Hands-On With The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S With A Stunning Steel Silvered Dial
Back in January when the new Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S with a steel silvered dial was introduced, Rob called it a possible contender for the watch of the year. But is it really? Time to find out. I had a chance to go hands-on with the steel Octo Finissimo model that is closest to the original concept of the titanium version that was introduced in 2017. The big question is whether it is better than the black and blue dial versions in steel? With those two models appealing to a broad audience, could the monochromatic steel version take the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo crown? As it turns out, the answer is not that simple.
As most of you know by now, quite a few Fratello team members are fans of the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo. Robert-Jan, Rob, and yours truly have been expressing our admiration for the Octo Finissimo line ever since the automatic sandblasted titanium version on a bracelet came out in 2017. And it still is the first watch that perfectly embodied the Octo Finissimo concept. Seeing that watch now does bring back the genuine excitement I felt when it first came out.
The Octo Finissimo in steel
But a titanium watch might win you a lot of praise, it’s steel that is the most favored by the bigger crowd. So in order to cater to the masses, the steel version was a no-brainer. And when the steel version of the Octo Finissimo arrived in early 2020 it proved the strength of the design. In satin-polished steel, the watch is just as impressive as in titanium. On top of that, it adds some much-desired weight to the watch.
The brand let go of the monochromatic concept.
With the addition of the steel version, Bvlgari also entered the arena of the massively popular luxury steel sports watches currently dominated by two Genta classics. But could it compete with the likes of the Nautilus and the Royal Oak? The first thing the Bvlgari cleverly did with the steel version is releasing it with a black dial. Not long after the blue dial version followed to much praise. By doing so, the brand let go of the monochromatic concept of the Octo Finissimo. But it also made sure that all the ingredients are definitely there to play with the big boys.
Back to the original concept
Robert-Jan wrote an article explaining that as it stands the Octo Finissimo in steel is his preferred option over the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202ST. Those two watches recently went head-to-head in our Sunday Morning Showdown series. The outcome of that battle? You made it perfectly clear, the Octo Finissimo is not up to the level of recognition of the Royal Oak (yet). Which is perfectly understandable. The Royal Oak was an industry first from the hand of one of the industry’s greats. And it has grown into an icon that is currently amongst the most popular models out there.
For the Octo Finissimo to get close to the same level of recognition, it could take years. Until that time it will be interesting to see how successful the Octo Finissimo can be. Because it will take more than unanimous praise from watch journalists to be successful. Having said all that, let’s take a look at the all-new Octo Finissimo S with a steel silvered dial with reference 103464.
Could this new version be better than the existing versions?
This new version is the third steel automatic model to be released in the previous 12 months. It is one of the many family releases we have seen since the Octo Finissimo in titanium was released. All those releases have expressed the brilliance of the Octo Finissimo concept. But most buyers will probably choose just one to add to their collection. And could this new version be better than the existing blue and black dial versions?
The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo design
Essentially this new Octo Finissmo sees Bvlgari introduce a new dial color. That’s it. Easy does it right? As simple as it might sound, there is a bit more to this new silvered dial Octo Finissimo in steel. This new version embodies the original concept of the Octo Finissimo but in steel. First, we saw a titanium version with a titanium dial. Soon after followed by a black ceramic version with a black ceramic dial and a rose gold version with a rose gold dial. This monochromatic feel had become one of the essential hallmarks of the Octo Finissimo line.
A glorious return to the original idea.
Bvlgari left the initial concept when releasing the first stainless steel models. But this new version sees a glorious return to the original idea. The Octo Finissimo S features a 40mm satin-polished case that features a mixture of shapes and sharp angles. It’s a case design that has a lot going on but without ever feeling weird or disproportional at any moment. On the contrary, the toned-down dial design creates the perfect balance. At 6.4mm high, it is a tad thicker than the initial titanium version but in line with the previously released steel models.
