In the world of high-end watchmaking, there’s no superlative or achievement more prestigious than the world’s thinnest mechanical watch. Watch brands can wax lyrical about their technological prowess, but there’s nothing tricker or more impressive than making ultra-thin watches.
The last few decades have seen a particularly fierce battle between top watchmakers – chiefly Audemars Piguet, Bulgari, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin – for the title. Up until 2022, it was Piaget that held it with the superb Altiplano Ultimate Concept, which weighs in at a very svelte 2mm thick.
Many thought that would be impossible to trump – but Bulgari has done the impossible. Meet the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra (ref. 103611): officially the world’s thinnest mechanical watch, and unofficially the coolest thing you can wear on your wrist.
How thin is it? 1.8mm. That absolutely trounces Piaget’s record. For perspective, that’s thinner than a 10 Euro cent coin, American nickel or an Australian 20 cent coin. It’s almost two-dimensional. Being crafted out of sandblasted titanium, it’s also incredibly light. To paraphrase Ned Flanders, it would feel like you’re wearing nothing at all. Stupid sexy Bulgari.
The Octo Finissimo Ultra also represents an eighth consecutive year of record-breaking Octo Finissimos for Bulgari. Since 2015, they’ve broken many of the watch world’s most impressive horological superlatives with this now-iconic watch, including the world’s thinnest automatic watch and the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar.
“The challenge of this eighth record was the most difficult to overcome, since we had to break the rules not only in terms of movement design, but also of the case, the caseback, the bracelet and the folding clasp,” Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bulgari’s Product Creation Executive Director explains.
“To achieve this degree of thinness, you not only have to review your way of thinking, but you must also draw upon a wide range of skills, play with multiple materials and adapt to a multitude of new constraints.”
“In this sense, the Octo Finissimo Ultra is unquestionably the ultimate complication in this vast field of possibilities represented by ultra-miniaturisation.”
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Every element of the watch is bespoke and rather extraordinary. The redesigned bracelet is half as thick as previous Octo Finissimo bracelets, for example. Two regulator-style dials tell the hours and minutes, with a smaller running seconds dial cleverly integrated directly on top of a gear-wheel.
Rather than a traditional crown, the Octo Finissimo Ultra has two horizontally placed knobs – one for winding and the other for setting – keeping the watch as thin as possible. There’s so much going on and it’s all pretty mind-blowing.
It also happens to be an incredibly beautiful watch, despite (or perhaps because of) its asymmetrical, form-follows-function design.
You might have noticed that the Octo Finissimo Ultra’s ratchet wheel has a funky design. That pattern, as you may have guessed, is actually a QR code that, once scanned, links to an exclusive NFT artwork which guarantees the authenticity and uniqueness of each example of this groundbreaking watch – a practical and exciting use of blockchain technology that underscores how forward-thinking Bulgari as a maison really is.
In short, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra is an insanely impressive watch. It’s really hard to overstate how impressive, to be honest. Elegant, futuristic and distinctive, it’s the very definition of a ‘grail’.
UPDATE 6/7/22: the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra has actually lost the title of ‘world’s thinnest watch’ to the Richard Mille RM UP-01 Manual Winding Ultraflat Ferrari. More on that watch here.