Do you think this Bvlgari Octo looks chubbier than usual? And wait, aren’t they all called Finissimo? That’s a question that many younger enthusiasts will be asking themselves after this introduction, so let me enlighten you. The original Bvlgari Octo made its debut in 2012 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The Finissimo, however, debuted in 2014 with a rather delicious tourbillon. These days, the OG Bvlgari Octo can be found pre-loved for between 3,000 and 4,000 euros. Does it even matter that it’s no Finissimo?
The enigmatic shape started with the Gérald Genta Octo, the achingly cool Bi-Retro from the mid-2000s being a prime example. After co-branding the Octo models for a few years, in 2012, Bvlgari restyled the case and launched an entirely new range of three-hand watches, later followed by chronographs. This original Bvlgari Octo (eventually named the Octo Solotempo) was a carefully fettled and slightly sharper version of the already architectural case. The timing was perfect with Genta love on the rise, and it marked a turnaround for the Bvlgari brand.
Separating the original and the Finissimo
Today’s Octo range has no less than 41 references on the Bvlgari homepage. If you don’t count the Octo Roma models with their slightly compromised shape, the entry ticket to the collection is the steel Finissimo S. It retails for €13,500 with a 40mm case that comes in at 6.4mm slim. The original Bvlgari Octo, however, has a diameter of 41.5mm and a thickness of 10.55mm. Yes, the original Octo is still rather slim in its own right, see? Obviously, for the full-fat (well, slim) experience, I would recommend finding an example on the sleek, impossibly broad bracelet. But it’s a light wrist-hugging experience on the black alligator strap, so that is a very good option as well.
Italian but Swiss
With the acquisition of the Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta brands in 2000, Bvlgari got their manufacturing facilities in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Sentier, and Saigenlegier in the Vallée de Joux. Revisiting this part of Bvlgari’s history does and should make a few of us feel a pang of a guilty conscience, as this is as Swiss as watchmaking gets. Was it the ostentatious style of the logo-peppered Bvlgari Bvlgari watches from the early ’00s or the brand’s equal provenance in Haute Joaillerie that put you off? Cartier has the same soul, but perhaps its French elegance has swayed the masses. Then again, the Pasha is more excessive than a Bvlgari Bvlgari in 18K gold, so go figure.
Why go for the original pre-owned Octo?
Find the right Octo Solotempo, and you’ll have exceptional value for money on your wrist. While I love the slim elegance of the Finissimo in its many guises, the original 10.55mm case has, for lack of a better word, a more “palatial” feel. It’s as if the Parthenon is your timepiece, with each of the 110 facets ready to catch the light. The Octo name comes from the mid-slice of the bezel with its eight rounded sides, and compared to today’s ultra-thin models, you get a clearer Genta vision. His creations were pure audacity for the wrist, and the blend of a clean-cut, facetted body topped by a rounded polished octagon and a wide brushed bezel shouldn’t work. But it still gels while emanating that retro yet modern vibe, and it’s a very Italian take on Haute Horlogerie.
Unlike the matte or sunray Finissimos, the original Octo’s deep black lacquer dial is a classic take on formal elegance. There is also a greater feeling of depth due to the thickness of its indices and 12 and 6 numerals. I do love the Finissimo, but the dial’s bling factor is turned down to keep it thin. Here you don’t get the cheeky small seconds at 8 o’clock, but the lacquer work more than makes up for it. Under the octagonal case back lies the BVL 193 movement with a very decent (for 2012) reserve of 50 hours. And with savings of close to €10,000 from the €13,500 sticker price of the Finissimo S, this original Octo is not exactly a hard sell. Plus, with the Finissimo keeping its stellar trajectory, I’m betting the value will go only one way from here.
I’m not stretching the truth by claiming that a few of you have forgotten about the original Bvlgari Octo already. And that, my dear Fratelli, is exactly why it’s one of the market’s best-kept secrets.
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Featured image source: U-collection GINZA