This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 Issue of the WatchTime print magazine.
Like a second time-zone complication, but better, a world timer provides a more complete function that is useful, and even essential, for travelers in today’s globalized world. The Bulgari Octo Roma WorldTimer offers an amazingly simple, instantaneous and accurate reading of time around the globe. Our test confirms it.
While Bulgari recently set a new world record with its Octo Finissimo Ultra, the Octo Roma WorldTimer plays a significant role in another area that is no less interesting. Quite the opposite. Watches with time-zone or even worldtime functions have become more important than ever in our globalized lives, and not only for today’s international travelers. With the Octo Roma WorldTimer, you can keep an eye on the whole world in a simple and clear way — even from your desk in your office or at home.
Either way, this timepiece is geared toward sophisticates of all sorts and not just to the men who travel the world. The Bulgari Octo Roma WorldTimer, measuring 41 mm across and only about 12 mm high, looks great on a woman’s wrist, too. The Gérald Genta case design is one of the most famous and emblematic in the world of haute horlogerie, boasting 58 different facets for this Octo Roma WorldTimer. The round, downward sloping bezel is as striking as the multifaceted case body and the angular lugs. The Octo case structure has no sharp angles and is anything but ordinary or boring. Our test watch is the bead-blasted black DLC (diamondlike carbon)-coated steel version, but another model is also available with a stainless-steel case with brushed and polished finishes.
Four polished black screws attach the transparent exhibition caseback, providing an excellent view of automatic in-house Caliber BVL257. With its integrated world-time function, the movement is operated by a double-knurled screw-down crown made of DLC-coated stainless steel with a ceramic inlay. Together, the crown and screwed caseback ensure the Octo Roma WorldTimer is water resistant to 100 meters.
The small but well-designed crown is easy to grasp and turn and is used to perform all settings. First, position the city in the desired time zone at 12 o’clock by unscrewing the crown and pulling it to the middle position. This allows the city ring at the outer dial edge to be advanced in either direction. Two offset rows list 24 cities — from Rome to Samoa, from Bangkok to New York — representing the world’s 24 time zones. The list also highlights the world of Bulgari. For example, the popular travel destination St. Barth represents the Caribbean rather than the more well-known island of Bermuda, since St. Barth embodies both the luxury of the region and the high ideals of Bulgari. Other cities are included where Bulgari owns a hotel, such as Dubai and Beijing, or has plans to open one, such as Tokyo. Once the city ring has been positioned, the exact time can be set by pulling the crown to the outermost position. This also allows for the counterclockwise advancement of the 24-hour ring, which is located between the outer city ring and the inner dial, which shows the classic display of hours, minutes and seconds. When positioning the hands, care must be taken to ensure that the 24-hour display aligns with the previously selected time zone. Once this is done, these simple settings make it surprisingly easy to read the time in all 24 time zones of the world. The 24-hour display always corresponds to the time setting, not only for the selected city, but for any location around the globe.
When traveling to another time zone, you’ll adjust the time accordingly and then, using the middle crown position, reset the reference city to the 12 o’clock position. The 24-hour ring is linked with the 12-hour time indication, so once it has been set, it will also advance in the same way. The setting will always be correct, at all times, amazingly simple and perfect.
The new world-time function is powered by a modified movement, consisting of 261 components, which was developed and produced by the manufactory in Le Sentier. Compared to Bulgari’s world-record movements, in-house Caliber BVL257 is simple, but as its functionality shows, its technology should not be underestimated.
The automatic movement is based on the BVL191 that is modified and expanded to display 24 time zones at once. It offers a power reserve of 42 hours, which is comparatively short by today’s standards. Remarkable within the architecture is a sturdy balance bridge for added stability and a refined automatic bridge with an integrated reverser mechanism for automatic winding. This allows for the caliber’s thin structure and the overall slimness of the watch. And last but not least, we should mention the precise finishing with côtes de Genève extending over the rotor and bridges, which contributes to a look that’s more technical than refined, while underscoring the functionality of the movement as expressed on the dial.
Despite the world-time indication, the signature Bulgari time display is front and center, directly in the center of the black bead-blasted dial. The bold, distinctive elongated markers — most notably, the numerals 12 and 6 — are placed inside the inner section of the circular dial. The black dauphine hands for the hours and minutes are faceted, polished and filled with Super-LumiNova. They glow bright green like the markers and numerals. The black seconds hand remains dark, however, and is sometimes difficult to see, even during the day.
But it’s not really a problem, since your attention is drawn to the large-dimensioned world-time indication rather than the smaller unit of time. The perception of time in the individual regions of the world is a satisfying experience. Straightforward typography and strong black-and-white contrast support easy and instantaneous readability.
The watch comes with a textured black rubber strap, which is a bit stiff when new but becomes supple with wear. It is equipped with a classic black DLC-coated stainless-steel pin buckle. With matte and polished areas, the clasp reflects the bold and angular shapes of the case and completes the Octo Roma WorldTimer’s worldly look.