Review: Bvlgari Octo

We test the new Bulgari Octo for 14 days just before its 2012 release in Asia. Despite an unconventional design, the watch makes an excellent dress watch but is robust and flexible enough to work for daily use

Some watches win you over at first glance; something about the shape of the case is appealing, seductive even. To use a non-watch analogy, this is sort of the feeling one has upon seeing a Mercedes-Benz Gullwing or a pair of John Lobb shoes. To push the analogy even further, it is even like Humphrey Bogart's legendary meeting with Lauren Bacall on the set of To Have and Have Not - love at first sight.

The new Bulgari Octo watch has this same feeling or quality to it. When Bulgari asked us if we would like to review the watch and get a good feel for it over two weeks, we jumped at the chance. This sort of review is new for us, hence we shall not be going into the details of the manufacture movement and how it works. First of all though, we suggest getting acquainted with the watch, with a bit of information from the press release.

Review Bulgari Octo 3

The presentation box from Bulgari, standard for non-high complications or special editions. The ribbon is also standard

The Facts

The Octo is a simple three-hand watch with date, not much mystery there. The seconds hand is central and the date is shown via a window at 3 o'clock. Hands and date are on the same axis. Bulgari has gone to great lengths to produce a complex case and paired it with a simple dial. The three-part case (bezel, middle and caseback) has a total of 110 facets, which are either polished or brushed; even the 10 hour markers are facetted. It is worth noting that these facets are quite often rounded off gently but sometimes end in angles as steep as 90 degrees. 

With a case this complicated (it requires hand-finishing), the new Bulgari Octo watch is set to become a new pillar of Bulgari's watches for men. The watch comes with a standard alligator strap but the version we had for this story was in simple cow leather.

All September's Parties

Wearing the Octo to all the usual media events in September, including the Formula One parties had the desired effect: people took notice.

With a watch like this one, from a brand like Bulgari, you want to command the gaze of casual onlookers. The shape of the Octo, basically an ingenious octagonal base and profile married to a round face that frames an octagonal flange, lends itself to curious glances; those who like round watches will be just as intrigued as those who prefer shaped watches. The model we had was in stainless steel but we imagine the effect will be amplified in gold; the watch is also available in 18k rose gold.

Review Bulgari Octo 4

The unboxing process, so to speak, is a key part of the fine watchmaking experience. There's nothing like that feeling of anticipation...

Of course, an illustration of this appeal is needed. At a gathering of watch collectors, enthusiasts and connoisseurs, the watch was roundly praised, so to speak. Basically, the shape was a winner and some even suggested that this new pillar of Bulgari's watch collection was its most handsome ever. High praise indeed and it is unfortunate that we cannot name names!

Collectors will recognize the Octo as an evolution of a case made famous by the late Gerald Genta for his own brand, which was subsequently acquired by Bulgari (2000) and, relatively recently, absorbed as part of the brand's regular offerings under the Bulgari name (2010). Indeed, this octagonal shape loomed large in the great man's work, including in the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

Review Bulgari Octo 5

As is evident here, the Bulgari Octo is a big and brash watch but it still doesn't dominate small wrists


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