This Bulgari Beauty Is the World’s Thinnest Chiming Replica Watch

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When Bulgari designers set out to build the world’s thinnest chiming watch, their goal was to blow the dust off of what typically is a very classical complication. “Minute repeaters are usually an expression of an old-fashioned way, a traditional way—they are expressions of aesthetic codes of the past,” says Guido Terreni, managing director of Bulgari Replica Watches. According to Terreni, Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is designed to be used. “We wanted the minute repeater to be on the client’s wrist, not stay in the safe,” explains Terreni. “We wanted to create an object that was for daily wear.” The watch’s svelte profile at 6.85 mm thick certainly encourages that.

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As Terreni points out, superthin movements are not simply available for purchase from suppliers, they have to be developed in-house. While Bulgari had acquired the skill sets for building exceptional chiming watches through the purchase of the Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth brands in 2000, it had to cultivate its own expertise in ultrathin movements starting with the Octo Finissimo Petite Seconde.

“We could reproduce everything that we learned in all these decades of making chiming watches; the challenge was to do it in such a small height,” says Terreni, who notes that they could have gone even slimmer if they had chosen to. “We could have gone down to 2.9 or 2.88 mm, but then the main plate would have been very delicate. And when you have the push button or lever, the pressure could deform the plate.” So, for the sake of reliability, the caliber BVL 362 movement measures 3.12 mm.

The technical aspect of the design merges with the aesthetic in the brand’s choice of titanium for the case material. Finissimo’s faceted, sandblasted titanium case not only endows it with bold, disruptive character, it also enhances performance, because in addition to being modern, lightweight, and robust, titanium is also an excellent conductor of sound. “My idea as a designer is that the material has to define the product itself,” says Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, director of fake Bulgari watch design department. “We chose titanium not just for the quality of sound, but also for the texture and the color.”

But for Stigliani, an Italian with a background in industrial design, the golden design rule of form follows function is not enough. “For me, it’s more about beauty follows function,” he says. “Italian design merges beauty and functionality in a completely different way. Our replica watches are not driven only by performance. The performance is a part of our design, but the aesthetic motif has exactly the same importance. Italian design is very difficult to explain, because it is a very unique mix of functionality, aesthetic beauty, and sense
of proportions.”

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Bulgari also chose titanium for the sliver of a dial, dispensing with applied indexes and instead laser cutting the hour markers and Bulgari’s signature 12 into the metal. This innovative approach not only lends the design its pure, contemporary appeal, it also enables the sound to travel through the entire case, which is a must when you are working with such compact space. The unprecedented notion of an ultrathin minute repeater could be viewed as a contradiction in terms, says Terreni. “When you have a minute repeater, you need case volume to chime, because it’s an issue of acoustic resonance,” he explains. “It’s the case that produces the sound.”

At its heart and soul, a minute repeater is a musical instrument that must be fine-tuned for optimal sound. In addition to using titanium for the case and dial for heightened acoustic resonance, Bulgari has fitted the movement with traditional round, steel gongs to achieve the purest, ideal tones without a clanging metallic quality.

And while Bulgari’s master watchmakers apply time-honored tuning skills to the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater, the brand is also using cutting-edge technology. The replica watch is put to the test with a special machine that measures sound quality far beyond the limits of the human ear. It assesses the purity of the notes, as well as the intensity and pacing over the course of the chime. It also boasts the capability to isolate and analyze each hammer, like a mixing board in a recording studio. After all, this is, as Bulgari intended, not your grandfather’s minute repeater.

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Bulgari Octo Finissimo Replica Watch Hands-On

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A couple years ago in 2014, Bulgari quietly introduced the Octo Finissimo collection that currently contains various versions of this “standard” Octo Finissimo and the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon that remains the thinnest tourbillon watch in the world. The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon is clearly a very cool watch, but at over four times the price of this already lavish model, it exists in another product category altogether. “Standard” in this context is a relative term, as the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is still very much a high-end luxury replica watch coming in both an 18k pink gold case (ref. 102371 BGOP40BGLXT), as well as a model in platinum (ref. reference 102028 BGO40BPLXT).

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The Bulgari Octo Finissimo is really very thin. I will get to the movement in a moment, but at just 5mm thick, the entire case of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo feels as though it is a mere continuation of the strap. I should mention that the case thicknesses vary just a bit among the three currently available versions. Bulgari replica produces another platinum model with a diamond-set bezel (reference 102373 BGO40PDLXT) that is 5.75mm thick (understandable, because the stones add thickness), and the 18k pink gold model is just a hair thicker than the 5mm-thick platinum model, being 5.15mm thick – a size difference you aren’t likely to even notice.

