The $440K Octo Finissimo Ultra is the world's thinnest mechanical watch
Italian luxury brand Bulgari has released what it says is the world's thinnest mechanical watch. Called the Octo Finissimo Ultra, it is the latest in the company's Octo collection of watches and has a thickness of a mere 1.8 mm (0.07 in).
Haute horlogerie is more than just a question of banging out a string of insanely expensive pieces of wind-up jewelry. Many times, the appeal comes from watchmakers pushing the limits of what can be done with a small mechanical movement. This not only has an aesthetic value, but also pushes real engineering boundaries.
For the Octo Finissimo Ultra, Bulgari had to come up with innovations in watch glass assembly and design elements involving the barrel structure, oscillator module, differential display, modular structure, bracelet, bimetal case, middle-mainplate-caseback, along with software that produced eight patents.
The result of three years of research and development by Bulgaria and avant-garde movement development specialist Concepto, the Octo Finissimo Ultra's extremely thin design required not only rethinking the watch itself, but also the titanium bracelet links and the folding clasp so they would remain proportional.
For the watch itself, the thinness required a rigid design to protect the movement. To achieve this, the engineers used tungsten carbide for the caseback and titanium lugs. To save space while maintaining strength, the titanium case and the dial were integrated into the BVL Calibre 180 movement to support the 170 parts.
Despite the cramped conditions, the Octo Finissimo Ultra still manages to fit a manually-wound barrel with a 50-hour power reserve. On the barrel of the ratchet wheel is an engraved QR code that, when scanned by the owner, opens online materials including feature interviews, making-of videos, a 3D virtual tour of the watch and access to an exclusive NFT artwork that is a guarantee of the watch's authenticity.
In addition, certain components had to be able to carry out as many as four functions instead of one. The thinness also meant that a traditional vertical stem wasn't practical, so horizontal knobs were used for winding and setting.
"The challenge of this eighth record (for Bulgari) was the most difficult to overcome, since we had to break the rules not only in terms of movement design, but also of the case, the caseback, the bracelet and the folding clasp," said Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bulgari’s Product Creation Executive Director. "To achieve this degree of thinness, you not only have to review your way of thinking, but you must also draw upon a wide range of skills, play with multiple materials and adapt to a multitude of new constraints. In this sense, the Octo Finissimo Ultra is unquestionably the ultimate complication in this vast field of possibilities represented by ultra-miniaturization."
The Octo Finissimo Ultra comes in a limited edition of 10 units and will set you back a sobering US$440,000.
The video below shows off the Octo collection.