Secret Deals
Close
Sign up for email alerts.

Want first access to
our secret deals?

By signing up, you agree to receive emails from Ethos Watches. Read our privacy policy for more details.

c2d76ad6bd

Q&AMore Advanced, Customised And Thinner: Bulgari’s Chief On Pushing Boundaries

Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari, tells us all we need to know about their 2024 record in slim watchmaking (with a COSC certification, at that), their Tado Ando collaboration making its debut in the Serpenti collection, and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas and the Indian audience

May We Recommend

Could you offer your perspective on the new Octo Finissimo watches and the latest Octo record?

Two years ago, we introduced a revolution in watchmaking with our Octo Finissimo Ultra, measuring just 1.8mm in thickness. It was a major innovation, since our previous Octo record was much thicker than this one. It was basically based on the principle of reducing the components, which amounted to 120 only. When you think about the complexity, we think about components. It’s not enough to shrink components. That doesn’t lead you anywhere. What you must do is to reduce the number of components in the watch and increase the number of functions each component performs, so that it frees up the space to make it slimmer. There are two crowns—one is to wind the watch and the other is to set the time. We had this big barrel with a QR code, which allows you to connect the watch to an app, giving you access to not just a certificate for the watch but also the technical information about the watch, an NFT and so on.

Bulgari BVLGARI CEO Interview Jean-Christophe Babin Octo Finissimo ultra new world record Serpenti Tadao Ando mother-of-pearl priyanka Chopra-Jonas brand ambassador titanium watch thinnest timepiece octo record
“Two years ago, we introduced a revolution in watchmaking with our Octo Finissimo Ultra, measuring just 1.8mm in thickness. It was a major innovation, since our previous Octo record was much thicker than this one,” says Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO, Bulgari

Soon after that Richard Mille introduced an even thinner watch, which was 1.75mm thick. But that watch wasn’t very user-friendly, and it required the intervention of an external tool for adjustment. Two years later, what we have done is created another version of the Octo Finissimo Ultra. We have seven patents on this one. It has two innovations. The most important thing for the for the user is that it is COSC-certified. With the kind of testing that this goes through to prove the accuracy, this immediately tells the user that it’s not a watch that you keep in your vault; it’s a watch that you can actually wear on a day-to-day basis. Another innovation is that it comes with a box that will automatically set the time to the atomic time and keep it wound so that even if you pick up the watch one week later, you’ll still have the right time and the watch will still be fully wound. And if you’re travelling, you can always reset the time to another zone on demand while the movement will offer you a power reserve of 60 hours. Is the first manual watch with the watch winder, since watch winders usually work only with automatic watches.

Bulgari BVLGARI CEO Interview Jean-Christophe Babin Octo Finissimo ultra new world record Serpenti Tadao Ando mother-of-pearl priyanka Chopra-Jonas brand ambassador titanium watch thinnest timepiece octo record
“The most important thing for the for the user is that it is COSC-certified. With the kind of testing that this goes through to prove the accuracy, this immediately tells the user that it’s not a watch that you keep in your vault; it’s a watch that you can actually wear on a day-to-day basis.” This 2024 Octo record is 1.7mm thick

And does the watch winder stop when the mainspring of the Octo record watch is fully wound?

Yes, when the main spring is fully wound, and the winder meets with a certain amount of resistance, the winding will stop.

The watch is 1.7mm and the movement is just 1.5mm, which is even thinner than the 50₵ (Swiss franc) coin, which measures 1.55mm in thickness. And then we have a new version of the Ultra Finissimo, which is the same as the 2022 edition, in terms of movement and thickness. It is 1.8mm thick but it is made from platinum and there is a new decoration on the barrel because the QR code on that previous Octo record was polarising. Not everyone was happy with it on the face of the watch, so we’ve put a smaller QR code on the caseback, through which you can access the data metrics. And by the way, now all Bulgari watches have data metrics and that’s probably a first in the industry.

Bulgari BVLGARI CEO Interview Jean-Christophe Babin Octo Finissimo ultra new world record Serpenti Tadao Ando mother-of-pearl priyanka Chopra-Jonas brand ambassador platinum watches octo record
“[The new Octo Finissimo in platinum is] 1.8mm thick but it is made from platinum and there is a new decoration on the barrel because the QR code on that previous Octo record was polarising. Not everyone was happy with it on the face of the watch, so we’ve put a smaller QR code on the caseback”

Would it be fair to say that when Richard Mille came out with their 1.75mm watch, it became a challenge for you to get back in the game and create another Octo record, even thinner?

Technically, it was a record, but the Richard Mille was not significantly thinner than what we had done before them, and at this point we were also seeking to make something that that could get the chronometer certification. The COSC requirements made us rework the components even more and that let us to get even more space to make the movement thinner. The result was about 1.75but we worked a little more on the case construction and made it even thinner, bringing it down to 1.7 mm. So what we were very clear about was that that if you want to go thinner, there has to be something more to it than just hours, minutes and seconds, and hence the COSC certification was the driving force for this one. And now if we want to go thinner, then it has to be with some kind of additional feature or complication. It’s not just about going thin for the sake of going thin. An Octo record has to mean more than that.

