Certain luxury fashion houses are fixated on their heritage, as though doing so would shield them from the erosion of progress. But the sole dependence on “legacy” and “estate” will not suffice. It’s not enough to just be, you must also matter. One of the brands that wouldn’t think of resting on its laurels is Bulgari, which is seeking to upend conventions with two additions to its Octo Finissimo series.
The products in question are the Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic and Perpetual Calendar models. “CarbonGold” is a mix of high-tech carbon and gold elements first introduced in 1993. Now the maison is outfitting the Octo Finissimo Automatic and Perpetual Calendar models with CarbonGold. When it comes to experimentation with new materials, the maison was among the first to venture into crafting steel jewellery watches before moving on to the use of titanium and platinum. But if you think it’s a simple task of changing up the Octo Finissimo line-up with a mould of CarbonGold material, you’ll be wrong.
Never one to take the easy route, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bulgari’s chief watch designer, saw the need to overhaul the watches from scratch when it came to implementing the new CarbonGold material. “Whenever we work with new materials, we are obliged to start development from scratch,” Stigliani explains. “We had to develop a brand new titanium case insert with lugs and holes for the screws for the case back, but with a different shape. The carbon case, bezel and bracelet came next. It was a challenge for us even after producing the carbon minute repeater.” The carbon cases are adorned with rose gold crowns and carbon dials with matching gold-coloured accents. The case, strap and dial are crafted from exceptionally lightweight, anthracite-coloured carbon with a matte finish. Clean lines border the models, which exude a measured majesty.
Within the remarkable slimness embodies the extraordinary watchmaking expertise of the manufacture. For the Perpetual Calendar, in this new carbon iteration, the classic ultra-thin perpetual calendar complication requires no adjustment until 2100. For the Automatic, there’s an automatic winding, gold bridges and a gold-plated platinum off-centred micro-rotor.
Due to the difficult intricacies of CarbonGold, it took Stigliani and his team three years to develop. But at the end of the day, it is a technical marvel. “One of my obsessions as an industrial designer is things like these that look very simple,” Stigliani adds. “I love the execution, texture, and how unconventionally we played with the material. Everybody knows carbon in the watchmaking industry, but only Bulgari can make such a watch with this kind of thickness, bracelet and movement in carbon and gold.”
It’s not the goal of housing a complication in a slim profile, it was Stigliani’s objective to “enhance the dynamic tension—this unique proposition between having a watch that was, when viewed straight on, very muscular and even aggressive, yet when you turned it on its side, you’d be absolutely surprised to find how thin it was.”
There’s something to be said about Stigliani’s obsession with marrying CarbonGold with the Octo Finissimo. The man came from the school of thought where “beauty is a necessity”.
This is Stigliani’s unconscious search in finding beauty even in the most technical of forms.