This Is The World's Thinnest Watch With A Flying Tourbillon
It’s perhaps surprising that Bulgari, a brand with such affection for Roman opulence—think the saffron-coloured silk, oversized chandeliers and stacks of marble slabs at its glistening flagship store in Central—should create starkly architectural and futuristic watches.
At Baselworld, always one of the world’s most highly anticipated watch and jewellery shows, fans of the Italian brand were pleased to see it continuing its quest for discreet modernism through extra-thin mechanical movements.
Bulgari has been busy for years developing techniques for ultra-slim watchmaking and has given various models—most notably the Octo case—a whole new lease of life by shrinking their movements down to just a few millimetres thick.
The Finissima, an evolved version of the Finissimo Minute Repeater movement first presented for men at Baselworld 2016, is given a facelift this year with the Divas’ Dream Finissima Minute Repeater 103138.
Limited to 10 pieces, the lady’s watch comes in a 37mm case of 18-karat white gold snow-set with round-cut diamonds. The world’s thinnest minute repeater, its blue aventurine dial conceals a BVL 362 calibre, which is designed to engage a new generation of collectors who value practicality over extravagance.
The same appeal is found in the newly released Octo Finissimo TB Carbon 103072. Limited to 50 pieces, it features the world’s thinnest tourbillon calibre, BVL 288, a flying tourbillon and 52 hours of power reserve. The skeletonised dial with matte-black finishing is packed into a 42mm carbon thin ply (CTP) case complete with a transparent caseback showing the workings of the movement.
Bulgari’s Octo design, long been recognised for its daring aesthetic and excellent precision, has become a mainstay in the collections of many seasoned aficionados. Its clean architecture pays tribute to Italian history, inspired as it is by the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome begun by the emperor Maxentius and completed by Constantine in AD 315.
The Octo’s unique octagonal design houses wafer-thin mechanisms that have broken boundaries in the world of horological complications. The original Octo Finissimo Automatic is only 5.15mm thick, for example, while its self-winding movement is just 2.23mm thick for a 40mm diameter.
Miniaturisation has always been one of watchmaking’s main objectives. Fitting multiple functions into a single movement that has to remain lightweight and comfortable often requires reimagining space. The 1960s and ’70s saw a big surge in the popularity of ultra-thin watches.
Now, half a century later and in an increasingly competitive market, many top-end watchmakers are broadening the appeal of even their most complex and successful timepieces.
Bulgari has made a clear statement in the world of haute horology by sending its premium lines on a crash diet, with radical models such as the Divas’ Dream Finissima Minute Repeater and Octo Finissimo TB Carbon standing out in a crowded field.
And although the watches continue Bulgari’s push to break records for slimness, perhaps the most remarkable takeaway is the fact that it isn’t so much the newness of these watches that stands out most, but their timelessness.
This article first appeared on hk.asiatatler.com.