For this year, the Italian fashion brand has updated its signature Octo family with a beautiful Bvlgari Octo Chronograph automatic wrist watch. With its extremely complex-looking body featuring as many as 110 surfaces that are alternately machine-brushed and polished, this gorgeous timekeeper makes your average “sporty” chronograph look like a dull and chunky piece of metal that also happens to have a movement inside.
Unlike their earlier Bulgari Diagono Ceramic Chronograph that was released back in 2012 and featured a refinished ETA caliber, this new timekeeper is powered by a much more (I would even dare to say light years more) advanced Caliber BVL 328 self-winding movement. Based on a Zenith mechanism, this column-wheel chronograph beats at 36,000 semi-oscillations per hour and sports a high-tech silicium escapement, which is both extremely lightweight and antimagnetic.
As you can see on the photos, the mechanism is nicely decorated. Besides the usual circular graining on some of its surfaces, there are also finely executed vertical Geneva stripes on its skeletonized oscillating weight. Clearly influenced by Zenith designs, the mechanism matches the complex shape of the body really well.
As usual for the brand, the gadget features a clean, easy to read dial that seems to be finished with black lacquer that provides enough contrast for the facetted hour markers and dauphine-shaped hands that are available either in rose gold or rhodium-plated variations. The lack of luminous substance on the elements may be a problem for some people, but I am okay with it.
Like many recently introduced watches, the 2014 Bvlgari Octo Chronograph comes in a relatively compact case, which is available both in rose gold and in high-quality stainless steel. It measures only 41.5 millimeters in width and is just 13 millimeters high, which makes the watch suitable for almost any grown-up who happens to have enough money in his wallet to finance such a deal.
Some people may find overall styling of this piece laconic to a point of being sterile. Perhaps, the main problem of the Octo Chrono is the abundance of mirror polished surfaces and lack of colors: together with the lacquered black dial, they make the timekeeper look like it completely lacks soul. The version of the watch that is crafted from a rose gold alloy partially mitigates the problem, although I am not sure whether I actually like the price of this solution.
On the other hand, if you are not taken aback by lifeless coldness of the version in steel, congratulations: you have a chance to own a beautifully designed timekeeper that nicely combines a unique styling with a high quality movement. What else would one ask from a piece like this?
Pricing is still to be revealed, but it is already clear that the version in 18-carat rose gold body will be pretty expensive (probably, around €20,000 or more), but the one in stainless steel will possibly be more or less affordable: or, at least, as affordable as a Bvlgari watch can be.*
* UPDATE ON PRICING: it has just been revealed that the version in 18-carat gold body will retail for $29,000 USD. This looks like a pretty much standard price given its size and weight. The stainless steel variety, however, seems to be greatly overpriced with its MSRP set at $11,000. Not sure whether the choice of movement actually justifies the premium: a similar Zenith chronograph powered by the same El Primero caliber would only set you back by less than $9000 if you decided to get the watch from your local authorized dealer.
See also: Bvlgari Octo Quadri-Retro Chronograph
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 3.5/5
Bvlgari Octo Chronograph Automatic watch specification
Price: $11,000 (MSRP, stainless steel case) / $29,000 (MSRP, 18-carat rose gold alloy case)
Movement: Automatic, Bulgari caliber BVL 328 (base Zenith El Primero), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 31
Movement frequency: 36,000 vph
Power reserve: 50 hours
Movement decoration: Rhodium-plated, polished screws, Geneva stripes, skeletonized oscillating weight
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, column-wheel chronograph
Case material: Stainless steel / 18-carat rose gold
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case, polished black ceramic insert
Case shape: Octagonal
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 41.50 mm
Case height: 13.00 mm
Lug width: No data
Dial: Black, glossy
Hour markers: Rose gold or rhodiumed (matching tone of the case)
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Steel bracelet or black alligator leather strap with folding clasp in 18-carat rose gold or steel
Case back: Sapphire