Bulgari is one of the world’s most prestigious and in-demand luxury brands. Founded in Rome in 1884 by Sotirio Boulgaris, a Greek silversmith (who later changed his surname to appear more Italian), the Italian brand is highly regarded for its jewellery, fragrances, accessories, and most crucially, its watches.
The brand’s name is often stylised as ‘Bvlgari’, which isn’t just for visual effect – there’s an interesting backstory behind it. When the company created a brass logo for its flagship store on Rome’s fashionable Via Condotti in 1934, the letter ‘V’ was used in place of a ‘U’ as a reference to Ancient Rome and Roman numerals. The nomenclature has remained ever since.
While Bulgari may be best known for its jewellery, Bulgari has long been respected as a serious player in the world of fine watchmaking. Bulgari, unlike many luxury brands, has seriously invested in its horological capabilities: notably, in the 2000s, Bulgari boosted its watchmaking prowess with the acquisition of well-known brands Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta, the eponymous brand of the man who designed such legends as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus. Bulgari is a serious watchmaker that’s just as good – if not better – than many Swiss watch brands.
Indeed, Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo line has been the subject of many world firsts in watchmaking, with highlights including the world’s thinnest minute repeater, the world’s thinnest mechanical chronograph and most recently, the world’s thinnest mechanical watch.
Bulgari watches propose a genuinely viable alternative to some of the big names in the industry: they’re Swiss-made and benefit from highly refined in-house movements.
Most importantly, Bulgari watches have an aesthetic that’s completely different to their other luxury watch counterparts. They’re bold, yet elegant and perfectly bring together the worlds of fine jewellery and high-end horology.
Here are our picks of the best Bulgari watches for men to buy right now.
Bulgari Octo Roma
Reference Number: 102705
Case Material: Satin-Polished Stainless Steel
Let’s start with this: the Bulgari Octo Roma. Bulgari’s Octo watches, famous for their unusual octagonal case designs, were inspired by the ancient Basilica di Massenzio, a Roman landmark. The Octo Roma, too, is a landmark watch for Bulgari: architectural, disctintive and stylish, it’s a great watch for all occasions.
The Octo Roma is available in a wide variety of dial colours and complications but we’re big fans of this brown time and date-only variant. Blue and green dials are all the rage in watchmaking at the moment, but a rich, luscious brown like this is rather unusual – and rather handsome. The dial pairs perfectly with the rich alligator leather strap.
41mm in diameter, this Octo Roma is powered by Bulgari’s in-house BVL 191 Solotempo caliber, which is decorated with Côtes de Genève, chamfering and snailed finishing – it’s pretty to look at through its sapphire crystal caseback. A 42 hour power reserve and 50m water resistance round out this versatile watch.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo
Reference Number: 103297
Case Material: Satin-Polished Stainless Steel
Another take on the Octo, Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo collection has been around since 2014. It’s thinner and more refined than the Octo Roma, and has an awesome integrated bracelet. How thin? 6.4mm. That’s pretty impressove.
Water-resistant to 100 metres and boasting a 60-hour power reserve, its BVL 138 Finissimo movement features a platinum micro-rotor – something very in vogue at the moment.
This take on the Octo Finissimo represents the first time Bulgari has opted for a satin-polished case for the collection, with previous models being sandblasted. If you were ever of the disposition that the finish of a case makes no difference to the watch itself, this Bulgari provides clear evidence that is not the case.
Reference Number: 103540
Case Material: Black DLC-Coated Stainless Steel
First released in 1977, the Bulgari Bvlgari (named after the double usage of the brand’s name emblazoning the watch’s bezel) is one of the most famous designs Bulgari has ever produced. Clean, crisp and true to Bulgari’s Roman roots, it’s a classic design.
Unlike 70s versions of the watch, the 2022 Bulgari Bvlgari boasts a Swiss-made, in-house BVL 191 Solotempo caliber (the same movement that powers the Octo Roma above) and a 41 mm stainless steel case with a Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) treatment.
Bulgari Bvlgari Aluminium Chronograph
Reference Number: 103383
Case Material: Aluminium and Titanium
The Bvlgari Aluminium, first launched in 1998, is a rather unconventional watch. Rubber and aluminium for a high-end timepiece? At the time, that was a rather shocking prospect, but actually, it makes a lot of sense: it means the watch is exceptionally light and comfortable, and therefore highly sporty.
