Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire's weekly column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world since March 2020.
Bulgari’s 10-year assault on high watchmaking under its watchmaking creative director Fabrizio Buonamassi Stigliani began in 2012 with the launch of the first of a string of Octo Finissimo watches, so named for their play on the geometry of the octagon, a polygon central to the architecture of ancient Rome, Bugari’s home. The “Finissimo” part gives a clue to the technical thrust of these Bulgari watches, with cases—and the movements that drive them—made ever thinner, requiring new feats of miniaturization. Of the Finissimo editions created in the last decade, eight earned world records, while the Titanium Perpetual Calendar won in 2021 the top prize at the Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Geneve, watchmaking’s equivalent of the Oscars.
The Octo Finissimo Sejima that debuted during this week’s Geneva Watch Days—a kind of independent, late-summer update from key watch brands—is part of Bulgari’s celebration of a decade of the Finissimo. It’s a special, limited-edition collaboration (360 pieces) with leading Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima. Winner of the prestigious Pritzger architecture prize in 2014 and, earlier, the Venice Architecture Biennale of 2004, Sejima is known for her clean, geometric designs, often featuring shiny, metallic surfaces. All of which made the interweaving planes of Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo a no-brainer as a creative playground.
Unlike any other Octo Finissimo, the steel watch and integrated bracelet are polished to a mirror finish, and the case features a minimal, reflective dial made from sapphire crystal and decorated with a pattern of tiny etched metallic dots. The dial is stripped of markings, with a simple two hand center display and a small seconds at 7 o’clock. The 40mm watch is just 6.4 mm thick, giving a wafer-thin effect on the wrist. Inside beats a movement that’s just 2.23 mm thick, the in-house BVL 138, with a platinum automatic micro-rotor (being denser than other precious metals, platinum provides more oomph per ounce). The overall effect is something Darth Vader might buy for himself as a wedding present. He would be onto a good thing too, as the price—even at a hefty $14,100—of this very special edition is just $1,200 above the existing steel editions with black or blue dials that were introduced back in 2020.
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