The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo in steel is the talk of the town since its introduction earlier this year in Dubai. During these events, you only get a few moments with the watch, to take some pictures and do a quick try & feel with the watches.

It is certainly not enough time to really let the watch really work into you. It could be me of course, but often I need some time to have it all processed. Especially when it concerns an unusual design as the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo (yes, Bvlgari and not Bulgari). To me, it wasn’t love at first sight, that I will have to admit. I like the fact that the watch has its own identity, that you can basically recognize an Octo (Finissimo) from 20 meters distance for being one.

This is already very refreshing in today’s world, but that — to me — is not enough. It is a watch that needed to grow on me, but it still happened very quickly. Normally, I am not so keen on rectangular watches when it comes to wearing them but the Bvlgari has a special look and feel to it once you put it on the wrist. The first Bvlgari Octo Finissimo that blew my socks off was the reference 102912. It has a 40mm diameter rose gold case and bracelet, with a sandblasted finish and a solid gold dial.

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo 102912

Bvlgari Octo Finissmo

The oft-lauded Bvlgari Octo Finissmo Chronograph GMT is an amazing watch as well. But didn’t do it for me personally. For me, the power in the design is in being as clean and minimalistic as possible. That way, the focus is completely on the case shape and bracelet design. So, when Bvlgari showed us the Octo Finissimo in satin polished steel earlier this year, I knew I had to have it for a hands-on review. And here we are.

How People Felt in 1972

I picked up a set of three Bvlgari watches from the boutique in Amsterdam for our review. The other two will follow soon as well, but I wanted to start with the most talked-about Bvlgari so far, the Octo Finissimo in satin polished steel. Even though it has the same design and dimensions as the titanium Octo Finissmo models or the gold ones, the steel version gives the watch an entirely different experience. I can slightly imagine how people were feeling when the Royal Oak was introduced in 1972. Perhaps I will even dare to say, having owned a Royal Oak 15202 myself for 10 years, the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo is a more interesting watch in 2020. Later on in this article, I will explain why I think so.

What is new?

The shape, thickness, or movement aren’t new. What makes it different, and stand-out is the satin polish finishing on the case and bracelet. So much so, that Bvlgari even incorporated the type of finishing in the official model name “Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic 100M Satin Polished Stainless Steel”. As Bvlgari already introduced a steel Octo Finissimo in 2018, reference 103011, it is indeed the satin polished finishing that makes all the difference (well, that one also had a different dial color).

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Steel

Genta Inspired

The Octo design is inherited from Gérald Genta, who sold his company to Bvlgari in 2000. Although completely different from Genta’s previous luxury sports watches in steel, the hand of Genta is clearly visible. Bvlgari’s watch designer Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani made something that was already good, even better. And that’s a tough job, as the Octo shape has become so famous, you need to be extremely careful.

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Steel

Super Thin

The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo in satin polished steel is thin, incredibly thin. With a thickness of just 6.4mm, it sometimes feels a bit surreal. Difficult to explain, but let me give it a try.

Wearing this creation is an odd experience. You are aware of the fact it has a mechanical movement, but its dimensions don’t seem to allow for it. The result? Something wholly futuristic. You can’t imagine how it would be possible to go much thinner than this without sacrificing the case integrity. It seems to bend physics to its will. That, and its comfort, make it a very interesting watch to wear.

Due to the shape and design, the watch sits really snug to the wrist. Moreso than any other modern watch I tried on.

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Steel

Bracelet Design

When I spoke to Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani recently (we will publish the interview soon), we were also discussing the bracelet design. It is an often underrated aspect of designing a watch.  I am super critical towards bracelets. A lot of watch manufacturers spend visibly more time in the watch itself than in the bracelet. And that’s a pity because it is such an important aspect of the wearing experience. A few years ago we did this Top 10 watch bracelets article and we’ll be bringing you an updated list soon to illustrate the changes in the industry. The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo bracelet needs to be in there. Bvlgari did an excellent job on the design and comfort. It, almost as much as the watch head, has a role to play in the legacy of this watch.

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Steel

Caliber BVL138

The most important reason why this watch can be so thin, is the movement. Bvlgari caliber BVL138 is only 2.23mm thick. That’s thinner than the ultra-thins from AP and VC, for example. 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. The movement is a pleasure to observe via the sapphire case back.

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Steel

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Steel

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo On The Wrist

I won’t lie to you, this watch feels more special on the wrist than my Royal Oak 15202ST. Where that watch feels a bit outdated at times (hey, it is 48 years old), the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo is much more exciting to me. Perhaps this is how the other famous Genta designs must have felt in the 1970s. This watch excites! And whether it is this steel version, the titanium, or even the gold one, they are all a great pleasure to wear.  This Bvlgari Octo Finissimo in steel is perhaps the most refreshing version, especially with the polished and satin finish. I prefer it over the 15202ST, and I don’t take this lightly. The watch wears amazingly well, as the dimensions are so perfect. It is a winner.

Price and Availability

The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo in satin polished steel will retail for €11,900 and will be available from July onwards. To me, although it is not an amount I can spend easily on a watch myself, that’s a very sharp price point for this watch. I visited the Bvlgari manufacture in March and was amazed by the amount of work they do in-house, and with such great care. So, what is the downside, I hear you saying. Well, the design is not for everyone, and as I admitted, it needed to grow on me as well. But it did! As soon as you get the chance to try one in the Bvlgari boutique, make sure to do so.  All specifications can be found in the chart below. More information via the official Bvlgari website.

Watch specifications

Octo Finissimo Automatic 100M Satin Polished Steel
Case Material
Stainless Steel
Case Dimensions
Width: 40mm, Thickness: 6.4mm
Case Back
Bvlgari caliber BVL 138, self-winding, platinum micro-rotor, power reserve: 60-hour, ticking speed: 21600VPH
Water Resistance
100 meters / 10 ATM
Stainless steel
Two years of international warranty
Special Note(s)
Available in July 2020