By Nancy Olson
It is no easy feat to produce a chiming watch, whose aural delights add further intrigue to its timekeeping capabilities. A case is no longer just a case, for example, when it is also a vehicle to enhance sound. So, too, a movement steps up its commitment by offering not only precise time-telling, but also, as in this case, a three-hammer carillon. Bulgari’s new Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon offers an admirable example of this dual expression of fine Swiss watchmaking, and it sets a high bar for both.
Bulgari is well known for its highly complicated watches, and its opus includes a variety of chiming timepieces with two, three and four hammers—from the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater to the Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie. Owing to their complexity, these watches can comprise up to 1,200 components, as in the four-hammer Grande Sonnerie. This new Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon is commensurate in its intricacy, and each of its many elements is designed with sound in mind.
The Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon features a 44mm black DLC-coated titanium case designed to enhance the power and quality of the sound it generates, allowing for increased torque of the three-hammer construction. The open-worked middle case is also fashioned from titanium, with three openings that correspond to the three chimes: one for the hours, one for the quarter hours and one for the minutes.
The timepiece is powered by the new in-house manually wound Caliber BVL428, with minute repeater, three-hammer carillon, tourbillon and a power reserve indicator (75 hours). The hammers, handmade gongs, tourbillon cage and perforated surfaces are crafted in steel; the mainplate and bridges are treated with PVD in deep black. The watch has a transparent sapphire crystal caseback for ease of ogling this incredible—and incredibly sophisticated— movement.
The collection is very limited, and each of the 15 pieces available is engraved with its number within the series on the white gold crown, which is complemented by a black ceramic insert. A black rubberized alligator leather strap with a three-blade DLC-coated titanium folding clasp completes the elegantly monochromatic look. Be prepared though, it will set you back just about $259,000.