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At 40mm wide with a mostly square shape, these aren’t small-wearing timepieces either, and for me, they really epitomize in a lot of ways the absolute loveliness of modern “ultra-thin” replica watches. My appreciation of modern thin watches really began back in 2010 with the release of the Piaget Altiplano 43. In the abstract, I could appreciate the notion of a slim-wearing – yet not small in diameter – dress watch, but it wasn’t until I put the watch on, enjoying the remarkably thin profile, that I became enamored with the concept. After Piaget, a lot of other historically proficient watchmakers started to come out with more “ultra-thin” replica watches, hearkening to a fascination with thin movements that goes back generations. Either a lost art making a comeback, or something that has been around all the time and is entering a new era of appreciation, I think there are a lot of collectors out there who would or already do enjoy a bold-wearing yet very thin timepiece such as this.

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The Gerald Genta-based Octo watch collection has become a real icon in the Bulgari collection, and I think that the Bulgari Octo Finissimo benefits from the fact that it exists as part of a larger collection of Octo fake watches. It just wouldn’t have the same “branding” power as it does without there being other versions of the Octo in less slim cases. Thus, wearers have the benefit of the notoriety of the Octo, but with a special movement and super slick, thin profile. It is almost crazy how impossibly thin this watch looks on your wrist.

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Bulgari has improved on the legibility of the dial which at first was matted by a super glossy black lacquer dial and polished applied hour markers and hands. In gold, the dial looks particularly nice, actually – but with that said, the Octo-style case does happen to look super nice in the steel/white gold/platinum tone. You might be wondering what the Octo case (which is normally thicker) looks like… well, “flattened.” I was sort of concerned about this, but in most ways, the case is almost exactly the same at the standard Octo – just a few millimeters thinner. Retained is the attractive contrast polishing with mostly brushed surfaces but also some nice polished surfaces which are most easily noticed from the side. Set into the crown is a black ceramic cabochon.

Attached to the Bulgari Octo Finissimo case is a tapered alligator strap which is stitch-less thanks to its “rolled side” construction (which I almost universally prefer in alligator or crocodile straps on dress watches).

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Inside the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is the in-house-made Bulgari caliber BVL 128 manually wound movement that is the heart of this “extra-thin” package. The movement is just 2.23mm thick (oddly, a bit thicker than the 1.95mm thick movement in the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon), which is really very thin. Fake Bulgari Watches was able to do this partially because of how wide the movement is – and another benefit of the watch is that when you view the movement through the sapphire crystal caseback it fills up much of the case.

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The BVL 128 movement operates at a modern 4Hz and has a long power reserve (for a movement this thin) of 70 hours. The movement indicates the hours and minutes with an off-centered subsidiary seconds dial. Wonderfully, Bulgari decided to include a power reserve indicator on the rear of the movement – a feature that, for me, really ups the “want” level because I feel that power reserve indicators are almost a must (subjective choice) when it comes to manually wound fake watches. Otherwise, I just compulsively wind the watch all the time.

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It isn’t cheap, and it isn’t perfect for everyone, but it is original, horologically cool, and really pretty. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo is probably one of the most underrated pretty yet masculine dress watches around – and it is comfortable and useful to boot. So my question is if replica Bulgari would ever produce one in steel? Hard to say, but I don’t think it will be anytime soon. Still, the prices aren’t that bad for what you get. This reference 102028 BGO40BPLXT Bulgari Octo Finissimo in platinum is priced at $298, and with diamonds in platinum it goes up to $401. In 18k pink gold, the reference 102371 BGOP40BGLXT feels like a relative bargain at $229.

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How Bulgari Replica Watch Dials Are Manufactured In-House In La Chaux-De-Fonds

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The dial is often called the “face of the watch,” and there is very good reason for that. For anyone who has ever seen a genuinely beautifully detailed dial – or a horribly made, illegible one, for that matter – the importance of the components’ quality is certainly unquestionable. Complicated-looking dials can be made cheaply, and remarkably simple-looking ones can require hours or days of painstaking work to get right. Beyond case and movement manufacturing, the age-old craft of dial manufacturing is practiced in-house at “Bvlgari Manufacture de Cadrans,” in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

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Watch and clock faces have been around for as long as timekeeping machines have been in existence, but that is not to say there have not been tremendous leaps forward when it comes to advancements in manufacturing and decorating techniques. In 2005, Bulgari acquired Cadrans Design SA in La Chaux-de-Fonds. This famous and well-respected facility that specializes in the manufacturing of highly detailed and complex watch dials had already been working on watch dials for Bulgari Replica at the time.

