Bulgari Octo Chronograph

Angus Davies recently had the opportunity to get “hand-on” with the new Bulgari Octo Chronograph. His in-depth watch review discusses the many attributes of the timepiece which features 110 surfaces and an impressive column-wheel chronograph movement.

This detailed review of the Bulgari Octo Chronograph includes live images and specification details.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

Angles have always been inextricably linked with time. Sundials have utilised the angle and position of the sun to denote the time. Children have been taught about angles in mathematics lessons with a clock face used to aid understanding. The hour angle is used in the equatorial coordinate system to give the direction of a point on the celestial sphere.

Angles and time seem to be soulmates destined to be together forever.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

Looking at the 110 surfaces of the new Bulgari Octo Chronograph, delivered in a mix of polished and satin-brushed planes, I am reminded of the relationship between angles and time. It would seem that Bulgari has explored geometric shapes and the interfacing surfaces to wonderfully reinforce the relationship between angles and time.

The Octo can trace its origins to the late Gérald Genta who, in my opinion, was the greatest watch designer of the modern era. His prolific success is marked by the numerous iconic designs including the Royal Oak, Nautilus, Ingenieur SL and the Bulgari Bulgari. Like many admirers of sports watches, I have huge respect for Monsieur Genta and the legacy he has left for future generations of watch fans to enjoy.

However, without wishing to appear disrespectful to Gérald Genta, Bulgari refined the Octo back in 2012, delivering a crisp dial and stunningly intricate case, fusing circular and octagonal lines with amazing aplomb. The timepiece, whilst still recognisable as the Octo, has a fresh and sharp appearance, typical of the exalted Italian design flair synonymous with the Bulgari name.

This year the brand has provided the press with a pre-Baselworld glimpse of the new Bulgari Octo Chronograph. On seeing the press images, I made a few phone calls and, courtesy of the wonderfully obliging lady in the UK press office, managed to schedule a moment of intimacy with this new watch from the luxury brand.

The dial

I am conscious that as I accrue more grey hairs, I often repeat myself. I hope you will forgive me for saying this oncee again, but, few images in magazines or on websites can ever truly convey the nuances of a watch design. Indeed, this timepiece is absolutely stunning when placed upon the wrist.

The first aspect to arrest your attention is the dial.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

The blank canvas which greets your eyes is adorned with details which seem optimally placed, both in terms of aesthetic appeal and flawless functionality.

The sword-shaped hour and minute hands are faceted and open-worked, majestically toying with light with delightful charm.

Applied hour batons indicate the hours, save for noon where elongated Arabic numerals impart the midnight hour. The batons vary in length and, in common with the numerals at noon, feature a straight brush to their surface which is a telling reminder of the care the brand has exercised with each element of this new model.

The tri-compax layout delivers a harmonious balance to the dial. The subdials at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock are larger in size than the 12-hour chronograph counter positioned at 6 o’clock, forming a V-shape, which follows the contours of the white chapter ring.

A date aperture is positioned between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock. The white text is very legible against the black background and, because the movement is fully integrated, the date disc sits close to the dial surface enhancing ease of read-off.

The case

The upper bezel is circular and satin brushed on its horizontal flank. Interestingly, a lower octagonal bezel with a polished surface peeps around the edge of the upper bezel, reminding the wearer of its comely presence. It is a reoccurring theme throughout the design and is a notable aspect of the composition.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

Whilst the watch is stunningly handsome, I feel a pang of sadness for the team responsible for bringing the design to life. The case is incredibly complicated and intricate, necessitating much effort to bring to fruition. I am sure there have been many sleepless nights in Neuchâtel as the creative minds at Bulgari’s watch atelier, tried to realise the imaginative sketches produced by the design team.

I cannot overstate how complex the case construction is. However, I am pleased the Bulgari personnel persevered as it is fantastic and a worthy successor to Genta’s original design.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

The watch is available in steel or pink gold, with both versions available on a black alligator strap. Ordinarily, I would always favour a timepiece presented on a strap, as I feel straps exhibit a greater warmth than metal bracelets. But, in this instance I am breaking with my conventional stance and advocating the merits of the bracelet version. It is only available on the steel model, but its appearance and fit are superb.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

The Bulgari Octo Chronograph is fitted with an exhibition case back, which reveals the Calibre BVL 328, a movement begging to be admired, such is its obvious beauty.

The movement

The self-winding Calibre BVL 328 is a fully integrated chronograph movement with a frequency of 36,000 vph.

The Calibre BVL 328 is particularly attractive. Moreover, the absence of large bridges allows a superb view of the column wheel and the gear train, with its exquisite circular grained wheels.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

The Côtes de Genève motif depicted on the oscillating mass pays due respect to Swiss watchmaking tradition. The rotor is open-worked improving the visibility of the components beneath.

I often mention in watch reviews my disappointment at seeing watches with a solid case back. One look at the Bulgari Octo Chronograph validates my opinion. The exhibition case back allows an unrestricted view of the movement. The sight is beautiful and openly reveals the mastery of the maison’s crafstmanship.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

Bulgari, whilst respecting traditions, has also embraced cutting-edge know-how. The model is supplied with a silicon (silicium) escapement. The material is anti-magnetic and exhibits low-friction.

Closing remarks

The Bulgari Octo Chronograph manifestly exhibits handsome lines with a case that is magnificently executed. My fingers explored many of the facets of the case and there was no evidence of any sharp edges or any of the 110 surfaces exhibiting anything other than a blemish free standard.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

As well as being achingly attractive, there is much virtue and intelligence housed within the case. The Calibre BVL 328 has an impressive specification and Bulgari has openly disclosed each element of the movement’s psyche. Many of the components are revealed with a notable honesty.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

It does not matter from which angle you view this watch, it delivers a very tempting ownership proposition.

Hands-on with the Bulgari Octo Chronograph (inc. live pictures) - in-depth watch review

Technical Specification

  • Model: Bulgari Octo Chronograph
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 41.5 mm; height 13.07 mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph.
  • Movement: Calibre BVL 328, self-winding movement; frequency 36,000 vph (5 Hz); 31 jewels; power reserve 50 hours.
  • Bracelet: Steel bracelet with steel folding clasp

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