Watches from the fashion house of Gucci are nothing new. The brand has offered timepieces for five decades, reinterpreting its house symbols for the wrist – it has even dabbled with mechanical models, partnering with its then Kering stablemate Girard-Perregaux on dive watch movements.
But in 2021, Gucci’s horological ambitions shifted up a gear when the house launched its first High Watchmaking collection to a rapturous reception.
Years in the making, the collection was so much more than a mere dip into a new world. Rather it was a total immersion that showed a deep understanding of the subject, a knowledge absorbed over 50 years, and a deliberate goal to bring something genuinely new to a saturated marketplace.
For its third High Watchmaking extravaganza launched in late March, Gucci has taken horology on a journey to a magical cosmos, focusing on the universe, its stars and planets.
Five separate collections combine precious gems, traditional and innovative materials and high complications including tourbillons, moonphases and perpetual calendars, reimagining them in ways unique to the house.
According to Gucci’s worldwide managing director for watches and jewelry, Maurizio Pisanu, the collection “include standout pieces that are the right markers of the [50-year] milestone: they blend high watchmaking savoir faire with Gucci’s flamboyant, ever-surprising creative artistry [in] a fitting tribute to Gucci’s positioning in the haute horlogerie segment.”
“Gucci is building its brand around several collections: this includes the ever-evolving G-Timeless family, the contemporary aesthetics of the GUCCI 25H and the street-smart allure of the Grip collection,” he continued.
“The timepieces are imagined with self-expression in mind, the emphasis is on providing creative choices and capturing a mood and style. Customers can look forward to an unexpected and daring design, and a strong sense of personalisation that runs through many of the watches.”
Although it was only launched in 2019, the Grip has become for Gucci something that every watchmaker strives for: an instantly recognisable signature model.
The cushion case plus jumping hour and wandering minute indications had an immediate retro-futuristic appeal that adapts easily from street culture to the highest luxury.
Two years after its launch, the Grip collection had its first model created in precious metals and hardstone.
For 2023, the range has been expanded with stunning expanses of red jasper or chrysoprase set into pink gold and presented on colour-matched alligator straps.
The sports-luxe GUCCI 25H also takes a new direction this year with Skeleton Tourbillon and Perpetual Calendar models.
The 40mm GUCCI 25H Skeleton Tourbillon is available in pink or white gold with baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel and floating movement bridges.
An alternative version of the Skeleton Tourbillon is available with bridges and components in shades inspired by the colours found in the landscape of the moon – orange, pink, purple, green and electric blue.
A degree of personalisation is also offered, with the ability to engrave up to eight letters on the four sides of the winding stem.
The GUCCI 25H Perpetual Calendar takes one of the most revered of horological complications and houses it in steel or gold with a five-link bracelet or alligator strap.
The watch displays days, months, years and phases of the moon, yet thanks to the ultra-slim GG727.25.PC calibre, manages to retain a thickness of just 9.7mm.
According to Mr Pisanu, “The uniqueness of Gucci’s timepieces is that they effortlessly echo the timeless spirit of the house yet remain creatively aligned with the perpetually evolving Gucci aesthetic, pursuing its own sense of expression.”
And, of all Gucci’s house symbols, the bee is perhaps the most recognisable, so naturally is represented in the High Watchmaking collection.
The dials of the G-Timeless Dancing Bees feature 12 golden bees set en tremble that appear to take flight at every move of the wrist.
This year’s additions include dials set with turquoise and mint-green opal marquetry consisting of 0.45mm thick rectangles laid on a mother-of-pearl plate.
At 12 o’clock a diamond-set crescent moon frames an aperture housing a large tourbillon.
One of last year’s showstoppers, the G-Timeless Planetarium, sees four new versions this year.
Around the ‘Dancing Hours’ central flying tourbillon, GGC.1976.DS, is a satellite made up of 12 precious stones – opals, pastel-hued beads, fiery gems or diamond-studded stars.
On demand, via a pusher in the crown, each one spins on its own axis in nine seconds while it also orbits the circumference of the dial in 90 seconds.
“Gucci is renowned for pushing the limits of creativity, innovating with materials and trialling new textures. It is the mix of Swiss craftsmanship, skilled horologers and Italian unconventional design that makes Gucci’s timepieces perpetually appealing, fresh and modern,” Mr Pisanu says — and, although he is talking of the collection in general, nowhere is this more relevant than in what is undoubtedly one of the highlights of 2023, the made-to-order G-Timeless Moonlight.
“It also draws on the storied emblems of the house, revisiting these in novel ways and integrating them into collections. It is Gucci’s longstanding watchmaking expertise and history that enables the brand to deliver this exciting blend of craftsmanship and creativity,” Mr Pisanu adds.
With the G-Timeless Moonlight, a buyer can have the place, time and date of his or her birth translated into the watch. Six gemstones link to the alignment of the planets at the specific time of birth.
They are alternately set with diamonds on the rehaut, which spins on demand when activated by the crown at 2 o’clock. Five letters or characters can also be added to the dial, while the rotor, seen through the caseback, is decorated with a customised constellation.
Below the blue aventurine glass dial are layers of mother-of-pearl, purple-blue lacquer, fiery opal and green aventurine glass that appear to move like the undulating waves of the aurora borealis and provide the perfect backdrop for the moonphase disc.
Speaking about how far the house has come in such a short space of time, Mr Pisanu concludes: “Gucci was pleased to introduce its first calibre in 2021, found within the GUCCI 25H collection. Since then, the line has grown presenting striking variants for different occasions. The house will continue innovating, surprising, pushing boundaries and building on this incredible journey of unparalleled technicity and craftsmanship.”