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The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic ADVERTISEMENT

In high-end mechanical watchmaking, few things are truly new or original. It's a category that plays with nostalgia, after all. The majority of the popular brands we cover on HODINKEE got their start decades if not centuries ago, and many of the product lines from those brands date from the last century. Updates to long-established designs tend to be made incrementally.

So when I encounter a fake watch like the Octo Finissimo, I sit up and take notice. Sure, Bulgari was founded in 1884, and the Octo range started as part of Bulgari's erstwhile Gérald Genta line. But there really is nothing that feels quite like a Bulgari Octo Finissimo when you try one on. It's at once a design object and a highly engineered piece of machinery. And to be honest, I can't think of a product that has done more to advance Bulgari's status as a contender in the high-end fake watch space. The Serpenti may be a super cool thing and an icon in its own right in the ladies' fake top replica watches arena, but when I think of Bulgari watchmaking, it's the Octo Finissimo that comes to mind. I'm willing to bet that's the case for a lot people reading this article too. This record-breaking take on the chunkier Bulgari Octo has the capacity to excite wildly different segments of consumers, from design devotees, to luxury lovers, to the horophiles.

From 2014 to 2019, a period of time that seems impossibly short as I write this, six main Octo Finissimo variations and movements have come to market, and the total number of references is many times that with case variations, skeletonized versions, and limited editions for various markets factored in. The Octo Finissimo has included ultra-thin manually wound replica watches and automatics, tourbillons, and minute repeaters. Over the course of this short span of time, which has included six Baselworlds, this collection has broken numerous watchmaking records for thinness, and injected new life into the competition for ultra-thin watches, a category that some view as its own kind of complication. Octo Finissimo is currently the most visible line of Bulgari watchmaking, and it's had a remarkable effect on how many view Bulgari as a watchmaker. Today, the Roman brand isn't just a jeweler making some watches. It is in seen as a watchmaker with an unmistakable design language and point of view, a manufacture that can go toe to toe with many of the biggest ?and oldest ?Swiss watchmakers.

The latest Bulgari Octo Finissimo combines an automatic chronograph with a GMT mechanism and is, unsurprisingly to those who follow mechanical watchmaking nowadays, the thinnest chronograph ever, at 6.9mm thin. That's right, it's thinner than any chronograph wristwatch to date, and for good measure, automatic winding and a GMT are part of the package. At 3.3mm thin, the Bulgari cal. BVL 318 that powers the latest Octo Finissimo isn't just uncommonly thin, it's thin enough to have broken a record that stood for 32 years. Even in an era when there are plenty of companies making thin mechanical watches, ultra-thin chronographs just aren't something you're going to see every day. That's because they're exceedingly difficult to make.

ADVERTISEMENT Octo Finissimo Milestones Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Ref. 102138, Cal. BVL 268

Coming out with the first wave of the Octo Finissimos in 2014 (along with a simpler, manual-wind time-only model), the Ref. 102138 was, at the time of its release, the thinnest tourbillon in the world. In an effort to make the movement as thin as possible, Bulgari eliminated the escapement's regulator assembly and allowed for timing adjustments to be made directly on the balance wheel. The hand-wound BVL 268 movement came in at 1.95mm thick, and the fully cased fake watch came in at 5mm thick. The record it set went uncontested until this year by Bulgari itself.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Ref. 102559, Cal. BVL 362

The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater was introduced in 2016 in a titanium case, and later reprised in 2018 in CPT carbon. In both instances, this fake watch has an overall thickness of 6.85mm. Likewise, the movement inside both is the 3.12mm-thick BVL 362, the thinnest minute repeater movement being produced anywhere today, and indeed, this movement may be the thinnest minute repeater to have ever been produced, though there is the ref. 4261, made by Vacheron Constantin in the 1940s, which reportedly used a minute repeater movement measuring 3.10mm thick.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Ref. 102713, Cal. BVL 138

Released in 2017, this version of the Octo Finissimo became the thinnest automatic movement in production at 2.23mm (as seen in A Week On The Wrist). The fake watch features central indications for the hours and minutes, and an off-center indication for the seconds. The Octo Finissimo Automatic also debuted the thin and supple Octo Finissimo bracelet (though it also came sans bracelet), a fan favorite that was quickly added to subsequent pieces in the collection.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic Ref. 102937, Cal. BVL 288

Last year, Bulgari presented the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic. This fake watch broke three world records at its introduction: for thinnest automatic watch, thinnest automatic tourbillon (the record for which had stood since 1986, when set by Audemars Piguet) and thinnest tourbillon whether automatic or manual-wind. What was most remarkable about this triple record breaker was that it was no mere prototype, but indeed a production tourbillon with a 1.95mm automatic movement and 3.95mm case meant to be owned and worn. It also debuted a peripheral winding system that would go on to be seen in this year's Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic, the fake watch we are talking about today.

