For the past decade, much of the focus around Bulgari’s offerings in the male timepiece arena has been within the Finissimo collection. And, why wouldn’t it? Famed for its almost impossible level of thinness, the collection has set seven world records and won more than 60 international awards. On a wider level, that showcase of high-end watchmaking and design has successfully earned the Italian jeweller a level of legitimacy in the highly-competitive timepiece market. But that was then, and this is now. And, now, the plans are to use that legitimacy to further develop its more accessible range, the Octo Roma.
The Octo Roma was born in 2016 and had to wait for its moment in the limelight. “For our men’s collection this year the Octo Roma is very much our hero,” says Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin. “We wanted to take a watch that was already one of our best sellers and evolve it into a wider collection that excites people.”
The diversity of the Octo Roma line was showcased virtually at last month’s Geneva Watch Days, where the brand kick-started its evolution with the introduction of the first-ever Octo Roma WorldTimer. Available in both steel and a trendier all-black DLC options, the dial’s design is a sophisticated one built on three rotating rings that display the names of 24 cities across the world’s timezones. “We added some cities, which aren’t typically associated with timezones – like St. Barth’s in the Caribbean – because they add to the glamour and dolce vita that Bulgari stands for.”
Alongside the Worldtimer, the other big statement release in Geneva was the new Octo Roma Papillon Central Tourbillon. Again, housed in a 41mm Octo case, it is an exquisite, and dare we say ‘fun’, piece of watchmaking. At first glance, it looks like a retrograde watch, but differs because rather than snapping back after a rotation, it uses two alternating butterfly hands to display the minutes, while the hours are showcased via a jump hour display. “Octo Roma Papillon Central Tourbillon is an utterly exceptional watch,” says Babin, “based around a central Tourbillon, it has a very distinctive in look, but the design also makes it simple and elegant.”
With new additions to the ‘more affordable’ Octo Roma range an exciting new pivot for Bulgari, it now faces a tricky (but good) problem of what it offers to the watch-buying public. “Sales-wise, our high-end watches for men are growing faster than our regular watches,” says Babin. “In fact, I would say they are outperforming our expectations.” But with that in mind, considering that the establishment of Bulgari as a main contender in high-end watchmaking has begun to pay off, we’d back the brand to navigate the new course that it has set itself – and, in the Octo Roma, it has the right vessel to do so.
BVLGARI, OCTO ROMA WORLDTIMER 41MM TIMEPIECE, $12,750, SHOP NOW