Bvlgari Octo Roma WorldTimer Hands-On Watch Review
We spend a lot of time talking about the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo on Fratello (because we love that line dearly), but the Octo Roma line has a lot to offer also. In fact, while the Finissimo is truly groundbreaking, its unerring thinness can, for some, be a dealbreaker. The Octo Roma takes the gloriously architectural lines of its slimmer (and squarer) brother and delivers them with the kind of elegant machismo we might expect of the horological embodiment of the world’s most famous and enduring empire.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, or so the saying goes. When it comes to a watchmaking corollary, the establishment of Bvlgari‘s reputation could hardly be more perfect. These things take time. Even though no one doubts the power of the brand name in the jewelry sphere, it has taken patience, investment, and a splash of genius to haul Bvlgari’s name up the ranks of Haute Horlogerie heavyweights in recent years. While it is hard to fault the brand’s distinguished creativity in the ladies’ market, the men’s collection sorely needed to flag-bearer the Octo Finissimo turned out to be. Not because there weren’t already a ton of interesting models in the catalog to chew over, but simply because not enough people were paying attention.
The right time
It is often the way that a brand needs a single lightning rod to ignite interest in the good work it has been doing for years. That lightning rod turned out to be the Finissimo, which heralded a new era of design for the brand. The 2017 release of the “rounder” Octo Roma collection was welcomed by those who found the lightning rod a bit too, shall we say, charged… This latest development sees a 41mm wide, 11.35mm thick stainless steel watch in either uncoated metal or blackened by DLC with an automatic world timer movement hit the collection. Both references are water-resistant to 100 meters.
Honestly, it seems hard to imagine a more seamless release. This model (in both colorways) seems like it has been around for eternity. While it certainly isn’t the most shocking of novelties, it is exactly the kind of sensitive development I look for and expect from brands trying to build their standing.
The BLV 257 movement
In comparison to Bvlgari’s exciting movement development found in the more expensive line of watches, the movement used in the Bvlgari Octo Roma WorldTimer is pretty basic, but by no means uninteresting. The manufacture caliber BVL 257 (based on the BVL 191) has automatic winding, a 28,800vph operating frequency, the ability to display 24 time zones simultaneously, and a 42 hour power reserve. This is a relatively standard movement architecture, but the balance bridge (for added robustness) and some nicely applied striping make this movement pleasant to observe through the display case back. However, that’s not why we came to this party. The real treat is the dial side of this model, whichever colorway you choose.
This kind of worldtimer is, in my opinion, better suited to tracking foreign timezones from your homestead…
This is a true worldtimer in that 24 timezones can be read simultaneously. Your chosen “home city” can be oriented at the top of the dial and then the hour and minute hands set normally. The 24-hour ring that is sandwiched between the city ring and the center portion of the dial is linked to the time-telling mechanism and thus mirrors your chosen home time always. Worldtimers are, in my opinion, better suited to tracking foreign timezones from your homestead rather than actually traveling in some ways. It’s simple enough to change the home city if you wish to while you’re abroad, but the absence of a separate GMT hand means the set-up is marginally more laborious.
World timers versus…
If you want a practical example, I would rather use this watch when sitting at my desk in Germany doing business with someone in Los Angeles, and I’d rather wear my NOMOS Glashütte Weltzeit while hopping in and out of planes. It’s really a matter of preference for how the information is displayed and the ease of use for specific functions, but I see the benefits to both world timers, effective dual time zone watches (like the Weltzeit), and true GMTs (like the Rolex GMT-Master II, for example) also.
Black or blue?
For me, the blue dial in the steel case is the most exciting model here. The white text is rather plentiful and thus I feel it needs to be broken up by a subtle background texture to avoid looking too essayistic. The all-black model, however, smacks of high fashion and is the kind of piece I could see appealing to men that already own some of Bvlgari’s jewelry. I can see its neutral color palette coming to life next to some of the brand’s classic rose gold and black rings for which it made its name.
The Octo Finissimo titanium is a stunning occasional piece and a real conversation starter. The Finissimo in steel is a more wearable daily watch, but will still spook a few traditionalists with its baffling dimensions. When it comes to the Octo Roma, there is a beautiful balance. Concept and execution are united here and the added functionality of the world timer function makes this a compelling package from top to bottom.
And, of course, the more established proportions of the Oct Roma mean that the price is significantly lower than its time-only super slim range-mates. Both reference 103481 (blue) and reference 103486 (black) retail for €8,600 including taxes, which is around €6,000 less than the titanium Finissimo and even €3,500 less than the stainless steel Finissimo. I think that’s a pretty solid price for a manufacture World Timer. Additionally, the steel version comes on a bracelet, which will add significant value for some. I actually love the fabric strap on the black model. I think it makes it look very futuristic.
As much as I enjoyed wearing this piece and found its “heavier” nature more reassuring than the Ti Finissimo, I’d love to hear the Fratelli’s thoughts on this and the rest of Bvlgari’s range. Yes, we’re fans, but how about you? Do you like what the brand is doing and, if not, what should it do to catch your eye?