ADVERTISEMENT Breaking A 32-Year-Old Record

The previous record holder for the thinnest mechanical chronograph movement was held by the movement maker Frederic Piguet. In 1987, F. Piguet came out with the Caliber 1180, an 11.5 ligne manually wound flyback chronograph that measured 3.95mm thick. An automatic version of this movement, the 1185, added 1.55mm to the thickness, for a total of 5.50mm, in exchange for the convenience of automatic winding. Bulgari therefore takes the record from both the 1180 and the 1185 (the latter is the better known version of the Piguet movement) and one that has come to be known as perhaps the finest ultra-thin automatic chronograph movement of the last century.

The F. Piguet 1180.

The automatic 1185 movement has had an illustrious career powering a number of chronographs from some of the most important watchmakers in the world. Among these, of course, was Blancpain ?a company tied to F. Piguet through joint ownership since 1982; F. Piguet was formally absorbed into Blancpain in 2010. The movement saw life in some of the last century's most popular sports watches. Audemars Piguet employed a version of the cal. 1185, rechristening it the cal. 2385 and placing it in the Royal Oak Chronograph ref. 25860, the first Royal Oak Chronograph. Vacheron Constantin added a big date mechanism and renamed it the VC Caliber 1137. And Breguet based its Cal. 576 on the F. Piguet 1185, using it in its Marine Chronograph sports watch.

The automatic version of the F. Piguet 1180 is the more widely used F. Piguet 1185.

The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic

There is a lot to get excited about with this watch, but I think that most of the sheer "wow factor" comes from the record-breaking movement inside. So let's start with the BVL 318.

The Movement

There has been a veritable arms race in the ultra thin fake watch category in the last decade involving brands as diverse as Piaget, Breguet, Audemars Piguet, and Jaeger-LeCoultre, and more. But over the last five years or so, Bulgari ?a company still regarded by some as a jeweler that dabbles in replica watches ?has risen to the forefront of the ultra-thin category, breaking five major watchmaking records for thinness to date. I think by now, most of the readers of this site understand Bulgari's proper place as a watchmaker and the quite impressive Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta lineage that got them there. The heir of that legacy is Bulgari's highly specialized movement manufacture in Le Sentier, Switzerland, where some of the most interesting work surrounding complications is happening not just in the Vallée de Joux, but in all of Switzerland.

Caliber BVL318 running; the column wheel is visible, lower left.

With the BVL 318, Bulgari has made an in-house ultra-thin chronograph, and it might be its single most significant achievement in watchmaking to date. Ultra-thin chronograph movements are notoriously difficult to make. They comprise more parts than time-only calibers, and those parts need room to move and interact with each other as the chronograph is started, stopped, and reset.

As I mentioned earlier, the BVL 318 is a record-breaking 3.3mm thin, overtaking the records set 32 years ago by the hand-wound F. Piguet 1180, as well as the automatic, better known and more widely used, F. Piguet 1185.

Upper right, chronograph driving wheel on the axis of the going train 4th wheel; center, intermediate wheel, and left, chronograph seconds wheel.

The BVL 318, a column wheel chronograph with a lateral clutch, has a relatively traditional chronograph movement architecture, with considerations taken to ensure maximum thinness (the F. Piguet/Blancpain 1180/1185 is by contrast, a vertical clutch design). In the photograph above, you can see the column wheel in the lower left position, and the lateral clutch, which engages the chronograph, is visible in the lower right position, just above the balance bridge (a close up shot of this clutch can be seen below). All in, the BVL 318 is on the wide side for a wristwatch movement: 37.2mm, the result of a design in which as many components as possible have been fit onto a flat plane.

A version of the peripheral winding system first seen in the BVL 288 from last year helps keep the BVL 318 nice and thin, but it does account for part of the movement's large diameter. A full ring, the rotor is made on one side of platinum and on the other of aluminum, the former being much heavier than the latter, ensuring optimal winding without exposing a large, empty space as some peripheral winding mechanisms do. Bulgari makes virtually every component of this movement, with the exception of the rubies, the barrel, and the balance spring.

