Bulgari Roma Finissimo
The Bulgari Roma Finissimo is housed in a 41mm stainless steel case, blessed with an incredibly svelte profile. Angus Davies freely admits he usually favours watches endowed with a fulsome physique, however, this slender timepiece has seduced the Lancastrian with its prepossessing looks and exquisitely finished movement.
Everyone seems obsessed about being thin. The merest hint of late-onset ‘puppy fat’ is frowned upon by fashionistas and medical professionals alike. It would appear that a ‘lithe’ torso is very much en vogue.
In the esoteric world of watchmaking, there is a greater acceptance of plumpness. Many alpha males have succumbed to the charms of a sturdy diver’s watch, appreciating its robust physique and no-nonsense legibility.
The world of horology also indulges those calorie averse buyers who appreciate a sylphlike waist. However, the challenge of making an ‘ultra-thin’ watch is that by making the baseplate and bridges thinner, there is an inherent risk that the movement will lack torsional rigidity.
With components such as the train sitting close to neighbouring parts, the merest suggestion of flex can result in wheels fouling other micro-components. Quite simply, an ultra-thin watch presents many challenges which need to be overcome. Personally, I would only consider an ultra-thin timepiece which has been produced by a specialist in the field.
Bulgari, is a Maison possessing incredible horological prowess with a specific expertise in crafting ultra-thin timepieces. While the luxury firm is based in Rome, its extensive watchmaking operations are located throughout Switzerland. Bulgari is a Manufacture, creating its own impressive movements. Furthermore, the brand is an exemplar of vertical integration, with in-house facilities producing dials, cases and bracelets. Be under no misapprehension, Bulgari is a watch brand par excellence.
Image – watchmaker working on Callibre BVL 128
Personally, I usually prefer watches to have a significant thickness and a notable mass. Perhaps it is my working-class origins, but I like to ‘feel the value’ on my wrist. It was therefore a surprise when I casually placed the Bulgari Roma Finissimo upon my arm and suddenly fell for its bewitching looks.
Bulgari unveiled the original Roma in 1975 and over the years it has released a number of models, each with its own personality, but all featuring a bezel adorned with the maker’s nomenclature and sometimes the name, ‘Roma’.
Image – Bulgari Roma digital watch (1975)
In 2015, the luxury marque celebrated 40 years of the Bulgari Roma, releasing several new references, including an impressive tourbillon, aptly named the ‘Finissimo Tourbillon’, the Roma Tubogas, the Bulgari Bulgari Solotempo and, lastly, the Roma Finissimo 40th Anniversary. This latter watch was offered in 18-carat yellow gold, 18-carat pink gold as well as stainless steel. Today, the Roma Finissimo 40th Anniversary is simply called the Bulgari Roma Finissimo, but its truncated name has done nothing to diminish its extraordinary allure.
Image – First Bulgari Roma mechanical watch (1975)
The case material of the chosen Bulgari Roma Finissimo determines the shade of its dial. My preferred model, the steel version, has a glorious black, polished lacquer dial. The hours and minutes are proclaimed with silver-toned hands. These hands prove highly legible but exhibit seemly restraint. Indeed, one of the key characteristics of this watch is that nothing shouts loudly, everything is tastefully discreet.
Each hour is represented with a supremely slender, elongated baton, save for 6 and 12 o’clock which are denoted with long, narrow Arabic numerals. Viewing the batons, numerals and aforementioned hands, evokes thoughts of a tall supermodel with an extended neck and nipped waist. The design language brims with elegance.
Image – Bulgari Roma Finissimo in 18-carat pink gold ref. 102358
A small seconds display is located adjacent 7 o’clock. Its idiosyncratic positioning is inspired and heightens the overall allure of the dial. However, despite its notable style, the indication proves eminently legible.
The case of the Bulgari Roma Finissimo measures 41mm in diameter and has a thickness of 5.15mm. It is slim without appearing malnourished. Personally, I find the dimensions of this watch most agreeable and I hope Bulgari are never tempted to place the watch on a diet as in my opinion it would diminish the model’s superb wrist presence.
Image – two versions of the Bulgari Roma Finissimo in 18-carat pink gold and stainless steel
Every surface of the case is highly polished, delivering a tasteful soupçon of flamboyance. A small black disc embellishes the vertical flank of the crown, matching the black lacquered dial surface and, as result, enhancing the overall cohesion of the design.
The Bulgari Roma Finissimo is presented on a sumptuous black alligator strap, paired with a steel pin buckle. Appraising the strap between the thumb and forefinger and inhaling the aroma of the leather, indulges the senses with tactile delights and luxurious notes.
Bulgari has extensive manufacturing facilities dotted around Switzerland. The Bulgari Roma Finissimo is endowed with the hand-wound Calibre BVL 128. This high-end movement is made in the company’s Le Sentier Manufacture and befits the appellation ‘haute horlogerie’.
Le Sentier is a village located in the Vallée de Joux, a region synonymous with making watch movements and, in particular, complicated and ultra-thin movements. By having a Manufacture in this region, Bulgari is able to draw upon the wealth of talent within its midst.
The Calibre BVL 128 is supremely slender, measuring just 2.23mm but, despite its diminutive waistline, it is imbued with impressive finishing. Four bridges dominate the dorsal view of the movement. They are adorned with Côtes de Genève motif, golden engraved text and sport gleaming bevels. Beyond the spokes of the balance wheel, a sea of pristine perlage can be observed.
Bulgari has chosen to equip the Roma Finissimo with a power-reserve indicator, located to the rear, positioned atop of the movement.
The balance is equipped with a curb adjuster to alter the rate. The frequency of the movement is 28,800VpH (4Hz) and it contains 26 jewels. Once the movement is fully wound it will run autonomously for 65 hours.
As I intimated earlier, I have a predilection for portly watches. Therefore, when I recently visited Bulgari’s prestigious boutique on London’s New Bond Street, I did not anticipate falling for the slender torso of the Roma Finissimo. However, I must confess that it was love at first sight. Once the watch was affixed to my wrist our relationship was consummated.
While some people may describe this watch as ‘ultra-thin’, I think ‘slim’ is a more appropriate term. Clearly this watch is not obese, measuring just 5.15mm in height, however, by being just a couple of extra millimetres thicker than some ‘ultra-thin’ watches, it feels better suited to daily wear and obviates the need for wearing kid-gloves.
A multitude of parts are cleverly housed between the baseplate and bridges. Everything suggests reliability and flawless finishing abounds. Indeed, the Bulgari may possess a slim physique but that does not indicate any lack of strength or intellectual shortcomings. Quite simply, this model blends beauty with a brilliant mind.
- Model: Bulgari Roma Finissimo
- Reference: 102357
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 41mm; height 5.15mm; sapphire crystal to the front and sapphire caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; power-reserve indicator
- Movement: Calibre BVL 128; hand-wound movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 26 jewels; power reserve 65 hours
- Strap: Black alligator strap with stainless steel pin buckle
- Price: £10,500 including taxes (RRP as at 16.8.2019)