If you take a look the sum total of all of Bulgari’s offerings in 2021, you’ll agree ‘thinness’, as personified by the award-winning Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar, was the highlight aspect for the brand last year. However, for 2022, the watchmaker seems to be starting out with a different focal point: Chiming watches. For LVMH Watch Week 2022, which starts today, the brand is unveiling two watches – the Octo Roma Emerald Grande Sonnerie and the Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon.
Octo Roma Emerald Grande Sonnerie
Some of us will remember that it was in 2018 that Bulgari had unveiled the Octo Roma Grand Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar, positioned at the time as the brand’s most complicated watch. Grand Sonneries are the epitome of grand complications and pairing it with a perpetual calendar requires several degrees of technical prowess. Add to this hat in the entire universe of haute horology, there are only few watchmakers who can boast of a Grande Sonnerie in their repertoire. Bulgari seems to be furthering that legacy, this time with a completely bejewelled new timepiece, of which only one piece exists.
Let’s first take in what the Octo Roma Emerald Grande Sonnerie looks like. At 44mm, the watch is the same size as the Octo Roma Grand Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar. There is no doubt about its maximalism - set in a white gold case, the dial features 374-baguette cut diamonds, while the bezel and lugs are studded with 72 baguette-cut emeralds; the crown is set with baguette-cut diamonds and one round rose-cut diamond. Given the bejewelled nature of the piece, the workings of the Grand Sonnerie have not been made apparent on the dial - the only functions visible on the dial are the hours, minutes, power reserve indicator and power reserve indicator for the chimes. Given the dominating emerald hue, the strap is a green alligator, with a white gold folding clasp. Flip the watch over, and the mechanism of the watch can be seen through the sapphire caseback.
The Octo Roma Emerald Grande Sonnerie continues Bulgari’s legacy of ‘Sinfonia della Mechanica’ or ‘Symphony of Mechanics’, with a 4-hammers and gongs, that sound the hours, quarters, and minutes. The watch has a Westminster Chime that can be activated on demand by buttons on the side. Powering the watch is the BVL703 automatic winding, tourbillon-regulated calibre that is composed of 732 individual components; the movement takes over nine months to create by one dedicated master watchmaker. The power-reserve for the Grande Sonnerie is 24 hours, and for the Petite Sonnerie is 28 hours. The watch is water-resistant to 30 metres.
The Octo Roma Emerald Grande Sonnerie personifies the best of Bulgari – the Grande Sonnerie coming alive in a bejewelled piece that displays the legacy of the brand to the hilt.
Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon
Last year during LVMH Watch Week, Bulgari had unveiled the Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon, and the new Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon follows in its footsteps in several ways, albeit with material changes and subtle design updates.
The Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon is a 44mm platinum watch, with a blue titanium caseband; its predecessor was DLC-coated titanium with matte finish. Combining the tourbillon function with a repeater, the watch has a openworked dial with blue bridges. The design of the case focuses on sound clarity and rendition, and with that in mind, the caseband is designed to spread as much of it as possible; the three openings on the caseband correspond to the three gongs, thus allowing the sound to exit the chamber. The amplification of the sound is further helped by the fact that the gongs are attached directly to the case body, which helps in sound transmission; the titanium case middle helps in sound diffusion; and the back, hollowed out, and redesigned with a titanium grid, helps in the outward transmission of sound.
The gongs deserve attention in specific. Their craftsmanship, involving a very precise process of being bent and formed by hand, fired, helps them have crystal clear resonance. As a result, note C chimes out for the hours, notes E, D, C for the quarter, and the note E for the minutes. The mechanism is activated by a pusher on the left side of the caseband.
The dial face, as mentioned, is open-worked, with the high-tech carbon-based vacuum-deposition coating responsible for the blue treatment both in the front and at the back of the movement design. An enlarged ‘12’ is another new addition to last year’s design. The case, strapped to a blue alligator leather strap secured by a platinum triple-blade folding clasp, is water-resistant to 30 metres.
The watch is powered by the handwound Calibre BVL428 (same as the carillon last year) that has 432 components and has been developed in-house. The watch has a power reserve of 75 hours. The hammers, gongs, tourbillon cage, and perforated surfaces are made of alternating polished steels, while the mainplate and bridges feature an ALD treatment.
The watch is a limited edition of 30 pieces.
All images: Courtesy Bulgari