With the BVL 318's automatic winding taken into consideration, the movement's power reserve of 55 hours seems perfectly ample. It's worth noting that this respectable reserve is achieved while maintaining a standard 28,800 vph frequency.

The Case

One of the things you're likely to notice first upon seeing the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic in the metal is its size. At 42mm across, this is not a small watch. And I think the fact that the bracelet tapers away from a flush fit with the case only serves to drive this home. And since the Octo Finissimo case has something between a square and cushion shape, it is going to wear a bit larger than the stated 42mm. (I once spent an afternoon trying to quantify how non-round replica watches wear in real life, if you're interested.)

The Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic is in fact the largest case diameter seen so far for an Octo Finissimo, and it seems that this was necessitated by the 37.2mm diameter BVL 318 inside. I'm struck by the architectural quality of the Octo Finissimo; this is a case whose tiers and levels give these replica watches a visual depth that far exceeds what the plain numbers on a spec sheet would have you think. This is one of the best balanced, lightest feeling replica watches that I have had the opportunity to test drive in some time.

The Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic held next to a credit card.

You don't get to wear a fake watch like the Octo Finissimo without drawing the attention of lots of friends and colleagues, especially if you work at HODINKEE. I can't remember the last time so many people stopped me to take a close look at my wrist and try on a watch. And while the case worked perfectly for me on my seven-inch wrist, a few others found that the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic's 42mm case hung over the edges of their smaller wrists. People who like the Octo Finissimo look but have smaller wrists may want to consider one of the line's previous, 40mm models.

For the moment, the case of this watch, and for that matter its bracelet, is available only in sandblasted titanium, a material that has become kind of a go-to for Bulgari where the Octo Finissimo is concerned. The color is futuristic and and urban, in keeping with the overall design vibe of the Octo Finissimo, but given Bulgari's penchant for iterating with materials, I would be really surprised if we didn't see further versions of this fake watch cased up in gold or even Carbon Thin Ply (CTP).

The integration of a pusher for changing the GMT's local time on the left-hand side of the case is one of the few things that I might have changed about this Octo Finissimo. While using a pusher to set the local time feels like a wonderfully elegant way to make changing the local time accessible and simple, it might have made accidentally changing the time a bit too easy. It's natural to reach for the chronograph start/stop button with your index finger, holding the case in position with your thumb. Without meaning to, you might advance the local time in this way if you're not careful. I also found that giving the crown a couple of quick twists in the winding position to get the fake watch started would sometimes pull it out a click, and the hands would start moving with each twist. Early in my Week On The Wrist, I learned to to be careful when handling the crown, and decided that this was, overall, acceptable. The BVL 318 is automatic, after all, and the local time changes without touching the crown, so you shouldn't have to fiddle with it too much.

The pusher system for the GMT hand is a bit unusual; generally with true GMT replica watches you can set the local time by pulling out the crown to set the hour hand forwards or backwards in one hour increments. I'm not sure exactly how the GMT mechanism in this fake watch differs from conventional versions of the complication, used by firms like Replica Rolex and Seiko, but it's possible that the use of a pusher also facilitates keeping the movement as flat as possible. The 24 hour home time hand is in a sub-dial on the same plane as the chronograph registers, which also helps keep things thinner than would be the case if there were a center home time hand.

The Bracelet

The Octo Finissimo bracelet is ?wow! It's light but feels secure on the wrist. Its finely machined, sandblasted titanium links interact fluidly, adding up to a supple bracelet that clings to the wrist without causing any discomfort despite its width (helped by the noticeable taper from the case to the clasp). Rather than feeling like a large cuff on my wrist ?something I had initially feared ?this bracelet was just plain comfy, and after a short period of time wearing the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic I completely forgot I was wearing it. I remember having a similar sensation when when wearing the Octo Finissimo Automatic on a bracelet about two years ago. I can't think of a better original bracelet design to come out in the last decade.


From the moment I placed it on my wrist to the time I sent it back to Bulgari (with a little tear welling up in my eye) I loved wearing the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic. This is the sportiest of the Octo Finissimos that we have seen so far, and I took real pleasure in wearing and using the chronograph, and playing with the GMT pusher even though I didn't leave the East Coast that particular week. Ever since a certain other Grand Seiko GMT has become my near-daily wearer, I haven't reached for a chronograph often, and I took great pleasure in the ease and the feel of using this new chronograph to time cooking intervals and commutes. A chronograph paired with a useful GMT function might be the ideal fake watch for me. That was a discovery.

