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This year marks a pivotal moment in Gucci’s history—the luxury Italian house celebrates the 100th anniversary since founder, Guccio Gucci, opened his first store in Florence. And while Gucci may have started as a leather goods company, it is about to expand its presence in the luxury world by adding high-end watchmaking to its impressive portfolio.
Today, the brand introduced its first Haute Horlogerie collection simultaneously to the annual Watches & Wonders trade show that has united the most prestigious companies in this field for years.
The brand is, of course, not new to watchmaking. In fact, it was the first company to introduce fashion watches back in 1972. It was also the first manufacturer to embed diamonds into stainless steel.
Its foray into the competitive world of high watchmaking and Swiss horological know-how comes with four lines inspired by Gucci’s heritage elements and commitment to technological advances. The brand is also introducing its first in-house movement—the GG727.25, available in two iterations: the automatic GG727.25.A and the tourbillon GG727.25.T.
“As you can imagine, all at once, it’s been an investment in not just money, but also in terms of people, time, and knowledge,” Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s CEO, told Departures exclusively.
Bizzarri joined Gucci in 2015, and under his leadership, the company became a beacon in the luxury industry, increasing its revenue almost two-fold in just five years.
He explained that it took about a year to work on the GG727.25. The company’s watchmaking business is deeply rooted in Switzerland (95 percent of everything Gucci produces is made in Italy, with the remaining five percent—its watchmaking business—in Switzerland). The dials are produced by Fabbrica Quadranti, a Gucci-owned company in the Swiss Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. The brand’s watch division headquarters are located in the lakeside resort of Cortaillod, while the workshop is in nearby La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Swiss Jura, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known as the heart of Swiss high-end watchmaking.
“We want to continue to exploit this kind of knowledge that we have in Switzerland and also from a creative standpoint—in Italy,” said Bizzarri. He added that the company would continue to focus on creating new complications, but it would also stay true to its design codes by “always adding this kind of edge that is typical of a fashion company like ours and especially by the creativity of Alessandro [Michele].”
The GG727.25 caliber makes its debut in the new Gucci 25H watch. The sleek unisex style has an ultra-thin 40mm case allowing the timepiece to “become like a second skin on the wrist.” It comes in two versions—automatic available in stainless steel and stainless steel with a diamond-set bezel, and tourbillon available in yellow gold (Bizzarri’s choice for the day) and in platinum.
Gucci’s high watchmaking debut also includes five new additions to its iconic G-Timeless line that epitomize the creative talent and technological craftsmanship the company is committed to. The G-Timeless Dancing Bees, for example, stands out with its 12 moving bees on the dial (“they look like they are floating,” said Bizzarri). And the G-Timeless Pavé is an ode to high jewelry with its alligator strap and hundreds of diamonds that embellish its 40 mm case. And speaking of diamonds, the company is also launching several stunning high jewelry pieces, inspired by its classic design motifs such as Dionysus, Lion Head, and Gucci Play.
Gucci is also giving its eye-catching Grip line a high watchmaking makeover. Five new versions, each fitted with a mechanical Jump Hour movement and crafted from precious materials, will also be available. The most striking of all is Grip Sapphire. It has a 40mm case entirely crafted in a see-through sapphire crystal that Gucci releases in four color options—clear, blue, green, and pink, all fitted with a transparent rubber strap.
Bizzarri, who has been overseeing the company’s sustainability initiatives, also points out that “everything that is possible in the market to be done from a sustainability standpoint is done, even in this collection.”
“The watches are one hundred percent [made from] recycled steel,” he explained, adding that the company is making sure that it only uses precious metals from verified sources.
Gucci is a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council, a leading organization in the watch and jewelry industries that promotes sustainable supply chains for materials such as gold, platinum, and diamonds. Since 2015, all gold used in Gucci’s collections could be traced along the supply chain back to the mine it came from.
“We are very much on top of it [sustainability] as a company, and we started so many years ago with so many initiatives,” added Bizzarri. In 2018, the company furthered its commitment to sustainability by launching Gucci Equilibrium, an online platform “designed to connect people, planet, and purpose.”
Staying true to its “digital-first approach,” the company is also launching an exclusive online platform that will allow its top customers to have an immersive experience with the new products in case they are not able to see them physically.
Bizzarri explained that the company’s digital presence is essential and not just limited to e-commerce—a critical factor for luxury brands these days since in-person store consultations are limited.
“So the idea especially for high price points is very much to use the digital presence that we have, in this case through the beautiful digital event and through our website, to present the products,” he said.
Gucci will be releasing its Gucci 25H watch in September, and the rest of the collection will be available for purchase by the end of the year.