Gucci Enters Serious Watchmaking With The Gucci 25H collection
Italian fashion brand Gucci celebrates its 100th year of existence in 2021. To celebrate the centenary, the brand has created a collection of high-end watches. Or rather, the brand announced over 30 high-end timepieces in four different collections. The most eye-catching for watch enthusiasts is, without a doubt, the Gucci 25H collection. For the collection, Gucci combines an in-house developed family of movements with design looks clearly inspired by the growing popularity of luxury sports watches. Let’s have a look at these new Gucci watches.
In all honestly, I did miss the announcement of the Centenary models back in April. With all the Watches & Wonders craziness going on, these new watches did fly under the radar. But the new watches come with an interesting story. It’s a story of Gucci being the first fashion brand to enter the world of watches back in 1972. I had to dive in a bit deeper and be reminded of the watch history that Gucci has because the history of the brand in watches is an interesting read. For the people who witnessed it, Gucci has been a brand that has some credit to their name as a luxury watch brand in the 1970s and 80s. So let’s find out more.
Gucci’s history in watches
Pivotal in creating Gucci watches was Belgian-born businessman Severin Wunderman. After setting up a successful business in jewelry in Irvine, California, he obtained the license to produce Gucci watches in 1972. When he did, he founded his company, the Severin Montres Group. The company bought finished watches from a watch producer in Bienne, Switzerland. Over the following 15 years, he managed to turn his company into a very successful business.
In 1987 Wunderman made some important changes to the company. He moved the head offices to Switzerland to be closer to the production side of things, and he made the US office a distribution office for Gucci watches. After experiencing exponential growth in the ten years after, Gucci bought the Severin Montres Group in 1997. With the takeover, Gucci made sure the company could internalize the production of their watches. An organizational model was soon followed by other fashion brands like Chanel and Hermès.
In the decade that followed, the focus of production for fashion brands changed quite a bit. Almost all the fashion brands constructed licensing deals with the production of their watches moving China from the mid-1990s on. Most of the fashion brands that ventured into watches consciously decided to move away from offering serious luxury watches with that move.
The Gucci brand nowadays.
Nowadays, Gucci is part of the French luxury group Kering. The company owns popular fashion brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta. On top of that, it also owns two high-end watch brands with Ulysse Nardin and Girard Perregaux. With their own Kering Watch Manufacture and the knowledge available these two renowned brands, Kering has produced in-house movements that form the backbone of the high watchmaking pieces that the brand introduced recently. It does allow them to combine Gucci design with the technical knowledge of high-end watchmaking.
Gucci introduced over 30 new references in four different collections to celebrate their 100th year of existence for their step into high watchmaking. The collections are the Gucci 25H, G-Timeless, Grip, and a special line of high jewelry watches. The most interesting out of the four is the 25H collection. It combines luxury sports watches with an integrated bracelet with the new in-house created GUCCI GG727.25 family of movements. With luxury brands like Chanel and especially Hermès and Bvlgari creating some amazing Haute Horlogerie pieces, could Gucci be next?
The Gucci 25H collection
One of the biggest trends in watch design over these last few years is the heavy focus on luxury steel sports watches with an integrated bracelet. Gucci chose that as the inspiration for their 25H collection as well. The design is courtesy of Gucci’s Creative Director, Alessandro Michele. And he also gave the collection its name because 25 is his lucky number, and it appears in many of his fashion collections.
An ultra-thin cushion-shaped case that measures 40mm in diameter and just 7.2mm in thickness characterizes the new Gucci 25H Automatic models. The two tourbillon models have an 8mm think case, maintaining the ultra-slim profile. Looking at the side profile, you can see that the case is constructed of three really fine layers. One of the clever design features is the smooth bezel that covers the crown. So when you put the watch on your wrist, you will not actually see the crown, making sure the lines are very clean.
Four different models
Architecture is the inspiration for the overall design and execution of the 25H collection. That concept is best manifested by combining sharp lines and different finishes used for the case and especially the dials. It resembles the shapes and combinations of materials often used in architecture. Gucci introduced a total of four new models for the 25H collection. The first is the steel all-grey automatic version; the second is a steel automatic version with a diamond-set bezel. The third and fourth are a full yellow gold and full platinum version with a tourbillon movement.
