The following article was produced in partnership with Bulgari.
2022 has been one of the most exciting years for watches in a very long time. Maybe it’s because, after two years of being forced into isolation (and therefore two years without the watch world’s biggest trade shows being held in person), watchmakers have wanted to come back with a bang… And Bulgari’s bang has been bigger than most.
The famous Italian luxury house, which has long been considered one of the leading forces in haute horlogerie, hasn’t held back when it’s come to exciting new releases this year. Bulgari kicked off the year in style at LVMH Watch Week in February, where they brought two extremely complex and opulent Octo Roma minute repeaters to the table, shocking and delighting watch fans.
Now, just in time for Geneva Watch Days 2022 – the world’s biggest watchmaking fair celebrating independent watchmakers – Bulgari has pulled the covers off a huge suite of rather radical, delightfully artistic takes on some of their most iconic watches; a total horological smorgasbord of delights.
We take a look at the most exciting Bulgari releases, which easily stand out as some of the most interesting watches of 2022 – high praise in what’s been an exceptionally competitive year of new watch releases.
Octo Finissimo Skeleton 8 Days
The most technically impressive watch of this suite of releases, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton 8 Days, as the name suggests, features an impressive new hand-wound manufacture movement, the extra-fine calibre BVL 199 SK, which has an exceptional 8-day (192-hour) power reserve.
Normally, a manual-wind watch with such a power reserve would be a rather chunky piece of kit… But remarkably, the Octo Finissimo Skeleton 8 Days is only 5.95mm thick – a testament to Bulgari’s expertise in ultra-thin timepieces.
It’s not just ultra-thin, but ultra-cool to look at, too. A fuel gauge-shaped power reserve indicator (like an exotic Italian car) cleverly wraps around the small seconds counter between 7 and 8 o’clock, while the large yet flat mainspring sits opposite at 1 o’clock, providing aesthetic symmetry. The italisied ‘eight days’ below the Bulgari logo also calls to mind high-tech racing machines.
The high-tech movement is contrasted by a classically luxurious 18ct rose gold case and a sumptuous alligator leather strap. Modern, architectural and highly wearable, it’s the perfect fusion of Italian design and Swiss watchmaking excellence.
Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition
Bulgari has long had an affinity for working with Japanese creatives, such as esteemed architect Tadao Ando, who they’ve collaborated with a number of zen garden-like Octo Finissimos, or musician and designer Hiroshi Fujiwara, whose Fragment Design lent its aesthetic to a Bulgari Bulgari limited edition.
Now, Bulgari has teamed up with another Japanese architect, Kazuyo Sejima, on another out-there limited edition Octo Finissimo – but where Ando’s watches have been an exercise in restraint and minimalism, Sejima’s is totally maximalist.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition boasts a mirror-polished steel case, integrated bracelet and dial that’s quite unlike any other watch on the market – it’s extremely striking. But that’s not all. The watch’s crystal is inlayed with a matrix of metallised dots, which refract and play with light in a totally unique and mesmerising way.
At the same time, it’s strikingly minimalist, too, thanks to its almost featureless dial (aside from the small seconds counter, hovering out in the void). The term ‘statement piece’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but that’s exactly what this Bulgari beauty is…
Octo goes for gold
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo story has been one of the most impressive and dramatic in modern watchmaking. This stylish octagonal watch, since its introduction a decade ago, has been the subject of many world firsts in watchmaking, such as the world’s thinnest mechanical chronograph and the world’s thinnest minute repeater.
To celebrate 10 years of the Octo Finissimo, Bulgari has expanding the Octo Finissimo range with new variations in precious metal: the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT in rose gold, and the Octo Finissimo Automatic in both rose and yellow gold.
The former is a particular stand-out and looks simply sumptuous in rose gold. At only 3.3mm thick, this is one of the world’s thinnest chronographs. At first glance, it features a familiar tri-compax chronograph layout, but actually, the counter at 9 o’clock is actually a second time zone indicator; effectively a smaller watch within a watch.
Both the Octo Finissimo Automatic and the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT have handsome brown lacquered dials which work marvellously well with gold. It’s like Italian leather – they ooze with luxury.
Bulgari Aluminium Sorayama Special Edition
Our favourite release from Geneva Watch Days 2022 was this Bulgari Aluminium. Continuing the theme of collaborating with Japan’s best and brightest, this model (as you might have been able to guess) was produced in collaboration with Hajime Sorayama, an illustrator who is famous for his hyper-detailed, “superrealist” aesthetic and signature robot pin-up girls.
It’s no surprise that Sorayama, whose sumptuous chromed-out art celebrates the glamour and sensuality of cars and planes, chose the Bulgari Aluminium: a retro-futuristic, iconically 90s design. This collaborative watch features a perlage-covered dial that resembles fish scales, while also recalling the galvanised textures and details of pre-WWII cars and planes.
Specifically, Sorayama has said he was inspired by the surface of the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane in which Charles Lindbergh made the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight back in 1927. Another fun touch is that the only numeral on the dial is the 2, Sorayama’s lucky number.
Like the Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition, the Bulgari Aluminium Sorayama Special Edition is a clever and considered take on a modern horological icon that perfectly pays tribute to each artist’s vision while highlighting the versatility and timelessness of Bulgari’s designs.
Discover more about Bulgari’s artistic 2022 releases at Bulgari’s online boutique here.