Major fashion brands often use high-end timepieces in their product lines as halo products or accessories of their core clothing business. The watches help elevate the brand’s image and appeal to customers who are looking for a complete brand experience. However, it also creates a conflict in the mind of discerning watch-wearers, who feel fashion brands tend to trivialise the engineering that goes into creating world-class timepieces.
Gucci timepieces, though, standout as an anomaly in this space. The brand has been a major player in the watch business for over two decades now. Gucci began consolidating its position in the watch business in 1997 by acquiring Severin Montres, its contract watch manufacturer and distributor for over 20 years, and renaming the Lengnau, Switzerland, based company as Gucci Timepieces. Two years later, it took over Sanofi Beaute, which owned the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Roger & Gallet. Subsequently, it also acquired a 70 per cent stake in Sergio Rossi, and took over the Boucheron International group, all of which helped make Gucci a leading name in the high-end watch business.
With so much legacy, it is not surprising that Gucci is now synonymous with watches as well. While fashion brands often have to balance the utilitarian nature of watches with an individual sense of style, standalone watchmakers have no such compulsions. This makes Gucci’s efforts all the more commendable. Here, we look at two new pieces that capture the essence of Gucci’s leading position in the watch industry, in terms of both looks and engineering.
While style has been a hallmark of the Gucci brand, its watches have always been committed to substance. Despite its 45mm size, this watch has been designed delicately, to make it seem less imposing on the wrist. The two versions include one with matching black PVD coated steel to either polished steel or a 18k pink gold one. The case has a rotating diver’s bezel with a lume pip at the top. The monochromatic dial further takes the watch away from what people have come to expect of Gucci and this makes for a very interesting move from the brand. The watch is understated in its look, and muted in its expression of engineering capability.
A couple of years ago, Gucci added the bee as one of its new icons in its various designs. This year, there have been a range of watches with nylon fabric dials that have embroidered bees, among other animals, such as a snake or tiger. The Gucci Dive 45mm is easily the most masculine of unisex timepieces, taking a large dive-style watch and incorporating this more fashion-forward element. The Gucci logo is conspicuous by its absence on the dial, and is engraved only on the case back.