All four models feature a series of horizontal lines in a satin-brushed finish on the dial to add depth to the overall presence of the different models. A quirky detail is the mentioning of the caliber number on the dials. It seems a bit awkward at first. Having said that, it often happens that there are words on the dials of watches that merely function as decoration. But especially on the regular automatic model, the red-colored caliber reference number stands out because it contrasts heavily with the grey tones.
The upper half of the dial of the four models has the famous Gucci double-G logo with the brand name placed underneath. A third line is reserved for the word “Automatic” for both automatic models. On the two tourbillon models, the caliber number is placed directly underneath the Gucci name. The skeleton hands are well designed with a Super-LumiNova dot near the tip. All four models feature a five-link integrated bracelet with a butterfly folding clasp.
GUCCI GG727.25 Caliber
All four watches are power by the brand’s first proprietary movements. The Kering watch manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds developed the new Calibre GG727.25 family of movements. Above all, the manufacture is well-known for developing movements for Ulysse Nardin and Girard Perregaux. The GG727.25 base caliber is characterized by a micro-rotor and its variable-inertia balance that operates at 21,600vph. The movement has 24 jewels and features a 60-hour power reserve.
The movement comes in two different variations. The two automatic models feature the ‘standard’ Calibre GG727.25A with a traditional regulator. Additionally, the two tourbillon models feature the Calibre GG727.25T with a tourbillon regulator visible on the lower part of the dial. The movements are visible on all four models through the display caseback. The finishing uses a variation of Gucci branded elements. The micro-rotor features the famous Gucci logo and a unique Gucci wave is guilloched on the movement plates.
Availability and pricing
The new Gucci 25H collection will be exclusively available at Gucci Flagship stores like the Paris jewelry boutique on Place Vendôme from September 2021. The standard automatic model will be available for €8,200 and the automatic model with the diamond-set bezel will cost €10,500. The full gold tourbillon model will cost €120,000 and the platinum tourbillon model will be available for €170,000.
Especially those last two models are obviously costly. But those are not the ones to focus on, in my opinion. The fascinating question is whether Gucci can enter the world of serious watchmaking with the new Gucci 25H Automatic in steel? All the ingredients are there: luxury sports watch with an integrated bracelet, an overall very slim profile, a high-end in-house developed movement. Plenty to think about.
When I first heard about the new Gucci 25H collection I didn’t know what to think really. Gucci? Creating serious watches? Let me be clear; I have no problem with luxury fashion brands creating high-end watches. Over the last couple of years, some pretty spectacular results have come from non-traditional watch brands like Hermès and Bvlgari. I especially adore the Hermès Arceau L’Heure De La Lune models that are stunning in both concept and exection.
On top of that, it is no secret that I — and many of the Fratello team — am a huge admirer of what Bvlgari has achieved with the Octo Finissimo line. Let’s not forget that Montblanc is also not a traditional watch brand. And brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Ralph Lauren also create high watchmaking collections. So in that context, the fact that Gucci comes with a line of high-end watches is not really surprising.
I understand why Gucci has chosen a luxury sports watch with an integrated bracelet. It’s simply the hottest category of watches at the moment. The reality is that I don’t get blown away immediately by a watch design in that specific category that often. But what I do love is some intriguing discomfort. Good design makes you stop and think about it for a minute. Often it’s a sign that a design has the potential to grow on you and therefore creating a stronger bond with it. It’s those quirks that I miss in the overall design of the Gucci 25H.
A return to former glory?
The shape of the case reminds me of some of the familiar shapes of watches that came out in the 1970s. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it also doesn’t feel inspiring. The same goes for the integrated bracelet. It’s probably very comfortable, but the design looks familiar. Additionally, I think the choice to hide the crown is not one that I like. It takes away an element that is so characteristic in a watch design that I actually miss it. From a designer’s perspective, I perfectly get it. But without it, the watch feels naked. So overall, my first impression of the design misses the necessary sparkle to make it a great-looking or even intriguing watch. And if that happens, it doesn’t matter what brand is on the dial or what the brand’s history is.
Having said that, I would love to check out the watch in real life to see the case construction, the finishing and experience the watch on my wrist. A watch that will cost almost 10K does need something special. And I want to find out whether I’m mistaken with my take on the design. On top of that, I would love to experience these new movements from up close. With the knowledge and craftsmanship available within the Kering Group, these should be well-made timepieces and nice movements to see in the metal. But to do that, we will have to wait as these watches will be available starting September 2021.
In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on these new Gucci introductions in the comment section. Does it make sense that Gucci enters the world of high-end watchmaking?