The latest ultra-thin watch from Bulgari, this time a unique piece in the form of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marbledesigned for the Only Watch 2023 auction, is undoubtedly an epic and spectacular watch release of the 2020s.
Bulgari fans will know how proud the businessis of its Italian roots – the company was founded in Rome in 1884, where it is still located today, and Roman cultural history has provided inspiration for many of its watch and jewelrydesigns. This latest Octo is no exception.
The color green marble is commonly linked with architecture and art, but the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble watch is not made of solid marble, but rather is covered with a thin layer of it.
The green marble used for this watch's case, dial, and bracelet is called Verde Alpi, and it comes from the Aosta Valley, a natural Alps crossing between Switzerland and Italy.
That is an appropriate source given the watchmaker's active presence in both countries — we have visited its fully integrated watch movement, case, bracelet, and dial manufacturers here — but the brand claims it was chosen for its aesthetic properties as well: "Its dominant color [green] in nature evoking abundance, growth, and energy, is offset with white veins, recalling the serpentines of alpine forests and snowy peaks."
On a more personal level, I'd say that a Bulgari watch in marble should have existed, and I'm curiously thrilled that it finally does, even if my odds of ever handling it are as slim as the watch itself. Maybe at the Geneva Watch Days at the end of August.
Bulgari states that over five years of research and "untold hours of painstaking work" were required before the front and sides of each link could be set with a sliver of marble, leaving just the inside surface (nearest to the wrist) in black DLC titanium.
Marble was first used by Bulgari in 1934 when the legendary architect Florestano Di Fausto enlarged and restored the Bulgari flagship boutique in Rome's Via dei Condotti, where it still stands today. (It was refurbished in marble again in 2014, and it is well worth a visit if you are ever in Rome.)
Marble has held a distinctive place in the history of art, across continents and cultures, from ancient Greece to Italy to Mughal architecture in India.
Italy has contributed decisively to this fixation, as the Italic Peninsula’s artists and architects who shaped this material left their eternal imprint on European culture and history can attest — such as cathedrals of Pisa, Siena, and Florence, or Michelangelo’s David. Marble was first imported during the Roman conquests — from Numidia (today’s Tunisia), Greece, and Egypt — and then extracted closer to the capital of the Empire.- Marble
It's a beautiful material, to be sure, but it's not something you'd expect to find on a watch. A dial, perhaps, but not entirely covered in a stone better known for monumental monuments and entire structures.
(In fact, green marble pillars on historic churches and other structures are sometimes "wrapped" in the material rather than being solid marble.)
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble, whose octagonal design is directly inspired by the geometric motifs of Rome's Pantheon, responds exceptionally well to this material, though it also looked impressive (and hysterical) when brought to a complete and absolute mirror polish with the Sejima Edition, which we covered hands-on here.
The Octo Finissimo case and all 110 facets had to be covered with a thin veneer of marble (0.4 to 0.5mm thick), each a tiny and delicate sliver of marble that was carefully matched to those on the nearby surfaces to give the impression that the entire watch was milled from a single block.
Bulgari asserts that the bracelet "no doubt proved the most delicate part; together with the case of the watch, the work took about 190 hours to complete."
Each marble slice is delicately placed on each link of the bracelet, with a three-dimensional element covering both the top and sides of the link, leaving just the inside surface of the bracelet in black DLC titanium.
The dial is the thickest, if that's a word, with a 0.6mm-thick wafer of marble on top and a tourbillon cut-out at 6 o'clock.
Bulgari's BVL268 manufacturing caliber is housed within the 40mm-wide marble-covered black DLC titanium casing. This in-house designed and constructed movement has a 52-hour power reserve, a 3Hz operating frequency, and a flying tourbillon.
Bvlgari's Only Watch 2023, The Marvelous Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon in Marble!
It is only 1.95mm thick. Of course, the package is one-of-a-kind, and it's covered in green marble for good measure. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble watch will be auctioned off at the Only Watch 2023 auction in Geneva on November 5, 2023. More information is available on the brand's website.