Why not...? Gold and the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Sandblasted in gold
Gold fascinates us. Whatever country or culture we are from, this metal has its significance.
Gold can be a sign of power or riches; it can drive us crazy; it can create and destroy empires, trigger revolutions, migrations and invasions. It has shaped countries and created legends.
It is as attractive as it is menacing, it is a gift of the Earth and, nevertheless, we often have to break, pollute and drill into the very same earth in order to extract it. Whatever your opinions, you cannot be left indifferent by gold. It is a symbol.
For some, it is beautiful.
It is the colour of the sun, it decorates palaces and, of course, is used for all the most beautiful jewellery. It can also be a refuge, an investment or a form of security. The adjective golden can evoke a sense of well-being, sun-kissed skin or even a perfectly cooked dish. In fact, it is also one of the rare precious metals that is edible and can be enjoyed as much on a steak (see the recent stores about a famous Bayern Munich football player) as a decoration on chocolate.
For others, it is a symbol of something that needs to be brought down.
I remember a banner hung on the façade of the WTO in Geneva that read in French “tant qu’il y aura des couilles en or, il y aura des lames en acier”[“As long as people have balls of gold there will be blades of steel”]. Gold can disturb people and shape opinion. People who wear it often don’t help, like rappers who show off their bling and fashionistas laden down with the precious metal.
So it is constantly in the limelight, hanging in a delicate balance between beauty and vulgarity, subtlety and exuberance.
Furthermore, this is also true as far as watches are concerned.
Gold has been used by watchmakers since time immemorial. It’s an easy metal to work with and has housed the most beautiful movements and the most beautiful complications. It is the perfect case material for high-end watches. It is also a sign of something that is meant to last and is used to mark big occasions. There is the first communion watch, the golden watch to celebrate marriage or the gold watch you inherit. Because a gold watch is something that is earned.
This is the story behind the watch offered by my mother to my father for their engagement. He wore it until his death and then it never left my mother’s wrist until she left to join the man who gave it to her in the afterlife.
When I inherited it, it was not in good shape. A watchmaker spent several months coaxing it back to life. A new movement, a new dial and new hands. But the yellow-gold case remained intact, keeping its vintage charm.
Because gold is also the sign of a time. It rose to high popularity only to fade away in recent years because of the dark side of its strength. It lost its shine.
Since it is closely related to the world of jewellery, it is often reserved for ladies’ watches. And since it is a delicate metal, it was for a long time considered dressy. Gold has often been a prisoner to its status as a luxury metal, but sometimes brands helped by giving it wings or a diving suit.
So talking about a gold watch is not as easy as it would seem. What’s more, there is not just one gold but several different types of gold. Yellow, red, pink and even orange, gold comes in many versions. It can be polished, matte, hammered, gem set or engraved. But its use always requires great care. It can quickly become too visible and overtake the rest of the watch. But if it is too discreet, on the other hand, it loses its charm and its confidence.
It's all a question of balance.
This is the charm of gold. It changes people’s perceptions and is polarizing. Those who wear such watches know this and accept it.
This is why I have chosen to talk about the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Sandblasted in gold. Because it has everything to make you like it… and dislike it. And that’s why I like it!
The brand may be deeply entrenched in Italian luxury culture, but it was created by a Greek goldsmith in 1884, who arrived in Rome after stays in Corfu and Naples.
The brand really took off in the Italian capital. But this took a number of years, with success finally coming thanks to a number of cinema stars who fell in love with the brand’s jewellery creations.
Surrounded by people like Liz Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren and Marlene Dietrich, the Roman brand started to dominate and headed out to conquer the US market in the early 1970s. This was when La Dolce Vita became a success story.
But Bulgari didn’t enter the world of watchmaking until 1980, with watches that combined form (innovative design) with function (in-house movements). Some 20 years later the brand purchased the workshops of Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta, reinforcing its watchmaking activities.
Since 2011 Bulgari has been part of the LVMH group and is now managed by a “watch” man in the form of Jean-Christophe Babin, former CEO of TAG Heuer.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Sandblasted in gold: Goldfinger sings La Traviata
The story is well known. The Bulgari design is inspired by the arches of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine and the octagonal bas-reliefs found on ancient Roman buildings But the Octo is so much more than a tribute to Rome. It is unique in several ways.
First of all, its design. Is it round, octagonal, square or rectangular? It is, in fact, a bit of all four. And that is what is so exceptional about the Bulgari Octo. It manages to bring together different shapes, which you would not expect to work together, in complete harmony.
