Gorilla Watches Releases The New Colorful Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph
Gorilla Watches does not release new watches too often. But whenever the brand announces a new model, I’m always keen to find out what’s next. Gorilla’s newest release is the surprising Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph. The brand takes inspiration from vintage muscle cars and race cars, so a chronograph makes sense in that daylight. But the Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph is a very surprising watch. It breaks new ground for the brand in multiple ways.
When Gorilla Watches first announced the Gorilla Fastback in 2016, I was interested in finding out what the brand was all about. A brand founded by former Audemars Piguet designers Octavio Garcia and Lukas Gopp obviously came with expectations. And I was happy to find out that the men focused on creating a great design for their first Fastback model that was released. Additionally, the watch came at a very affordable price. A smart choice as it made the Fastback obtainable for a wide audience. The new Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph is the next step for the brand. It’s a step that will have people talking for sure.
The Fastback collection
The current Gorilla Watches collection consists of three different lines. The first is the standard Fastback line. It’s the first model the brand introduced with the characteristic 44mm case construction. The case is made of forged carbon and features an aluminum —often contrasting — “pinstripe” and a ceramic bezel. It’s a modern case in both design and execution, and I loved it from the beginning. I had to get used to the dial a bit more, though. Inspired by the speedometer of vintage muscle cars, it took me a bit of time to get used to. But after wearing a number of the Fastback models, I was pretty impressed with what Garcia and Gopp had pulled off.
The second collection is the Fastback GT line of watches. It is essentially a better quality version of the original Fastback. The same case is executed in layered or woven carbon. Additionally, the conceptual execution, often referring to historic racing liveries, adds more color and variety to the Fastback GT line. But the best change for me was the step-up in movements. I own two of the standard Fastback models, and the automatic Miyota 8215 has always felt underwhelming. On the wrist, it makes noise if you give it a spin; it wobbles and feels not on par with the rest of the watch. For the Fastback GT, Gorilla uses the Miyota 90S5 movement, a better movement in terms of quality and accuracy. All in all, the price increase from €760 to €1,180 seemed fitting for the improvements made to the Fastback GT.
The Complications collection
The third line is the Complications collection that the new Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph is part of. Besides the new model, it also holds the Fastback Drift models equipped with a wandering hours complication. It also features the Outlaw Drift that introduced a new retro-inspired tonneaux case and came equipped with the same wandering hours complication. Both the two Fastback Drift models and the Outlaw Drift saw a massive price increase. The prices start at €2,860 for the Drift Elise and move up to €3,390 for the Outlaw Drift. Considering the wandering hours complication, the price increase is understandable. But 3–4 times the price of the standard Fastback models was quite a stretch, in money, of course, but especially in brand perception. It raised the question: how much are you willing to spend on a Gorilla Watch?
The new Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph is taking it even further. The chronograph Fastback model comes in at €7,150. This really raises the question of how far you can stretch the price levels with essentially the same model? As you will find out, the new Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph is executed completely differently. But it doesn’t take away the perception people have of the brand and therefore are willing to spend 7K on a Gorilla Watch. As it will be a limited production run of 99 pieces, they don’t need a large group of buyers. But in general, the stretch in the price they make here is quite remarkable. Essentially, the Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph is on the price level of renowned big brands like Omega, Breitling, and TAG Heuer? So let’s take a look at what Gorilla came up with.
The Gorilla Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph
It all starts with the familiar 44mm case that is 13.8mm thick and is made from brushed grade 5 titanium and treated with a DLC coating. With crown guards, the case measures 48.5mm, and the lug-to-lug is a whopping 57mm. The case construction features the familiar Gorilla anodized aluminum pinstripe in orange. The matte black bezel features an engraved tachymeter scale and is made of ceramic. The crown and pushers are also made of ceramic and are protected by titanium pusher guards. So, all in all, the watch is a serious step up in materials compared to previous releases.
