Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon Watch Hands-On

Debuted at Baselworld 2018, one of the most interesting high-complication dress watches available today is this limited edition carbon CTP-cased Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon reference 102794. The watch sits alongside the titanium reference 103015 model of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater watch but is certainly the most exotic given its looks and case material. Even as a dress-style watch, Bulgari calls the visual aesthetic of the black-colored CPT material as having a “military pattern effect.”

More interesting for watch collectors is the unique set of specifications and qualities in this watch, which is not only very lightweight given the case and bracelet material, but also because the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is currently the thinnest minute repeater movement in existence. I haven’t checked, but I also believe this watch might be among the most lightweight minute repeater timepieces in existence.

More interesting as a chiming musical watch, is the how the carbon CTP material affects the sounds of the minute repeater complication. If you recall from our original article on the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater, to ensure decent audio volume in such a thin case, the dial of the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater has perforated hour markers (Bulgari calls them “gills”) which allow air and thus sound to move between the dial and movement area.

The carbon case adds a new, very dense yet lightweight material to the mix which actually seems to increase the volume of the minute repeater. Bulgari says that the carbon CTP material results in “excellent chime propagation.” So this could be the ideal minute repeater for someone who likes modern design, very slim profiles, and as much performance as possible given said slim profile. Yea, that is a niche audience but then again, we are talking about ultra-niche high-luxury watches.

As with some other Bulgari watches, powering the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is the in-house made Bulgari caliber BVL 362. Manually wound and operating at 3Hz with 42 hours of power reserve, the movement has the time with subsidiary seconds on the dial as well as the minute repeater complication. The latter is activated via the pusher on the left side of the case. One of the non-carbon CTP pieces of the case is the tiny crown, which is black DLC-coated steel.

What types of sizes are we talking about in this ultra-thin realm of Bulgari watches? The BVL 362 movement is 3.12mm thick – a pretty impressive achievement given that minute repeaters must include (among other parts) a hammer (two of them) and gong (and two of these) system. Space is essential for proper resonance – so in a sort of humorous way, an ultra-thin minute repeater (for a watch movement engineer) is probably an exercise in frustration. “Who are these customers that need a minute repeater and want it so thin? Why must we struggle?!” is what I imagine at least a few of these micro-mechanical engineers saying.

The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon case itself is 40mm wide and just 6.85mm thick. The watch case is only water-resistant to 10m – so that means you can pretty much only get away with washing your hands with it on. The Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon feels incredibly cool on the wrist given its masculine design, lightweight, and haute horology innards. It just isn’t a luxury material in my opinion despite how a lot of brands try to spin carbon.

I do love the material, but it isn’t precious like gold or platinum. It is complicated to produce in this style, and the benefits of carbon are clear – though luxury names that are increasingly using carbon materials might understandably get some backlash from consumers given the premium prices demanded for all this “novelty” and “innovation.” All I’m saying is that consumers should certainly check out carbon-cased watches, but I hesitate to recommend that these materials are worth significant price-premiums.

Good thing that Bulgari prices the carbon CTP version of the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater within a few thousand of the titanium model. The reference 102794 Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon is a limited edition of 50 pieces and has a retail price of $160,000 USD.

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