulgari sets also comes with the surprise of what is included in that particular watch, and this pushes that even further. When I found out how thin it was, I couldn’t schedule a tux fitting fast enough!
- Awesome Total * 737.5 Start with the price of the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar in titanium in dollars (59,000) and divide by the diameter (40), then divide by the number of versions (2) to get a thinly veiled awesome total!
For more information, please visit bulgari.com.
Quick Facts Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar
Case: 40 x 5.8 mm, blasted titanium or brushed platinum
Movement: automatic Caliber BVL 302, 60 hours power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz, ultra-thin 2.75 mm in height
Functions: hours, minutes; perpetual calendar with retrograde date, day, month, retrograde leap year indication
Price: $59,000 (titanium); $89,000 (platinum)
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