Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

A light review of a butterfly: Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

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Where many brands stick to a more conservative time display, the Roman jewellery Maison Bulgari packs a 24 jumping hours, a central tourbillon and an unusual minutes display in its lovely Roma case. Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon presents in a subtle manner a highly desired set of complications and technological know-how.

Bulgari Central Tourbillon Papillon benefits from the technical know-how that the Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth acquisitions brought when the group made the step twenty years ago. The hardcore collectors will easily recognise elements from the mentioned names. The watch is a new smaller, non-limited edition iteration of the Papillon wristwatch launched a few years ago.

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

History, heritage, horology

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon is cased in the lovely Roma case. The 41mm rose gold case is a more rounded and elegant version of the Octo case. This cosmetic change was added in 2017 making the larger watches more approachable. Don’t get me wrong, I love the bold and strong lines of Octo, but on larger size is a bit intimidating. Plus, this more “natural” shape makes it much easier to digest in a normal environment, being less evident. And sometimes, a bit of restraining is just what you need.

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

The case was decorated with a multitude of brushed surfaces with some polished accents on the bezel side and lugs. The crown retains its usual Octo style with a black ceramic insert. Noteworthy to mention that Bulgari’s Octo case is inspired by the Basilica Nova (Basilica of Maxentius, the Roman Forum) in Rome.

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

A sapphire crystal reveals the interesting architecture of the in-house Calibre BVL 332. The watch is fitted with a black alligator strap and a comfortable rose gold folding clasp.

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

24 hours  in black and gold

“Black and gold” remains as one of the most spectacular ways to display… anything. The Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon is a superb technological implementation of the theme. A 24 hours jumping hour is displayed via a golden aperture on the highest point of the watch face. I am a bit wondering why Bulgary did not go for the same gold printed on black theme as seen for minutes (and the rest of the dial).

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

While the central tourbillon is a spectacular show, the minutes’ display equals in complexity. A semi-circular minute track is printed from 3 to 9 o’clock. The minutes are displayed by two hands placed on a rotating disk. The active hand points the minutes on track while the resting hand is turned 90 degrees on its own axis not to interfere with the rest of the dial. This simple choice of featuring the mechanic complication also helps in legibility, making everything more intuitive.

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

When the active hand reaches the last 5 minutes, the resting hand is activated being turned to reach the 00 minutes track. A not simple but efficient way for great legibility. In comparison with the more spectacular retrograde system, this papillon mechanism uses less energy and is not as sensible as the retrograde. This permits an impressive 60 hours of power reserve – quite useful for a hand-wound movement.

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

The central show is taken by the eye-catching flying tourbillon. A complication in complication, placing the tourbillon centrally creates a series of difficulties for the gear train. Due to the lack of classic hands, the watchmakers had the chance to optimise the position of the gear train in a more favourable and robust way. The tourbillon is placed in the centre of the dial with a grey metal sunray brushing background. Again I am wondering why Bulgari did not opt for black background – this would, even more, highlight the complication.

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

For the back of the watch, Bulgari chose a mat metallic slate finish with some openings that reveal the gear train. We can observe the entire path, from the barrel to the tourbillon axis. A power reserve indication was nicely introduced in this dark environment using gold details. The watch does not excel in ultra-fine decoration but is nicely worked and is well balanced.

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

A battle between subtle and bold?

I find the Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon an intriguing piece. The watch struggles to find in my mind a place between an elegant and subtle implementation of hard-core complication and the typical bold style of the Roman Maison. I hear a scream for attention muted by a clever choice of a neutral theme (as neutral as black and gold can be). You can compare it with a beautiful woman that is also extremely smart – an attractive combination that not many men are able to handle. It is likewise intimidating as desirable.

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon

Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon Technical Specifications

Ref.: 103475 – $129,000


  • Mechanical hand-wound Calibre BVL 332 Manufacture movement,
  • central flying tourbillon,
  • minutes indication by means of a patented device with two rose gold Papillon hands,
  • 24-hour jumping hour display via a disc on a ceramic ball bearing,
  • power-reserve indicator on the back;
  • 21,600 vph (3Hz),
  • 30 jewels;
  • 60-hour power reserve;
  • 330 components.
  • Diameter: 34 mm; thickness: 8.76 mm.

Case & Dial

  • 41mm rose gold case,
  • transparent sapphire back,
  • rose gold crown with black ceramic insert.
  • Black matt dial with opening revealing the tourbillon cage and the Papillon system.


  • Matt black alligator strap,
  • rose gold folding clasp.

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