Bulgari’s flat world comes to Chennai


The Italian luxury brand makes a stop as it takes its ultra-thin Octo Finissimo watches to key Indian cities

The Italian luxury brand makes a stop as it takes its ultra-thin Octo Finissimo watches to key Indian cities

Back in March at the Geneva Watch Fair, Italian luxury brand Bulgari launched the world’s thinnest mechanical watch. The Octo Finissimo Ultra. A super-refined dress watch, only 1.8 mm thick, it came with a QR code engraved on the barrel’s ratchet wheel, offering access to exclusive NFT artwork. Much was said about the finesse with which the BVL Caliber 180 was built directly into the watch’s tungsten carbide caseback. And about the recessed dials and perceived depth of the watch. So when Bulgari organised a private showing earlier this week at ITC Grand Chola’s Tranquebar, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the famed Octo collection, some clients lined up to get a closer look at this impossibly flat beauty. Unfortunately, with only 10 pieces made and all sold out, that wait may continue into 2023. When another version is rumoured to be launched.

That said, this discreet ‘pop-up’ organised by luxury watch retailer Helvetica included the other ultra-thin Octo rockstars, led by the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar. A record-breaker from last year (the caliber BVL 305 is only 2.75mm thick) with a retrograde date display, the titanium version is reportedly the most popular timepiece in the series in the country. This despite a 12-month waiting period.

Movement club

Osman Abdul Razak and Teerath Doshi of Helvetica with Zahir from Bulgari
| Photo Credit: RK

With Bulgari setting records in ultra-thin watchmaking since 2014, this Octo Finissimo showing did have the movement nerds in attendance. According to Teerath Doshi, director, Helvetica, collectors for mechanical watches in the city are still mostly men with just a couple of women joining the club. The growing interest in watches, however, has Doshi readying to launch yet another luxury watch destination in Chennai. Meanwhile, menswear specialist Osman Abdul Razak, who took the elegant Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater for a spin that afternoon, shared plans to curate a selection of vintage watches from various brands to cater to this audience.

Serpenti fix

Rose gold seven-coil Serpenti watch bracelet

Rose gold seven-coil Serpenti watch bracelet

Since you can’t have a Bulgari showcase without the iconic Serpenti, a corner was devoted to bestsellers like the double coil diamond and ruby Serpenti and the extravagant rose gold seven-coil Serpenti watch bracelets. Would the latter have takers in Chennai, I wondered. The team seemed to think so but were more optimistic about the next leg of their journey: Hyderabad.

After mostly virtual watch sessions during the pandemic and online purchases (Bulgari added e-commerce clients from Bhubaneswar and Hubli in the last two years), the Roman jeweller is creating the right amount of buzz before the third edition of Geneva Watch Days begins on August 29. Initiated by Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin to address festive shopper – ahead of China’s Golden Week, Diwali, Christmas, and New Year – it will feature 30 watch brands, including Breitling and De Bethune. As for the world’s thinnest watch, just months after Bulgari Ultra claimed that title, Richard Mille in collaboration with Ferrari introduced the RM UP-01 Ferrari. At 1.75mm in thickness, it proved that the watchmaking industry is always up for a challenge.

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