The power of monochrome
New is the brushed steel silvered dial. And I have to say, it’s a stunner. From the moment I picked the watch up, I was intrigued by the level of detail of the finishing. And maybe even more importantly, it’s great to see the watch with a steel silvered dial in line with the case and the bracelet. Putting the watch on the wrist immediately reminds you of the ultra-thin profile of the watch and the incredibly well-designed and executed bracelet. The bracelet hugs to your wrist and is incredibly comfortable to wear.
The first thing that stands out is how easy it is to wear the Octo Finissimo. I am usually not the biggest fan of square or rectangular-shaped watches. But not only does the case not look like a straightforward rectangular design, but it also doesn’t wear like one. At 40mm it is the perfect size and with its slim profile, it truly is a joy to have on the wrist. And compared to the titanium version is does feel more substantial in weight. Obviously, it is still very light but this steel version gives you the idea that you are wearing a watch. Something you might forget with the titanium version.
The Steel Dial
The true star of the show is the steel silvered dial. The first feeling I got from it was a feeling of returning to what made the initial titanium version such a special release. As I explained in the Sunday Morning Showdown I referred to earlier, I felt a genuine excitement when I first saw that watch. And this steel version does feel like the direct connection to that watch. More so than the black and blue dial version.
The steel dial has a beautiful vertical-brushed finish. Depending on the amount of light and how it reflects on the dial, the color and details change. It can vary from a bright almost smooth silver color to a darker and more textured look. The dial is precisely executed and more attractive than both the blue and the black dial. It is one of those dials that will have you looking at your watch all through the day.
The beautiful handset is simply amazing.
But with it also comes a practical matter that almost immediately catches your eyes. Depending on the way the light shines on the dial, it does become easier or harder to read the time. In brighter conditions, I found there was little contrast between the dial and the polished steel hour markers. While it never became a real problem, it did stand out on multiple occasions. But the impact of the dial and the overall readability with its big hour markers and the beautiful handset is simply amazing.
Bvlgari Caliber BVL138
If you take the watch off the wrist and turn it around, you will see the Bvlgari Caliber BVL138. The movement is only 2.23mm thick and the secret ingredient for the record-breaking specifications of the titanium version. The BVL138 uses a platinum micro-rotor and when fully wound, it provides 60 hours of power reserve. The movement has a Côtes de Genève decoration, chamfered bridges, and a mainplate with a circular grain finish.
Realizing that this movement is the key to realizing the Octo Finissimo concept, is pretty powerful. It is the starting point for the slim overall profile and the refined design and execution of the wonderful bracelet. It has allowed Bvlgari to come up with a great series of automatic watches that have become the most popular models of the Octo Finissimo collection.
After wearing the new Octo Finissimo S with the steel silvered dial for some time, I have become an even bigger fan of the Octo Finissimo concept. And this new version proves the concept also works perfectly in steel. Even better, the dial is a bigger eye-catcher than the black or blue dial. But is it the best choice?
I love a good concept. And the concept of the Octo Finissimo is what I so greatly admire about the collection. The ultimate manifestation of the concept for me is in the monochromatic (and mono-material) versions of the watches. The titanium and the rose gold versions are especially stunning that show the power of the Octo Finissimo. With that in mind, you would think the choice is easy.
The best Octo Finissimo?
But despite that incredible dial, the contrast provided by the steel versions with the black and blue dial does prove to be more practical. And my preferred version with the black dial has shown that it does not lessen the impact of the overall design. It might not be as true to the original concept and it does lack the impact this new dial has, but would you rather your hard-earned €12,300 go on the most practical or the best execution of the concept?
I would have a hard time choosing between this new steel version with a silver dial or the Octo Finissimo with the black dial. But the choice for an Octo Finissimo has proven to be a simple one. This is easily one of the most exciting new watches of the last few years. Let’s hope Bvlgari is able to keep executing the Octo Finissimo concept as it has and keeps on surprising us. Because at the speed Bvlgari has been releasing new models, there will quickly be an abundance of options. And, in my opinion, that could impact the power of the Octo Finissimo collection. For now, that power is very much intact with the release of this Octo Finissimo S with a steel dial.
For more information, visit the official Bvlgari website.