Bulgari BVLGARI CEO Interview Jean-Christophe Babin Octo Finissimo ultra new world record Serpenti Tadao Ando mother-of-pearl priyanka Chopra-Jonas brand ambassador titanium watch thinnest timepiece octo record octo record
“And now if we want to go thinner, then it has to be with some kind of additional feature or complication. It’s not just about going thin for the sake of going thin.” The last time-only record holder, before 2022’s Finissimo Ultra was much thicker. And the 2024 Octo record also carries a COSC certification

Could you talk about the new Bulgari Serpenti watches with the mosaic dials?

We usually make artistic collaboration timepieces with the Octo watches, since there is more space to work with, in terms of dial size.

The Watch Guide

"We usually make artistic collaboration timepieces with the Octo watches, since there is more space to work with, in terms of dial size." Seen here is an Octo FInissimo Tadao Ando edition

The Watch Guide

This Finissimo features a refined moon phase display and a small seconds hand on the minimalistic dial, apart from central timekeeping

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo
BVLGARI Octo

We came up with a new idea of playing with dials that are made of layered mother-of-pearl. These Tadao Ando watches (in collaboration with Japanese architect Tadao Ando) are mainly for an expression of the seasons and using colours that go with the seasons. There’s green for the summer, brown for autumn, icy hues for the winter, pinkish tones for spring.

The Watch Guide
"We came up with a new idea of playing with dials that are made of layered mother-of-pearl. These Tadao Ando watches are mainly for an expression of the seasons and using colours that go with the seasons. There’s green for the summer, brown for autumn, icy hues for the winter, pinkish tones for spring"

However, instead of polishing one piece mother-of-pearl, we decided to fragment the material. This is mother-of-pearl. Immediately, you see the difference because when you combine the fragments, they make sense together design-wise.

The Watch Guide

"However, instead of polishing one piece mother-of-pearl, we decided to fragment the material. This is mother-of-pearl"

The Watch Guide

"Immediately, you see the difference because when you combine the fragments, they make sense together design-wise"

It creates a different visual impact as you view the watch from different angles of light falling on it, and it makes a difference based on how you view it. And this elevation of the dial design is something that Bulgari have decided to implement across collections.

Bulgari BVLGARI CEO Interview Jean-Christophe Babin Octo Finissimo ultra new world record Serpenti Tadao Ando mother-of-pearl priyanka Chopra-Jonas brand ambassador gold watches
“It creates a different visual impact as you view the watch from different angles of light falling on it, and it makes a difference based on how you view it”

Considering your brand ambassador, actress Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, the mangalsutra, the kada, and then the big event that you had recently in Mumbai, could you comment on this surge in your focus on the Indian market?

I would say Bulgari have considered India an important market and unlike some brands, we have never left India. When the market became tough, we reduced our presence, but we never left. When it came to watches we never really had to customise our products for Indian tastes. However, with jewellery, considering that the segment is so important for India, we couldn’t simply propose jewellery as it was. We had to go one step further, and hence we decided to make our jewellery more relevant to India. With the Serpenti, we knew that yellow gold would be a better seller. And with jewellery, we thought that a Mangalsutra edition would sell. So, without compromising on our DNA, we launched the Mangalsutra with Priyanka Chopra, from the Bulgari Bulgari collection. And to complement the Mangalsutra, for the gentlemen, we brought out the kada bracelet.

Bulgari BVLGARI CEO Interview Jean-Christophe Babin Octo Finissimo ultra new world record Serpenti Tadao Ando mother-of-pearl priyanka Chopra-Jonas brand ambassador titanium watch thinnest timepiece octo record Priyanka Chopra jewellery Octo record
“We decided to make our jewellery more relevant to India. With the Serpenti, we knew that yellow gold would be a better seller. And with jewellery, we thought that a Mangalsutra edition would sell.” This is the Bulgari Mangalsutra, in yellow gold, diamonds and black onyx

Discover the Bulgari Mangalsutra here

When it came to India, we knew that we had to understand the nuances of the market, because wealth is far more fragmented than it is in China or the United States. And we also figured that we needed some pieces of jewellery that would really connect with the Indian market and Indian tradition and culture.

The Watch Guide

"We wanted a partner, so we went with Priyanka Chopra, who is not just a face of the brand but also an advisor to the brand, especially when it comes to customising jewellery that will resonate with the Indian people"

The Watch Guide

Chopra-Jonas is seen here with fellow Bulgari brand ambassadors, actresses Anne Hathaway (centre) and Zendaya

And we wanted a partner, so we went with Priyanka Chopra, who is not just a face of the brand but also an advisor to the brand, especially when it comes to customising jewellery that will resonate with the Indian people.

Bulgari BVLGARI CEO Interview Jean-Christophe Babin Octo Finissimo ultra new world record Serpenti Tadao Ando mother-of-pearl priyanka Chopra-Jonas brand ambassador anne hathaway zendaya
Jean-Christophe Babin is seen here with the Bulgari brand ambassadors, Priytanka Chopra-Jonas, Anne Hathaway and Zendaya

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *