In 2014, Bulgari released the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, the thinnest tourbillon watch in the world. This year, the ambitious brand takes the theme of extreme horological slenderness a step further with the release of the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater, which now claims the title of smallest striking watch on the market.
The minute repeater is, of course, one of the most complex of all horological complications, with only a handful of prestigious brands even possessed of the expertise to make one. Any striking watch, in fact, carries with it several specific construction constraints, and the need for a high level of expertise, to achieve the challenging goal of an intense, crystal-clear chime with a uniform, consistent cadence when the mechanism is activated. In general, a timepiece that can accomplish this feat tends to be on the large side, due to the need for sufficiently generous interior volume for optimal diffusion of the sound within the case, thus ensuring ideal acoustic quality. With the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater, however, Bulgari set out to achieve this “perfect sound” within the smallest possible space. To this end, the brand developed the in-house BVL Caliber 362, which measures just 3.12 mm thick, and created a case whose overall thickness is only 6.85 mm. (Its diameter is 40 mm.)
Bulgari’s expert watchmakers at its manufacture in Le Sentier, Switzerland, rose to the challenge of solving the inherent technical characteristics of a striking mechanism. The first decision made was to use titanium for the case: in addition to being very lightweight, the properties of this low-density metal also proved to be excellent for sound diffusion. Another clever touch was the cut-out hour-markers on the dial (also made of titanium) and cut-out ring around the small seconds subdial, which created openings that serve to amplify the resonance inside the case and thereby optimize the sound effect.
The circular-section gongs directly affixed to the case are individually fashioned and finished by hand throughout the production process. Many separate stages are involved in producing the completed gongs, from preparing and shaping the steel parts to defining the notes and the harmonics. The two hammers are also crafted with meticulous care. The centrifugal strike governor features a total diameter of just 3.3 mm, including its two inertia blocks. The pusher activating the striking mechanism, fitted with an “all or nothing” safety device, is positioned on the case middle at 9 o’clock, and designed to guarantee continuous water resistance to 50 meters. Finally, the power reserve of this 362-piece, hand-wound movement is 42 hours when fully wound.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater comes on a vulcanised black alligator leather strap with a triple-blade titanium folding clasp. It will be issued in a strictly limited 50-piece edition, priced at 160,000 Swiss francs. Below please find some live shots of the watch taken at Baselworld.