Tag: Building Watchmaking Buzz At Gucci
It’s been roughly a year now since Gucci watch introduced its first line of luxury timepieces – in early 2021, the company launched new luxury watches in its Grip and G-Timeless collections, as well as a new luxury line of watches with a newly developed movement. The caliber GG727.25 comes in two versions, the GG727.25A automatic and the GG727.25 tourbillon, with dials for all the new luxury watches made in Gucci’s own dial factory, Fabbrica Quadranti, which is located in Ticino, in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. The watches derive from the mind of Gucci’s maximalist creative director, Alessandro Michele, whose design language doesn’t really fit any traditional category. His influences, outlines, colors, and construction that can draw from everything from tailored men’s suits to opulent lingerie to the retro-futuristic (as in his recent collaboration with Adidas).
Gucci has been involved in selling fashion watches since as early as 1972, and the luxury watches were introduced in order to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary. Michele is deeply fascinated by jewelry – he told The New York Times back in 2015, right after he became creative director, that he wears so many rings it takes him 10 minutes to remove them when going through airport security. Given that all watches are jewelry to some extent (anywhere from parenthetically to almost entirely, depending on the watch) and Michele’s unapologetic anything-goes approach to design in general, you might expect his watch designs to exhibit the same engrossing, jazz-improv chaos of his clothing. Instead, his avowed belief that jewelry is talismanic has led to some watch designs that integrate Gucci design cues in an unexpectedly coherent, and in some ways even traditionalist, fashion.
Gucci watch is known for having a lot of different animals used as emblems or mascots, including snakes, tigers, and cats – a veritable bestiary – and one of the best-known is the bee. Bees are industrious, selfless, and hard-working but from their labor comes honey – a metaphor for hard work paying off, which has made them a popular symbol in European heraldry, and a lot of other places, too. The G-Timeless Dancing Bees tourbillon riffs off of the history of the bee as a symbol of Gucci and as a symbol of … well, lots of stuff, including royalty (going all the way back to ancient Egypt, and then the Merovingian dynasty) and fertility. The G-Timeless line is a well-established fashion watch collection at Gucci, which has been using the bee as a symbol since the 1970s, but there’s never been as extravagant an execution as this one.
The movement is from the Kering watch manufacturing center in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, which is also home to a number of other watch brands and manufacturing centers (Greubel Forsey and TAG Heuer are both headquartered there). The bees are mounted on tiny pivots and they jiggle back and forth when you move your wrist, hence the name, Dancing Bees. The dances performed by actual bees are navigation instructions to other bees – it’s how they tell their bee buds in what direction to fly, and how far to fly, in order to find a new cache of flowers dripping with nectar – and someday, someone is going to come up with a complication that lets you input distance and direction from your location and produce a bee dance. Until then, the G-Timeless line looks pretty, ah, sweet, hahahaha. I mean I’m as cynical as the next retro-grouch about fashion watches but the one we had in to shoot, with its tiger eye stone dial, was a real honey (you’re welcome).
Another one of the replica watches Gucci sent us was this one – a 25H Tourbillon in a platinum case, on a platinum bracelet. Platinum is a metal that, oddly enough for a precious metal, doesn’t have a whole lot of history surrounding it in terms of symbolism and iconography and that’s probably because it didn’t come into widespread use until fairly recently. It wasn’t until the 1800s that it was widely recognized as a distinct chemical element and its properties were reasonably well understood, and in watch design, it really came into its own during the Art Deco era, when companies like Cartier made the dense, heavy, lustrous white metal synonymous with understatedly opulent luxury.
Unlike the Dancing Bees G-Timeless tourbillon, the platinum 25H is almost stubbornly anti-luxury while, in terms of materials and complications, sitting squarely at the upper end of luxury watchmaking; of the watches we had in from Gucci this might the one that most captures Michele’s tendency to mix high and low in terms of materials and design idioms. It’s kind of a cliché to relate watches to Brutalist architecture – at least some watches, which tend to repeatedly invite the comparison – but the 25H in heavy, dense, lustrous platinum really fits the bill. This is not so much traditional fine watchmaking as it is a sort of comment on traditional fine watchmaking and it’s going to appeal, on the one hand, to Gucci diehards with deep pockets and on the other … I don’t know, to a very small segment of serious watch enthusiasts who never met an ironically, deadpan-camp take on a tourbillon that they didn’t like.
If you prefer your ironically deadpan-camp take on luxury fine watchmaking just a little bit closer to conventional luxury, you can get the 25H Tourbillon in yellow gold. Here, we’re on more familiar ground – there’s a little bit of a gold Patek Nautilus vibe going on, although the 25H does not have the earnest, sincere, unapologetic appeal to raw and un-nuanced luxury instincts that you get with the Nautilus. There’s obviously no comparing the Gucci 25H Tourbillon, in either gold or platinum, to the Nautilus (or any other classic luxury sports watch, like the Vacheron 222 or the Royal Oak) in terms of watchmaking content or history, but I will say, it doesn’t take much imagination to wear a Royal Oak or a Nautilus but it does take some (as well as figurative if not actual cojones) to wear a Gucci tourbillon.
And then there’s this guy, which is perhaps the most overtly Michele-ian watch out of all of them. Behold the Gucci Grip, with a malachite dial, jumping hours and minutes, and baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel and lugs. My first question when I heard about the collection (which has been around for a while in quartz but which, as of 2021, is also mechanical, in case the rotor didn’t tip you off) was what the name “Grip” means and why it was chosen for the collection. Normally I’d have considered it both my civic and professional duty to just look it up or ask Gucci replica watch directly, but there are times in life when you realize that we all need a little mystery, and that a sense of naive wonder is a thing far, far too easily lost in this our degenerate age of instant information gratification.