The following article was produced in partnership with Bulgari.
Watches & Wonders, the watch industry’s biggest and most important expo, just took over Geneva. For watch lovers, it was a week in heaven, with all the world’s most important watchmakers jockeying for attention by the crisp, mountain-lined shores of Lac Léman.
Of course, the official show took place in a huge convention centre just by Geneva Airport… But like any big convention, there was plenty of stuff happening outside the show’s halls all around Geneva – and, like any big convention, sometimes it’s those brands and releases that are the most exciting.
Case in point: Bulgari, who stole Watches & Wonders’ thunder by unveiling an exciting new chapter in the evolution of their iconic Octo Roma. With nine new releases across model variants, it’s all about the Octo Roma this year – let’s dive in and take a look.
The sporty new Octo Roma Automatic & Octo Roma Chronograph
The ever-stylish, architecturally-inspired Octo Roma has long been prized by watch lovers for its versatility and unique aesthetic – but 2023’s new mainline Octo Romas ramp that versatility factor up to 11.
First of all, you’ll notice that the Octo Roma now comes on a sporty rubber strap. This not only reflects its 100m of water resistance but also its new quick-change strap system, which makes it a breeze for the wearer to swap out that rubber for a handsome steel bracelet or a more dressy leather strap. Versatility is the name of the game.
You’ll also notice that this new rubber strap matches the Octo Roma’s beautiful new Clous de Paris dial. Also called a hobnail dial, this texture is a hallmark of Swiss haute horlogerie that perfectly matches the stark, octagonal and very Italian case of the Octo Roma. It’s the perfect Swiss-Italian blend – but also gives the Octo Roma an energetic new look.
The standard Octo Roma Automatic is available in blue, white or anthracite dials (we’re particular fans of the latter) with the blue coming with a matching blue rubber strap and the other two with a black strap. All models are available with a stunning Octo thin-link metal bracelet, naturally.
Also new in 2023 is the first ever Octo Roma Chronograph, which similarly comes in either a blue or black Clous de Paris dial (with a matching rubber strap, naturally) with sunray-brushed chronograph sub-counters. The Octo Roma has been crying out for a chrono for ages, so fans will no doubt be stoked to see this one hit boutiques.
Both the chrono and automatic models are some of the sportiest watches we’ve ever seen from Bulgari, and we’re really big fans of all of them.
Next-level Octo Roma high watchmaking
2023 has also seen some super-complex and incredibly eye-catching tourbillon models join the Octo Roma collection.
First, we have the rather sci-fi-looking Octo Roma Striking Papillon Tourbillon and Octo Roma Striking Tourbillon Saphir, both of which feature titanium cases with sapphire case middles and a funky green and black colour scheme.
The Octo Roma Striking Papillon Tourbillon features a central tourbillon – a rare and rather unusual complication that few other watchmakers in recent memory have attempted – combined with a novel time-telling mechanism.
It’s got a digital jumping hour at the traditional 12 o’clock position but what’s really ingenious is how the minute track works. At first glance, it looks like the watch has a retrograde minutes complication, but instead, the watch actually has two minutes hands mounted on an inner disc, which rotate 90º as they pass the 60 minutes mark, so as to not obscure the hour display.
It’s an ingenious and unique solution that saves energy and reduces stress on the watch’s internals compared to a retrograde minutes complication whilst remaining visually impressive. The complication really suits its sci-fi colour scheme, too.
The Octo Roma Striking Tourbillon Saphir has a more conventional time-telling mechanism but a much less conventional movement: it’s completely skeletonised and features a novel winding system with a push-button on the crown that makes the watch feel properly futuristic.
Many skeletonised watches are a bit gauche (and hard to read) but the Striking Tourbillon Saphir is supremely well-executed and legible all at once. The armatures of the movement form hour markers, with big bars of lume gracing their tops. At the same time, the skeletonised movement and huge amount of sapphire make the tourbillon at 6 o’clock appear to float. It’s really something.
Speaking of skeletonised watches, the Octo Roma Precious Naturalia features the same skeletonised movement as the Striking Tourbillon Saphir – but goes in a more traditionally luxurious direction. Instead of sci-fi lume and sapphire crystal, the Precious Naturalia features tiger’s eye inserts atop its movement and its armatures as well as sandwiched in the case middle, all housed in sumptuous rose gold.
The final watch in the collection is one for women: the Octo Roma Precious Tourbillon Lumière. Another skeletonized piece, its floating diamond-encrusted minute track, punctuated every five minutes by a ruby, frames an elegantly hand-finished tourbillon movement. Its case is entirely paved – bezel, case middle, lugs and crown – with diamonds. Of course, Bulgari is a jeweller after all…
The Octo Roma has long been one of Bulgari’s most versatile and alluring watches. These new references – both the high watchmaking wonders and the sporty everyday wearers – demonstrate how Bulgari deserves to be in any serious conversation about luxury watches.
Find out more about the Octo Roma collection at Bulgari’s online boutique here.