Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic, “Tadao Ando” Limited Edition, Titanium

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This Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic is one of 200 pieces from the Tadao Ando Limited Edition, designed in collaboration with the renowned Japanese architect. The piece combines Bulgari’s bold geometric case design with a pared back dial featuring a spiral motif, further accentuating the watch’s minimalist, almost postmodern, feel.

The Battle for the World’s Thinnest Watch

For as long as watches have been appearing on wrists, thinness has been a measure of quality.

The closer a timepiece can hug one’s arm, the higher its quality was assumed to be. This used to, as it still does today, come from the difficulty of producing a mechanical timepiece that lacks any thickness. As technologies and innovative thinking evolved, the height of a watch shrunk. There was a time where the flattest pieces were considered the smartest around, slipping under any self-respecting dinner suit sleeve.

Today, this technological battle is being fought mainly between two brands, Piaget and Bulgari. While Piaget have far more pedigree in this arena, many see Bulgari as the leading players. The man behind this push to go ever thinner is their Product Creation Executive Director, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani. Now with eight world records under his belt at the brand, it’s clear that slimming a watch as a cornerstone of its design is something Bulgari is highly accomplished at.

Some of the original design sketches by Stigliani for the Finissimo line.

'The difference between now and the way things were during the 1970s and 80s is all down to the technology we have available,' Stigliani told A Collected Man. 'The way the design of these very thin watches has to be approached today is similar to that of designing a Formula One car – there is so little material to play with and the constraints are enormous, but the technology makes it possible.

'It's necessary to develop special machinery to manufacture the components, and we have to be incredibly careful how we decorate them in order to prevent them becoming too fragile to be practical – our aim with the Octo Finissimo range, you see, was not simply to make ultra-thin watches but to create an entirely new way in which to wear a grand complication watch.

'And they are made to be worn a lot – my own Finissimo has been on my wrist for more than three years, it has never been serviced, I have fallen off my bicycle with it twice and it still works perfectly' he says.