History of the Octo Design
Gerald Genta is one of the most revered designers and watchmakers in the watch industry from the twentieth century. He is the man responsible for none other than the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus, as well as the Omega Constellation, among others. Some of his designs were not very well received at release but, over the years, have proven to be timeless favorites among collectors and enthusiasts alike.
During his long career, Gerald Genta worked in-house at Universal Geneve, as a hired gun for Patek Philippe, and also independently when he launched his own namesake brand. The Gerald Genta brand was known for unique designs with retrograde or multi-retrograde displays in, often, avant garde cases.
Gerald Genta and Bulgari
In 1999, Bulgari acquired the Gerald Genta brand and integrated it with their own line of watches, gradually eliminating the name from the lineup, but not completely.
The Bulgari Octo Bi-Retro Brazil is a direct descendant of the Gerald Genta Octo Bi-Retro.
Many of the latter’s signature design traits remain and, even today, the Gerald Genta signature can be found on the case back and automatic rotor. As the name implies, the Octo Bi-Retro has an octagonal case design which is made from stainless steel with a satin, bead-blasted finish.
Case Features & Complications
There are sharp angles abound giving the case a chiseled, architectural look. It is 43 millimeters in diameter, excluding the crown, but wears more like 45mm due to its unique shape. The matte black ceramic bezel with rhodium “bolts” adds some contrast to the design as well. An onyx cabochon is integrated in the studded crown that refines the look of the watch. The overall fit and finish and quality of materials on this piece are very impressive.
There are many different variants within the Bulgari Octo range. They offer simple time-only, chronograph, tourbillon, and even the world’s thinnest minute repeater. The case design alone stands out among the luxury watch landscape. Yet, with the Bi-Retro, you get an additional conversation starter when you add the unique bi-retrograde, jump-hour, display.
In this configuration, the minute hand travels 210 degrees across the dial and instantly jumps back each hour. At the same time, you will see the digital hour display advance as well. This all happens so fast you really have to be watching closely to see it. Located at six o’clock is the retrograde date indication that travels 180 degrees at the end of the month.
The minutes display can be advanced forward or turned backward, and the hour and date can be advanced forward via the crown. However, the jump hour cannot be adjusted backwards. So to correct the hour indication without impacting the date, there is an adjuster button on the side of the case at nine o’clock.
This limited edition of fifty then pushes the bar even higher with an eye-catching blue, green, and yellow dial, finished in the traditional technique of champlevé where cut-outs of the dial are filled with lacquer, then baked. This gives the dial a deep color and three-dimensional look. Every single person I showed this watch to responded with, “WOW”. As you may have guessed, these colors are modeled after the Brazilian flag.
As to be expected with a watch of this level, the caseback is fitted with a sapphire crystal to show off the in-house GG7722 movement. Bulgari chose to decorate the entire caliber with circular graining which creates a dizzying effect that I’ve never seen before. Yet another interesting distinction for this piece. As previously mentioned, the movement is automatic with a uni-directional rotor that will wind the mainspring to a max of 45 hours of power reserve.
Wearing the Octo Bi-Retro Brazil
On the wrist the Bulgari Octo Bi-Retro is very wearable. While the overall dimensions are large, the case is only 12.35mm thick so, the watch sits low and flat on the wrist. It is secured with an integrated rubber strap with deployment clasp. As many have come to expect, the rubber strap lends it to be very comfortable. The cross hatch pattern of the strap gives a nice texture which allows you to wear the watch in a variety of situations. I wouldn’t think twice about pairing this watch with a suit.
The Bulgari Octo Bi-Retro Brazil is a unique watch that stands out from the rest. Also being a limited edition of only fifty in the world, you’re not likely to run into another like it. But, perhaps, what is most important is that this would definitely be the kind of watch that you look down at and smile. It’s just that good.
Read Seth’s review of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Squadra Hometime.