At first glance it is simple, understated even. But after a few moments you notice that it is a totally original watch, which for me pays tribute above all to architecture. Then, the Bulgari Octo is a genuine piece of watchmaking art. It doesn’t just have a “nice face”. It also has a heart.
Its ultra-thin movement (2.23mm) with a platinum micro-rotor, is both efficient and beautiful. Even though it is self-winding, I can’t help but see a resemblance to the stylistic charms of a manually-wound movement. For once, the sapphire crystal case back is justified, because the BVL 138 calibre deserves to be looked at.
Octo Finissimo Automatic Sandblasted in rose gold © Bulgari
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo could only ever be svelte. Its measurements prove it: 40mm diameter and 5.15mm thickness. But it feels bigger and has a real presence on the wrist. Maybe this is because of the way the bracelet (which, though thin, is quite wide) is integrated into the case. But taken as a whole, there is no lack of charm. One thing that is sure is that this watch will be talked about. All the more so for the gold version.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo doesn’t need to be in gold to be noticed. That is why I chose it. It looks just as good in steel or titanium as it does in gold. But the gold gives it even more charm. Because Bulgari has chosen a sandblasted matte gold case and a dial with the same finishing. Basically, the entire watch is gold. It may sound too much, but it isn’t. It was an audacious move, but it has paid off. It stands out, but it doesn’t bother you. Its relatively sporty and casual style – paired with its matte finishing and its slenderness – allow it to fit discreetly under a shirt cuff.
Octo Finissimo Automatic Sandblasted in rose gold © Bulgari
One final detail: the dial is magnificent. The hands have presence and the small seconds between 6 and 9 adds a touch of folly to a piece that already had plenty. But it is all done with taste.
So, if you are looking for a watch that goes off the beaten track, don’t think twice. The Octo Finissimo Automatic Sandblasted in gold will not disappoint you.
What does the devil’s advocate think?
Gold can have a devilish side, so our devil’s advocate naturally likes this Octo.
But given that perfection is not of this world, we can make a few – minor – criticisms.
Despite its thinness, the Octo is still an imposing watch. Maybe there could be a smaller version, in 36 or 38mm? And although I appreciate its sporty edge, I’m a bit disappointed at its rather limited water resistance.
And the gold version only comes with a gold bracelet.
I could, however, see this gold dial version going well with a gold – or dark-brown – leather strap, which might appeal to those put off by the extreme side to the watch. Or maybe even a rubber strap or synthetic strap to underscore its offbeat character?
How to wear the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Sandblasted with the utmost discretion?
Since the Bulgari Octo Finissimo in gold has presence, it needs to be paired with discretion. Forget the rapper’s chunky golden chains, forget diamond necklaces and satin jackets. The Octo Finissimo would benefit best from a low-profile, but chic style.
Nevertheless, since we are talking about gold, let’s travel to the countries that have it as we consider our outfit.
Starting with China, the world’s biggest producer of gold. We could go for a simple white shirt with a mandarin collar by Shanghai Tang. If the weather is hotter, we could try one of the great polo shirts from the same brand, still with the same famous collar.
Our next stop should be Australia, where we could pick a Hubert Persimmon chino from Aquila. My favourite colour would be pink with a cord fastener that accentuates the casual style of these trousers from down under.
Continuing on our golden journey, we head to the Americas. The choice is huge and for once we could opt for an accessory from This is Ground. I can only recommend the Venture backpack, as practical as it is stylish, especially in the bomber jacket leather version. You could fit a MacBook inside, protected by a Symmetry case from Della, a “made in Ghana” brand. Because Ghana is the world’s eighth biggest producer of gold!
Alongside the USA is Russia, the perennial enemy and a direct competitor in terms of gold production. But as far as style is concerned, the options are thin on the ground, so let’s drown our sorrows in a glass of vodka!
To perfect the casual style for the feet, there is nothing better than white or navy-blue sneakers. They should come from South Africa, the world’s fifth biggest producer of gold, specifically from the brand Vosk.
Now you are perfectly dressed to head out and make the most of life with your Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Sandblasted in gold on your wrist. Perhaps the time has come to go and watch a good-old film?
How about Goldfinger or the Man with the Golden Gun?
Bulgari has its own clear definition of excellence, which involves the perfect balance between design, added-value, quality of its products and its worldwide service. In the case of Bulgari watches, it all started with the Bulgari Bulgari watch that led to the creation of Bulgari Time in Switzerland in 1982.Find out more >
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