This feature has been produced in partnership with Bulgari.
Many of the world’s most famous luxury fashion houses make watches, but most of their offerings aren’t very impressive. They’re fashion accessories; status symbols – not serious pieces of watchmaking.
Bulgari is a notable exception. No other luxury house has invested as much in watchmaking as the Roman brand, who has quickly carved out a reputation as one of the leading forces in haute horlogerie bar none. In particular, Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo line 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.
Speaking of minute repeaters, Bulgari has kicked off 2022 with a bang at LVMH Watch Week, unveiling a boatload of impressive high watchmaking creations – including two incredibly innovative and exceptionally luxurious minute repeaters that reaffirm Bulgari’s status as an innovator and disruptor.
First up, we have the new Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon (ref. 103627), 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.
Bulgari are normally masters of subterfuge – one only has to think about the elegantly concealed dials of the Serpenti Misteriosi watch family – so to see the opposite approach taken with this watch is rather surprising and refreshing.
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). A 30-piece limited edition, it’s an incredibly impressive and sumptuous watch that reminds us that Bulgari isn’t playing around when it comes to high watchmaking.
If a platinum, skeletonised, limited-edition tourbillon minute repeater wasn’t luxurious enough for you, Bulgari also unveiled a second minute repeater: the piece unique Octo Roma Emerald Grande Sonnerie (ref. 103553). Bulgari started life as a jeweller, and this watch demonstrates that while they’ve invested much in their watchmaking capacity, they haven’t forgotten how to bling something out.
Set with 446 baguette-cut Zambian emeralds plus diamonds totalling over 30 carats, crafted from 18ct white gold and mounted on an alligator-leather strap, the Octo Roma Emerald Grande Sonnerie is luxury personified. Despite the sheer number of jewels, it’s rather tastefully executed: the angular, bold case of the Octo Roma the perfect canvas for such an array of gems.
It’s not just a pretty face, either. The BVL703 automatic winding, tourbillon-regulated calibre is actually even more complex than the calibre that powers the Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon – indeed, it’s Bulgari’s most complex movement to date. Its Grande Sonnerie mechanism sounds the hours, quarters and minutes, and the watch has a harmonious Westminster chime that can be silenced or activated on demand by the side buttons.
Bulgari is one of only a handful of watchmakers capable of producing such a complex movement; it’s a real triumph. Combine that with the extravagant array of jewels that encrusts the Octo Roma Emerald Grande Sonnerie and you’ve got what can only be described as the pinnacle of modern watchmaking.
Discover more about the Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon and the Bulgari Octo Roma Emerald Grande Sonnerie at Bulgari’s online boutique here.