At the 2019 edition of the Baselworld Watch and Jewelry Show in Basel, Switzerland, Bulgari yet again walked the walk, making it one of the most talked about (and ’grammed about) brands at the fair.

The Bulgari managed this with its fifth world-record release: the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic. Creating the thinnest ever mechanical chronograph in watchmaking history is no small feat. Shrouding it with a case design that has universal appeal, however, is, especially in a world where web-educated dilettantes often have as much influence (largely in their own minds) as degree-decorated experts.

But according to Bulgari CEO, Jean-Christophe Babin, creating the 3.30mm movement is all part of what the Italian brand is considering to be its modern-day renaissance. “At 3.30mm, it is the thinnest mechanical chronograph on the market, symbolizing the rinascimento of one of the most challenging complications to craft,” said Babin. “Entirely developed in-house, and while thin enough to fit under your shirt, it represents Bulgari’s capability of blending edgy Italian design with ultimate Swiss engineering.”

Indeed, this seems to be Bulgari’s mantra when it comes to developing luxury sport watches. Yet while likely intended to have been created for men, the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic has been just as appreciated by women watch collectors, largely because of its ultra-thin case and lightweight feel.

Aesthetically speaking, the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic appeals to the wearer in the same way some of its predecessors did: a perfectly fitted monochromatic suit of sandblasted titanium in the form of its case, bracelet, and folding clasp, all of which mirror the background of its dial. Its lines are sleek, yet its overall appearance is still quite soft, even with the added touch of darkened hands, numbers, and indexes.

The profile and thinness of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic case (6.90 mm) and bracelet at (Image © Atom Moore)
The profile and thinness of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic case (6.90 mm) and bracelet at (Image © Atom Moore)
A closeup of the top of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic dial (Image © Atom Moore)
A closeup of the top of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic dial (Image © Atom Moore)
Sharp facets of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic case (Image © Atom Moore)
Sharp facets of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic case (Image © Atom Moore)

If this watch were a man, it would be the perfect combination of power and poise, with a personality as light as the timepiece’s overall weight. Technically speaking, however, Bulgari has thrown down the gauntlet, with the only challenger in plain sight being, well, Bulgari itself.

The overall thickness of the case comes in at an almost unrealistic measurement of 6.90mm, which, if this were your average chronograph sport watch, would be relatively unheard of. And as mentioned earlier in this article, that case houses Bulgari’s in-house Caliber BVL 318; a shockingly thin (3.30mm) automatic chronograph movement which was designed using a platinum peripheral rotor.

The decision to use the peripheral rotor played a key role in breaking the world record for thinnest automatic chronograph created to date, but it also added a bit of size to the watch’s overall case diameter, which measures a solid 42mm.

The automatic BVL 318 movement with periphery rotor powering the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic visible through its caseback (Image © Atom Moore)
The automatic BVL 318 movement with periphery rotor powering the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic visible through its caseback (Image © Atom Moore)
The platinum periphery rotor of the BVL 318 movement powering the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic
The platinum periphery rotor of the BVL 318 movement powering the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic

What hasn’t been focused on thus far is that this mechanical marvel of a timepiece is also a GMT watch, which for many watch enthusiasts would be a selling point all on its own. But because the GMT function on this watch appears almost natural from a visual standpoint (the pusher at the 9 o’clock marker seems perfectly asymmetrical with the chronograph-associated pushers north and south of the crown on the opposite side of the case), it can be easily be missed.

Aside from the fact that the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic brings with it all that its name suggests, it also boasts a 55-hour power reserve and 4Hz frequency, is water resistant up to 30 meters, has an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, and, in typical Bulgari fashion, shows off its complete battery of movement finishing through its transparent case back. All in all, a complete package.

The Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic

Technical Specifications

Movement

Self-winding BVL 318 movement; hours, minutes and small seconds; chronograph; second time zone; 4Hz; 3.30mm thin; 55-hour power reserve

Case

42mm sandblasted titanium ultra-thin case; 30-meter water resistance

Strap

Sandblasted titanium integrated bracelet