The Bulgari Octo: Il Duomo, Florence

A design inspiration for the watch, this Florentine basilica's engineer was also a clockmaker


The next stop in our ongoing series with Bulgari is in celebration of the designs that inspired their Octo watch line, which happens to be one of the most globally recognizable basilicas: Florence, Italy’s The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore—more commonly known as Il Duomo. With towering, architectural magnificence, exceptional detail work and octagonal composition, the cathedral is truly inspiring.


While the Octo prominently features the geometry of the octagon as a central unifying element to the watch’s design—begetting both strength and elegance—so does Il Duomo. Its dome stretches to the sky, transitioning from an octagonal base to a circular point. Recognizing the balance in these shapes, Bulgari also unifies them—bringing together the aesthetic values of both shapes. The construction of Il Duomo commenced in 1296. Still today, amidst tourists and preservationists, the design holds strong—becoming iconographic. The watch line accomplishes the same, stepping away from the common round face and case. It has moved from what we know as traditional to what we know as eternal.

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Remarkably, the dome’s engineer Filippo Brunelleschi, who brought Il Duomo to life over 150 years later, also happened to be a clockmaker. In 1418, without a vision for the dome, Brunelleschi—an acclaimed architect and engineer proposed a mathematical solution for its development and completion. While this project, and others related to Il Duomo would occupy much of his life, Brunelleschi (also considered to be the creator of the first ever alarm clock) was also a master inventor and clockmaker. There, structure and form met beauty and grace. Here, all the definitive factors of Bulgari’s Octo are revealed: A masterful timepiece with structural power and clean beauty.


Oftentimes, we neglect the importance of shapes. The octagon appears across art and culture globally. From the iconic structures that dot our architectural interests to an exquisitely designed wrist watch, it is a bold choice equal parts classic and forward thinking.

The Bulgari Octo line, in stainless steel or pink gold, is available at Bulgari stores nationwide and at Bulgari. Prices range from $8,600 to $60,000.

Images courtesy of The Cathedral of S. Maria de Fiore