Bulgari Octo L’Originale Chronograph

Recently launched in Geneva, the Bulgari Octo L’Originale Chronograph fuses an impressive column-wheel chronograph movement with a new, lightweight case. Angus Davies reviews this watch, pointing out its many attributes.

This detailed review of the Bulgari Octo L’Originale Chronograph includes live images, specification and pricing.

Bulgari Octo L’Originale Chronograph with column-wheel chronograph movement and silicon escapement

Significant weight is an undesirable characteristic. Obesity in adults can result in heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Aeroplanes are frequently made of strong, lightweight materials in order to fly significant distances. Formula One cars employ carbon fibre, titanium and other space-age materials to achieve podium success. Quite simply, low mass is preferable to excessive weight.

In the watch industry, titanium has been embraced by several brands. While the material is challenging to work with, it does confer several benefits. Titanium’s low mass enhances wearer comfort. In addition, the material is hypoallergenic, incredibly strong and corrosion resistant.

Bulgari has recently unveiled two new versions of its Bulgari Octo, each presented in matt titanium. The Octo L’Originale is a three-handed watch endowed with an automatic Manufacture movement, the Calibre BVL 191 Solotempo. The second watch, the Octo L’Originale Chronograph, has a column-wheel chronograph movement with a silicon escapement. I have a penchant for chronographs and therefore felt especially drawn to this latter model.

The dial

The matt grey dial harmoniously blends with the similarly hued titanium case. The dial area is framed with an octagonal minute track, a shape which is repeated on many areas of the case.

Bulgari Octo L’Originale Chronograph with column-wheel chronograph movement and silicon escapement

A triumvirate of subdials occupy the central area of the dial. The three subdials consist of a 30-minute chronograph register, a 12-hour chronograph register and a small seconds display. A date display is also positioned at 04:30.

Hours and minutes are proclaimed with open-worked Dauphine hands. The applied baton-shaped hour markers feature slanted edges, following the contour of the minute track. At noon, Arabic numerals supplant batons.

The central chronograph seconds hand features a counterweight. It circumscribes the minute track which is marked with integers consistent with the frequency of the movement (5Hz).

The case

The titanium case measures 41mm in diameter but appears larger when worn owing to its intricately shaped case. Indeed, the case comprises of straight edges, diagonal lines and circular forms.

Bulgari Octo L’Originale Chronograph with column-wheel chronograph movement and silicon escapement

When Bulgari unveiled its first Octo in 2012, I was left dumbfounded. Its complex case shape featured 110 facets, each necessitating protracted machining. The cost of producing an Octo case must be significantly greater than making a conventional round case. Now, the Swiss watch company has crafted the Octo case in titanium, a material which is notoriously challenging to work with. The obstacles Bulgari has overcome in order to create this latest version of the Octo should not be underestimated.

The bezel incorporates a tachymeter scale, proving very useful when determining the speed of an object over a known distance. The crown nestles between the shoulders of a crown protector. It features two rows of knurling encircling its form and an insert gracing the vertical flank.

Bulgari Octo L’Originale Chronograph with column-wheel chronograph movement and silicon escapement

Eight pentagonal bolts hold the case-back in position. At the centre of the case-back, a pane of sapphire crystal affords sight of the self-winding movement within. Interestingly, the case-back is not flat, owing to an octagonal form protruding from the case. Surprisingly, this protruding component does not impose upon the wearer’s wrist nor mar wearer comfort.

The movement

The Calibre BVL 328 Velocissimo features a high-frequency (5Hz), column-wheel chronograph movement with a silicon escapement.

Bulgari Octo L’Originale Chronograph with column-wheel chronograph movement and silicon escapement

A key benefit of a high-frequency movement is enhanced precision. This notable precision is not limited merely to static conditions but also applies when the watch is subjected to ‘real-life’ conditions. Few brands offer high-frequency movements owing to the additional technical challenges they present. Once again, Bulgari has clearly not shied away from such challenges.

Pressing the push-pieces yields a silken action. When the central chronograph seconds hand is reset, it lands on zero precisely without any noticeable wobble. Furthermore, when actuated, the central chronograph seconds hand departs smoothly without any hint of shaking. The reason for this impressive performance relates to the column-wheel, visible via the exhibition case-back.

The silicon escapement embraces cutting-edge know-how. Silicon is not affected by magnetic fields and it is not vulnerable to corrosion, two attributes which are highly appreciated in the sphere of watchmaking. Furthermore, silicon has low-friction properties which mitigate wear and reduce energy consumption.

Beyond its functional excellence, the movement is enriched with impressive finishing. Indeed, chamfering, Côtes de Genève motif, circular graining and blued screws stand testament to the no compromise creation of this movement.

I am delighted to report that Bulgari has not covered the movement with oversized bridges, choosing to reveal many of the wheel and levers for the delectation of the wearer.

The movement contains 31 jewels and has a power reserve of 50 hours.

Closing remarks

The contemporary styling of the Bulgari Octo L’Originale Chronograph is accentuated with the titanium case treatment. The numerous facets of the case and the interplay of round forms and straight edges augments the modernity of this horological offering.

Placing the watch upon the wrist proves highly agreeable. The size and case shape accord an ergonomic union with the arm. Furthermore, the use of titanium, a hypoallergenic material, should prove helpful for those would-be wearers with sensitive skin.

Beyond the notable style of Bulgari’s products there is tangible substance. This company makes its own cases, dials, bracelets and movements. It is an exemplar of vertical integration.

The luxury maison has expended much effort in crafting the complex case shape. In addition, the chronograph movement is beautifully decorated and features both a column-wheel and silicon escapement. 

This handsome timepiece is no technical lightweight but it does fulfil the ubiquitous desire of those individuals seeking a featherweight torso.

Further information

Technical specification

  • Model: Bulgari Octo L’Originale Chronograph
  • Case: Titanium; diameter 41mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back; water resistant to 10 ATM (100 metres)
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph; tachymeter scale
  • Movement: Calibre BVL 328 Velocissimo; Self-winding movement; frequency 36,000 VpH (5Hz); 31 jewels; power reserve 50 hours
  • Strap: Leather and rubber strap with folding clasp in DLC-coated steel
  • Price: £8,750 including VAT (RRP as at 6.3.2018)

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