Last year Bulgari chose the city of Rome as the place to unveil its new timepiece collection, the Octo, because of the similarities between the city where classical architecture was founded and a watch that mirrors the values of classical design.
The Octo contains a new automatic in-house caliber (BVL 193) featuring twin barrels for a 50-hour power reserve, which is impressive in its own right. However the Octo is all about the case design. The shape is a harmonious blend of octagon and circle – two prevailing elements in the architecture of Rome. The Octo, a slimmer and more refined evolution of the larger Bulgari/Gerald Genta Octo complicated watches is a contemporary interpretation of these classical values. The case is neither round nor square, but a blend of the two shapes.
“The octagon has always conveyed countless emblematic meanings,” says Guido Terreni, head of Bulgari’s watch division, “including balance, perfection, immortality, as well as the relationship between earth and heaven, divinity and humankind. We can say that the octagon represents the eternal values of harmony and excellence toward which the human spirit has forever yearned and always will.” He references the inﬂuence of not only ancient Roman structures on the Octo design but also the Castel del Monte (Castle of the Mount) in the region of Puglia. This thirteenth-century citadel is octagonal in shape with eight towers, one at each corner, and an eight-sided courtyard in the middle. Castel del Monte is considered symbolic of knowledge in the fields of mathematics and astronomy and is protected as a World Heritage site.
Concepts such as balance, harmony, power and eternity are frequently associated with the eight-sided shape. It is also an intermediate symbol between a square (representing the earth) and a circle (representing the sky). In Medieval Europe, alchemists considered the combination of the square and the circle as an expression of perfection. The number 8 is also significant in Asian culture. It symbolizes the totality of the universe in China, and more broadly, prosperity and the embodiment of power in Asian cultures.
The in-house manufactured case is the result of a complex production process, including 110 meticulously hand-finished facets with alternating polished and satinbrushed surfaces. The black lacquered dial is entirely crafted and finished in-house. The case is offered in rose gold or steel. Functions include hours, minutes, seconds and date window.
“With such a powerful background, the shape of Octo brilliantly symbolizes Bulgari’s aesthetic in watchmaking, whose priorities are not just style and elegance, but the quest for absolute beauty, free from artifice, and therefore universal and timeless,” says Terreni. “We see the Octo as becoming an ambassador of the brand, perfectly epitomizing Bulgari’s approach to watches for men, with the most advanced Swiss-made technical features, a strong personality and a highly architectural design,” says Terreni. “Its perfect balance of structural strength and natural beauty makes Octo the perfect blend of Italian style and Swiss watchmaking
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