Watch brands are fantastic at many things, but creativity is certainly not one of those. This statement comes without judgment. In fact, for a brand to establish themselves in the luxury segment they need to prevent creative leaps, as big changes would undermine individual steps in the process. This respect to the original designs helps shape the identity of a watch, which is also why a Submariner, Nautilus, or Royal Oak looks pretty much the same whether they were made in 1980 or 2020.
If you, however, are looking for an exciting piece of wrist candy to add to your collection, you may struggle to find something fresh with a conventional watch manufacturer. Instead, you should consider turning to a Jewelry brand. Maybe you should turn to Bvlgari. Just maybe, you should consider the new Octo Finissimo 2020 models. With an updated finish to the ceramic and steel version, they now make one of the most compelling arguments in the ten to twenty thousand dollar range.
The Octo Finissimo collection has made great leaps in its development and gone through what I like to call the “Tesla product cycle”. That is to say that they started with a super high-end products like the original Octo Finissimo in 2014 which was a tourbillon model. They then moved on towards a minute repeater, Chronographs, and recently became much more attainable with time-only models in titanium, and more recently ceramic and steel. Today we will look more closely at the last two, which with the path their ancestors have paved before them are poised to make a mark in the years to come.
First, we will look at the polished ceramic model which retails for $15,600. This watch looks like what the old Rado ceramic watches could have become in an alternate timeline with contemporary designs and respectable movements. The polished ceramic version loses out on legibility through gray numerals on a black dial, but I don’t mind it as it was a necessary tribute for the design language. All things considered I earnestly believe this watch is the best ceramic watch available on the market, whether in this polished version or the matte one.
The satin polished steel version, while on paper very similar to the ceramic one aims to satisfy a completely different customer. While the ceramic version will have to be worth a consideration for anyone who lusts after a watch from this material, the steel model at $11,800 instead looks to make the air a little thinner around the Royal Oak. The watch looks like what the Offshore could have been if they hadn’t decided to inject it with so many steroids.
The use of steel is nothing new for this watch, as there was a sandblasted version made previously. That watch however looks visually very similar to the titanium one, and in my mind fails to be an independent alternative. The satin-brushed finished however changes this narrative completely. It really allows you to appreciate the efforts made to create all these sharp edges, and especially highlights the amazing bracelet and the way it reflects the light.
Usually, with such a cool design from a jewelry brand for a competitive price, you would have to swallow the bitter pill in the form of a weak movement. Instead, we are treated to the in-house BVL 138 movement, which at its time of introduction was the thinnest automatic movement in the world. Unlike most other ultra-thin movements, it has a great power reserve of 60 hours which are kept topped off through a platinum micro-rotor. This BVL 138 really elevates this watch, making it deserving of a sapphire case back, highlighting how the nicely finished movement stretches out all the way to the edges of the case.
Whether a new collection like this will stand the test of time in terms of desirability is an unknown variable that has to be considered if you want to purchase one of these beauties. This factor I found, however, mitigated considering that this is still Bvlgari we are talking. This is no Kickstarter project, but instead one of the most respected brands in the world, meaning that you have a level of brand recognition and long-term servicing prospects. And here comes the best part: unlike some of their competition, you can actually find and buy one of these models with relative ease.