This chronograph model employs a contrasting combination of black and off-white for the dial, resulting in a ‘panda’ effect. With just one Arabic numeral – 12 – and positions 3, 6 and 9 being covered by the sub-dials, there is plenty on the dial to keep your attention (we invite you to play a game of ‘spot the date window’).
Powered by the Bulgari calibre B130, based on the ETA 2894, this rather affordable Bulgari timepiece is a robust offering with a 42-hour power reserve and plenty of 90s style.
Bulgari Aluminium Black Dial
Reference Number: 103445
Case Material: Aluminium and Titanium
Chronograph dial too cluttered for your liking? Then how about the Bvlgari Aluminium with a black dial? Removing the sub-dials, reinstating the number 6 and moving the date window to a more conventional 3 o’clock position, this black-on-black-on-silver timepiece looks the business.
If anything, the use of the two beefed-up Arabic numerals helps to keep this watch in proportion – although at 40mm it’s not exactly what you’d call extra-large. Indeed, when viewed from the side it’s surprisingly slim and thanks to the combination of aluminium and a titanium caseback, is remarkably lightweight too.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Sandblasted Black Ceramic
Reference Number: 103077
Case Material: Sandblasted Ceramic
Thought we were done with the Octo Finissimo? Think again. Bulgari’s ultra-thin timepiece is available in an array of materials and finishes, each of which presents a unique take on the octagonal formula.
Take this black sandblasted ceramic model – who doesn’t love an all-black timepiece by the way? – which can also be had in polished ceramic. We’re all about the non-polished matte version, however, which is far more stealthy as it won’t draw nearly as much immediate attention as its ultra-shiny polished cousin.
This model doesn’t get the 100 metres water resistance enjoyed by some of its stainless steel simblngs (instead you get 30 metres) but the same BVL 148 Finissimo calibre can be found beating away inside the 5.5mm ceramic case.
Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon
Reference Number: 103627
Case Material: Platinum
If you’ve got a heavy wallet and need a real statement piece, the Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon might be your thing. It’s a real pieace of haute horlogerie which throws out many of the conventions associated with minute repeaters. For those who need a refresher, a repeater is a complication that chimes the time at the press of a button. A minute repeater specifically chimes the time down to the minute, using separate tones for hours, quarter hours, and minutes.
Minute repeaters are one of the most traditional and complex watch complications – so watches that include them tend to be ultra-conservative in design. Not so with the Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon. Both the case and the dial (which is actually the top plate of the in-house manual winding BVL428 calibre) are designed to maximise sound propagation: in particular, the caseband and back both feature unique cavities designed to further diffuse the sound.
On top of that, the Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon boasts a 72-hour power reserve, a huge freakin’ tourbillon pride of place at 6 o’clock, and is crafted out of platinum (with those caseband and back elements crafted from titanium). Bulgari’s certainly got range.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chrono GMT
Reference Number: 103068
Case Material: Sandblasted Titanium
Rounding out the list of best Bulgari watches to buy is this record-breaker. Another member of the Octo Finissimo clan, the Chrono GMT holds the record for the thinnest chronograph watch in the world. The fact that Bulgari has been able to develop various ultra-thin movements for various Octo Finissimo models speaks volumes of its commitment to haute horlogerie.
Producing the movement for this Chrono GMT – the BVL 318 – is no mean feat. The BVL 318 itself is just 3.3mm thin, taking the title of world’s thinnest chrono movement away from the Piguet Calibre 1180 (3.95mm).
The thinness is possible by way of making the movement rather wide, which forces the case to be bigger too, and in this case, it is 42mm. But when combined with the integrated bracelet and finished in a stunning sandblasted titanium, it’s a watch you’re going to want to show off.
Best Bulgari Watches FAQ
When was Bulgari founded?
Luxury Italian brand Bulgari was founded in 1884 by Sotirios Boulgaris, who later changed his surname to appear more Italian. It was initially founded as a jewellery brand, but expanded into watches in 1977.
How do I tell if a Bvlgari watch is real?
All real Bulgari watches will have the brand name written with the 'V' Roman numeral instead of a 'U', and will be in all uppercase lettering. Despite the brand name including a 'V', it is pronounced 'bull-gahr-ree'.