In the pdf provided in the 2016 Octo press kit, Bulgari dedicates just one sentence to the Octo Velocissimo Chronograph. “For a sportier look, one may opt for the Octo Velocissimo Chronograph powered by the BVL 328 calibre, a high-performance movement capable of displaying the flow of time to the nearest tenth of a second.” In a more general paragraph describing the entire collection, Bulgari say, “Octo Ultranero is an authentic style factor resolutely dedicated to modern men.”
So for Bulgari this watch is an expression of style, a way of creating a fashionable sporty look. The 41mm Octo case is sleek, slim and stylish, with an integrated rubber strap. There are two versions, one with black DLC bezel, and one with a pink gold bezel. Both are 13.07 mm thick and water-resistant to 100 metres. The chronograph pushers are superbly incorporated into the overall design and resemble crown protectors.
The watch has some prestige technical factors. The movement, the Velocissimo BVL 328, can be viewed through the sapphire caseback, and it’s a spectacular view, with column wheel, skeletonized oscillating weight and gears in view. It runs at 36,000 vibrations per hour (5 Hertz) which justifies the tenth-of-seconds scale at the edge of the dial. It is described as a manufacture movement (in-house), but in actual fact it is the El Primero movement by Zenith, a company belonging to the LVMH group that also owns Bulgari.
As occasionally happens for most brands, there are products that that seem to have been dedicated less attention than others, that have been quickly put together to complete a collection. While the three-hand Ultranero has the date window nicely incorporated into the dial design at three o’clock, the Velocissimo chronograph has it slewed diagonally and positioned at 4.30. In the gold bezel version, counting the minutes of a measured interval of time is not going to be easy, with a subdial marked with just a series of identical minute markers and three numerals, 10, 20, 30.
The black bezel version has a different dial design, with subdials outlined in gold and a chronograph minutes subdial with longer markers at the 5-minute marks, but all the same, you get the impression of a watch that has been designed as a fashion accessory and not as a practical time-measuring instrument. Which is a pity, considering the prestige of the El Primero movement.
I have another small issue with the chronograph seconds hand. From the photos provided by Bulgari, it looks like the seconds hand corresponds exactly with the tenths-of-seconds scale at the centre of the octagonal facets. I’m pretty sure that in the corners of the octagonal scale, the seconds hand won’t correspond to the scale, and all that tenth-second precision of the 5 Hertz movement will be lost, sacrificed on the altar of fashion.
So, in conclusion, it’s a cool watch designed for purchasers looking for a sporty watch that complements their smart casual outfit to perfection. In this it succeeds admirably. In the black bezel version, the Bulgari Octo Velocissimo Chronograph costs €9,950; in the gold bezel version, the price is €12,600.