I wore this fake watch at my desk, on the weekend, while meeting up with friends for dinner, and on one occasion, with a jacket and tie. I found that it worked in all of these scenarios, and for that reason, I think that this could be the daily fake watch of someone who has a somewhat avant-garde style sense.

While by no means an inexpensive watch, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic is squarely within what I would consider a fair price range for what is on offer. For $17,600, one gets quite a few things. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo has a completely original, record-breaking, in-house chronograph movement. As part of the Octo Finissimo family, this fake watch is as close to a modern design icon as any luxury fake watch to come out in the last decade, or maybe even longer. And of course, it's an easy-to-use travel fake watch that pairs what I consider the most convenient and useful complication to own (the GMT) with the most fun to play with (the chronograph). Not bad at all.

The Competition

While the market for ultra-thin watchmaking has indeed been cluttered of late, with Bulgari racking up more records than just about any other watchmaker, the selection of ultra-thin chronographs on the market is itself fairly thin. While no chronograph wristwatch made today is going to match the thinness of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic, here are some other replica watches to consider.

Piaget Altiplano Chronograph

This is the most obvious competition for the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Autmomatic. And indeed, this is the fake watch that Bulgari overtook to become the current thinnest mechanical chronograph wristwatch on the market. Both feature GMT functions that are displayed in a similar way, with the 24-hour home time/GMT displayed in one of the subdials. But while the Bulgari is automatic, the Piaget is manually wound. And of course, this Piaget design, with its conservative round case and straightforward dial, are the polar opposite of what the Bulgari has to offer visually. At its debut in late 2014, the Altiplano Chronograph held the record for being the thinnest cased up chronograph wristwatch, despite having a movement that was in fact thicker than the one found in the F. Piguet 1180. In gold, this fake watch will set you back $29,000.

$29,000; Piaget

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph 41

The movement powering this fake watch is called the Audemars Piguet 2385, but as discussed earlier, it is in fact none other than the F. Piguet/Manufacture Blancpain Caliber 1185. Though this 11mm-thick Royal Oak is about 4mm thicker than the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic, it is still slim by the standard of most mechanical chronograph calibers. Just this year, Audemars Piguet came out with a more compact 38mm version of its Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph, but that fake watch also uses a modified F. Piguet 1185, and has the same 11mm thickness. In terms of overall size and proportionality, this 41mm version is closer competition to the Octo Finissimo. In steel this fake watch is currently priced at $24,300.

$24,300; Audemars Piguet

Aquanaut Chronograph Ref. 5968A

As a steel sports fake watch from Patek Philippe, the Aquanaut Chronograph Ref. 5968A, which came out last year at Baselworld, is one of the hardest replica watches to get one's hands on at the moment. It has a Genta-esque design that taps into a similar vibe as the Octo Finissimo, and with a corner-to-corner width of 42.2mm, it's in a similar ballpark concerning size, though at 11.9mm thick, it's going to wear a good deal thicker than the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic. At $43,770, in steel this costs about 2.5 times as much as the Bulgari.

$43,770: Patek Philippe

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Titanium

If you are coming to this fake watch primarily for thinness and for the Octo Finissimo look ?and I'm sure many customers will be -then you could do far worse than the Octo Finissimo Automatic in titanium. It may lack the chronograph and GMT functions, but it does provide that look and sveltness, and at a lower price, as it should. It's also 40mm as opposed to 42, opening it up to buyers with slightly smaller wrists and those for whom the 42mm square/cushion was far too large. As I mentioned, it does cost less as well. The simple automatic is $13,900 on a bracelet ($12,800 on a strap) as opposed to $17,600 for the chronograph with GMT on a bracelet. To me, this doesn't feel like a huge difference, though, and I think I'd be inclined to save up a bit longer and get the chronograph with GMT.

$13,900 on bracelet; Bulgari

Final Thoughts

After spending a week with the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic on my wrist, I feel like I really understand what this fake watch is all about. What is that? I think it's about bleeding edge horology and thinness, sure. It's about design, too. And this is a Bulgari after all, so it's definitely about luxury and all that that entails. But I think some readers out there who have yet to try one of these replica watches on will find that it's also about comfort and wearability, particularly on models that include this excellent bracelet. I came away from my time with this latest Octo with the unexpected feeling that this record-breaking design object really could be someone's everyday watch, and that continues to surprise me.

For more information, visit Bulgari.

Bulgari A-week-on-the-wrist