Underneath the sapphire crystal, the watch features a skeletonized dial the features the familiar Gorilla-style numerals from 0 to 60 coated with X1 Super-LumiNova. Additionally, the dial has an applied logo, two large applied 3 and 9 o’clock indices, applied chronograph counters, and an updated handset that features a central hour and minute hand and a bright orange central chronograph hand, all filled with X1 Super-LumiNova as well. The watch features two subdials, one for the small seconds at 3 o’clock and the second is the chronograph minute counter at 9 o’clock. On the outside of the dial, you will find the blue and orange 60-minute scale. Overall the design feels balanced despite being colorful and having an open-worked dial.
Collaboration with Dubois & Dépraz
Through the skeletonized dial, you will see parts of the chronograph movement that Dubois & Dépraz developed for Gorilla. If you turn the watch around, it’s also visible through the sapphire case back. So what have they come up with? The base movement is an ETA 2892-A2 that operates at 28,800vph and features 21 jewels and 42 hours of power reserve. Placed on top of the movement is the Dubois & Dépraz DD268 chronograph module. This module is skeletonized and features a bi-compax layout. As you can see, the skeletonized module is executed in black and features Dubois & Dépraz – Vallee de Joux engraved, so it’s clearly visible when you wear the watch.
Through the sapphire case back, you will also see a customized black PVD coated oscillating weight. I have to say, at first glance, the movement and the module look stylish because of their finish. But essentially, what you get is a very familiar ETA movement that is often used as a “tractor” for modifications and complications. Gorilla and Dubois & Dépraz used the basic Elaborated Grade version of the ETA 2892-A2. It is the most basic of the three grades, with an average accuracy of +/-5 seconds a day to +/-20 seconds a day. While the ETA 2892-A2 definitely is a well-respected and reliable movement, it’s always a big influence on the watch’s price. But we’ll get to that.
When I first saw the Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph, this next step makes sense for the brand. Gorilla’s style is influenced by vintage muscle cars, so a chronograph seems fitting as a next step. And at first glance, the watch is completely in line with what we have known from the brand. I have to give Garcia and Gopp credit for creating a line of watches that is instantly recognizable as the Gorilla Fastback. The large case with its characteristic construction, the hour numerals executed from 0–60, it’s a style easily pointed out as being Gorilla.
From experience, I can say that the Gorilla Fastback watches are big. They are definitely not for people with small wrists. Considering its size and style, the Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph should appeal to people who love big modern sports chronographs like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs, the Hublot Big Bang, and the Zenith Defy Extreme. This obviously brings us to the most important talking point, and that’s the price of the Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph. At €7,150, the watch is still a lot more affordable than most of its stylistic peers. If you are not willing to spend roughly €15,000 or more on one of the models mentioned, this could be an option.
Stretching it too far?
But there is also a reason why people choose brands like Audemars Piguet, Zenith, and Hublot. They create technically great watches, but they are also a luxury statement. While Gorilla is nowhere near the price levels of the aforementioned brands, they are taking steps into new territory here. What started as a brand that created well-designed affordable watches has turned into a brand that creates expensive watches based on that same initial concept. And that feels conflicting.
Obviously, the Complications line of watches already suggests more expensive timepieces. Additionally, only 99 pieces will be produced, so no need for a large audience. But I am left with two questions. The first is whether the watch is worth €7,150? Based on first impressions, I would say I have serious doubts. As said, the choice of materials is definitely a significant step up. But the ETA 2892-A2 movement with a chronograph module has been used for watches at a more affordable price. Additionally, brands like Breitling and Omega offer great in-house developed movements at the same price level.
Which brings me to the second question: why would you choose Gorilla Watches at this price level? There is an incredible stretch in their collection in terms of price levels. When I wear my €760 Fastback, buying a €7,150 Fastback, Thunderbolt Chronograph seems bizarre. The choice for a Gorilla Watch at this price seems highly unlikely for most watch enthusiasts, myself included. But the price increase does trigger my curiosity, and I would love to find out more in a possible hands-on review. But for now, the new territory seems like a stretch in both product and brand perception.
The Gorilla Fastback Thunderbolt Chronograph can be ordered now through the official Gorilla Watches website. Shipping will start in December 2021.