If you’re going to spend a princely sum on a timepiece, you probably want something big, heavy, and complicated that won’t go unnoticed on your wrist. Which is why the new Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra is such an odd duck. It’s engineered to disappear on your wrist. The matte grey arm chronometer just claimed the record for the world’s thinnest mechanical watch.
Like digital camera megapixels, vehicular horsepower, or the number of polygons a game console can render on screen in real time, there’s an ongoing war amongst luxury watchmakers when it comes to making mechanical wristwatches. Unlike megapixels and horsepower and polygons, which go up, watchmakers are trying to pack a watch into as few millimetres as possible. That record was held by Piaget, whose Altiplano Ultimate Concept watch impressed the horological community back in 2018 with a thickness of just two millimetres. Four years later, Bulgari has snatched that crown from Piaget’s head with its new Octo Finissimo Ultra, which measures just 1.88 mm thick. For comparison, a standard US quarter is 1.75 mm, and two stacked credit cards comes in at 1.52 mm.
Unlike the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept, which was, as the name implies, just a concept and too frail to be worn and used day to day, Bulgari is actually producing 10 of the Octo Finissimo Ultras, which include a highly visible QR code on the face that links to NFT artworks intended to be used as authentication for each piece.
To shrink everything down that thin, Bulgari’s watchmakers had to integrate all of the Octo Finissimo Ultra’s 170 components into the watch’s case instead of installing the mechanical parts one by one. To make the timepiece strong enough to not bend and flex like a credit card, its 40 mm-wide case is made from sandblasted titanium, while the back is made from tungsten carbide: a material that’s also used to make industrial drill bits.
Unlike a more traditional, perpendicularly mounted crown on the side of the watch, the wearer adjusts the time and winds the spring that powers the mechanical movement with two equally thin thumbwheels located on either side. On a full wind, the Octo Finissimo Ultra has a 50 hour power reserve.
And believe it or not, even with a price tag of around $US440,000 ($610,808) (€400,000), Bulgari will probably have no trouble selling every last one.