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While a lot has been said about the remarkable challenges and unfathomably small machining tolerances in watch movement manufacturing, watch dials deserve just as much attention – if not more! As obvious as it may sound, the dial plays a prominent role in defining the key aesthetic characteristics of a timepiece and is subject to close scrutiny by the wearer. As such, integrating the vast know-how and experience of an established manufacture into Bulgari’s group of production facilities was important, and an ideal way of ensuring extremely high quality standards and constant development.

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The image just above beautifully illustrates the major steps in dial manufacturing: beginning with design (which in and of itself is a process that requires painstaking work from the leaders, designers, and engineers of the company), the visual plans are translated into extremely accurate engineering drawings which allow for high precision manufacturing.

Right below, you see a detail from such a technical drawing, with exact measurements down to 1/100th of a millimeter, as well as exact angles for all arches and other curved elements of the dial specified. What may seem a straightforward execution of beautiful visual drawings actually is precision engineering hard at work behind the creation of every watch dial ever produced.

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With the drawings in place, actual production can begin, and that more often than not means: stamping. Stamping the brass base of the dial works so well because with today’s more precise tools the basic three-dimensional shape of the dial as well placeholders for indices and the holes for the pinions holding the hands can be produced quickly and efficiently.

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Some other components, like the outlines of this swan and the complex geometric shapes of its surroundings, as well as the rounded sockets for the diamonds, all have been cut by numerically controlled cutting machines. This allows the craftsman to get to work on a canvas made to extremely accurate measurements, before setting the dial with precious stones and hand painting it with enamel.

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When it comes to dial production, a virtually infinite number of color variations are possible – which is a good and a bad thing at the same time. Hand-painted lacquered or enameled watch faces aside, dials are colored with a technique called electroplating. This includes the fitting of dials onto a tool – that looks like the product of a small clothes hanger and a cactus having exchanged DNA – only for the cut out brass plates to be then submerged into a number of baths – suitable for metal, not suitable for your hand.

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The dials must spend a specific amount of time submerged – “specific” meaning precise to the nearest second when it comes to the production of blue dials. Remove the plates from the baths one moment too soon or too late, and the chemical reactions will yield a different shade of color.

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After having plated and inspected the dials to ensure they have reached the desired color, they are cleaned and sent over to hand polishing. Similar to, but in fact much less abrasive and vicious than case polishing, dial polishing is performed by hand to ensure a deep, even sheen that will serve as the backdrop to all prints, indices, and of course, the hands.

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Polished individually or up to four pieces at a time, polishing wheels of different levels of abrasiveness are used to remove any hairline scratches that may have occurred during previous steps and then to further smooth the surface. At the end of this painstaking process, the resulting gloss will render this few-millimeter-thick plate of brass or other metal infinitely deep to the eye – a sight to behold before and after the dial is cased up.

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One fascinating detail on watch dials often overlooked – and under-appreciated – is just how legible and sharp print has to be, regardless of the size and type of font used. Surprisingly, such precision printing is achieved through an old technique called “pad printing.” The process involves a trained and experienced craftsman and a hand-operated machine, comprising a metal plate with cutouts for the text, a rubber “tampon,” and a precision holder for the dial.

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The craftsman applies paint to the metal plate on the right, and after removing the excess, the dye remains only inside the barely visible cutouts for the text. As the rubber carrier is pressed onto the metal plate by hand, it picks up the paint from the text cutouts – then, as it is gently pressed onto the dial, the text is transferred onto the dial with remarkable accuracy. The key to success here is applying the right amount of pressure to transfer the paint accurately, but to not damage or bend the dial in the process.

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Bulgari not only installs indices here in La Chaux-de-Fonds, but is now capable of manufacturing these often infinitesimal components in-house. Always applied by hand, the indices are never glued, but secured to the dial with two or more barely visible metal feet that protrude through the dial. Handling the lacquered, polished, and printed dials requires extreme care, as the slip of a hand or a tool will damage the treated surface and the dial is scrapped!

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Watch dials, regardless their shapes and sizes, can be hand-painted with enamel and/or set with diamonds – this rare piece depicting a swan and featuring a large circular cutout to display a tourbillon is just one example. These dials are individually decorated by the same craftsmen and craftswomen, working in what may be the most quiet and relaxing room in the entire manufacture. Two or three of them at most work in this environment set up for efficient but relaxed work, where some of the most complex and high-end Bulgari dials are produced.

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Repeated a number of times through the production process but always being the final step is quality control. Dials are checked under an electro-microscope with the image transmitted by the magnifier being superimposed with an engineering drawing, allowing the actual piece and the desired design to be compared.

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Manufactured in-house by Bulgari Replica Watches, the work and efforts of dozens of dedicated people – designers, engineers, and craftsmen alike – results in a component that could stand on its own as a desirable item one would love to behold. And yet, it is just one of the hundreds of parts that make up a finely made Bulgari timepiece.

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