New Releases Watches

A New Look for Bulgari’s Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon

Bulgari Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon

It’s LVMH watch week which means plenty of shiny new releases from the likes of TAG Heuer, Zenith and Hublot. The shiniest of those however is Bulgari, who are showcasing their Italian jewel heritage with plenty of eye-catching new haute joaillerie watches. Which we’re going to gloss over entirely in favour of the incredible new look of the Bulgari Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon.

Bulgari is a tour de force in the rarefied world of chiming watches. Their Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is a work of genius and last year’s Octo Roma Carillon was a magnificent feat of fine watchmaking that, this year, sees a new, more modern look. Not that the 2021 model was exactly classical; the grille dial and the angular, faceted lugs and bezel that define the Octo collection wouldn’t exactly fit in Breguet’s line-up. Rather than the previous black version with a couple of silver touches, this time Bulgari’s gone for a striking combination of silver and blue.

Bulgari Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon case

First, we should probably go over what a Carillon is. Rather than a minute repeater, which chimes minutes and hours in two different tones, or the Grand Sonnerie essentially doubles that, the Carillon lands in-between. Bulgari’s plays C notes for hours, E notes for minutes, and a three-note melody – E D C – for the quarters.

To keep the profile (relatively) slim, those gongs are stacked atop each other around the edge of the watch, attaching them directly to the case for a cleaner, clearer sound. The inner workings are an essay unto themselves, which you can probably tell at a glance from the grille-like dial.

Bulgari Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon

The necessarily large 44mm case of the Bulgari Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon is made from a combination of platinum, white gold and blued titanium, continuing the striking silver and blue colourway through the profile of the piece as well as the front. Yet the construction has been chosen for far more than its good looks – the entirety of the case is geared towards getting the sound of the gongs to your ears.

Mirroring the blued titanium dial, the mid-case also has slots around its entire periphery. The platinum caseback too has open slots around the exhibition window. Given the position of the gongs around the edge of the case, these slots are vital for amplifying their chimes.

The white gold chime activation pusher and winding crown don’t have quite the same impact; they’re more for tactility’s sake than sound. But they still add a touch more nuance to a piece where there’s already a lot going on. And there is a lot going on.

Bulgari Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon

The BVL428 hand-wound minute repeater tourbillon movement is visible front and back, hammers, gongs and all, enough that the tourbillon at 6 o’clock seems comparatively unremarkable. Overall, the movement is a sight to behold, not least because it’s been blued itself. The broad, flat planes on the reverse make a solid contrast to the dial-side but it’s a technical marvel from any angle. The movement also has a 75-hour power reserve, impressive for any complication of this scale.

Sure, the Carillon of 2021 was ground-breaking and sure, Bulgari could have simply re-issued the watch in a new blue and silver colouring. It would have been a headline-grabber. Instead, they’ve doubled down on their chiming expertise and refined the piece both aesthetically and technically. I’m not saying they’ve perfected it quite yet… but it’s pretty damn close.

Price & Specs:

Model: Bulgari Octo Roma Blue Carillon Tourbillon
Reference: 103627
Case/dial: 44mm diameter x 12.83mm height, platinum case, blue titanium skeletonised dial
Movement: In-house BVL428 calibre, manual winding, 36 jewels
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 75h
Functions: Hours, minutes, minute repeater, three-hammer carillon tourbillon, power-reserve indicator
Strap: Blue alligator leather
Price/availability: $317,000, limited to 30 pieces

More details at Bulgari.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.