Bamboo watches originally launched in 2012
If the mark of a fabulous fashion brand is worldwide recognition, then Gucci has certainly mastered the game.
The Italian fashion house started life in Florence in 1906, when founder Guccio Gucci began creating luxury leather goods like handbags, shoes and small suitcases. By 1938 Gucci had expanded across Italy to Rome, but it wasn’t until Guccio’s son Aldo took over the family business that things really started to sky rocket. The first significant milestone was the introduction of the now iconic bamboo handle handbag in 1947, followed by the green-red-green webbing pattern that became so popular in the 1950s.
The brand also benefited from an enviable list of silver screen idols as its ambassadors, including Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, who was gifted with an specially designed Flora silk scarf by the brand in 1966.
After expanding to New York and winning praise worldwide, the brand opted to develop its first collection of Gucci Timepieces in 1972. At this point Gucci made a leap across Europe to watch-making centre La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland, where it focused on developing innovative combinations of diamonds and stainless steel – giving customers the look and feel of more expensive brands at accessible price points.
The new Gucci GG2570 collection launched at Baselworld 2016
For those already enamoured with Gucci’s signature prints, patterns and materials, the burgeoning watch offer also incorporated everything that made Gucci unique. To recreate those covetable bamboo handbags, for example, the brand developed a particular process of heating and moulding the wood to produce watch bezels and straps (pictured top).
By 1997, Gucci had released its first wristwatch in its signature ‘G’ line, using the brand’s logo as a key design feature. In the 10 years that followed, Gucci’s Swiss-watchmaking centre moved into an impressive new space, from which it unveiled its first mechanical watch and its first automatically winding watch.
Pieces from the Gucci Diamantissima collection
Today, Gucci watches for men and women are so recognisably Gucci that they have developed a reputation all of their own, without needing the brand’s shifting Italian fashions to prop them up.
Candlelit evenings on the Italian Riviera are perhaps best paired with the Diamantissima collection which launched in 2015. Each watch is adorned with Gucci’s distinctive crisscross motif on the dial and case, giving the impression of soft fabric as opposed to tough stainless steel.
Two colourful Interlocking watches launched for summer 2015
There are also countless incarnations of the iconic Interlocking collection, which interprets Guccio Gucci’s initials as two overlapping ‘G’ shapes, and the Horsebit offer with its love-it-or-loathe-it equestrian theme. As far as the chaps are concerned, Gucci has sleek versions of its G-Timeless for men, alongside the Handmaster and the G-Chrono, which was introduced in 2014.
Elsewhere, it is the flagship Gucci Dive range that hogs the limelight, with pieces resistant up to 200 metres. The initial stainless steel collection was launched in 2013, but it was swiftly updated two years later with eight more Dive quartz watches in a host of materials and colours. There’s also a smaller 32mm offer to appeal to female customers too.
Watches from the Gucci Dive offering
2016 has already proven to be a fantastic year for the brand, with Florence and the Machine singer Florence Welch named as its new watch and jewellery ambassador. Since the announcement, she’s been snapped wearing jewellery from the 2016 Gucci Flora and Le Marché des Merveilles collections, as well as the new G-Timeless automatic, which is also available with a honeybee motif atop the signature green-red-green Gucci print.
Florence Welch wearing the G-Timeless (left) and the Honeybee G-Timeless
The person responsible for this nature-inspired leaning is creative director Alessandro Michele, who caused quite a stir in the fashion world when he took over the coveted job from Frida Giannini in 2015.
Amid all this excitement Gucci’s still managed to impress at this year’s Baselworld, where it presented its new unisex GG2570 collection inspired by Alessandro’s lucky number, 25, and the decade in which the brand’s watch-making began (second image from the top).
And just when we thought we’d made our minds up about which timepiece to buy we spotted the bold Le Marché des Merveilles collection at Baselworld, with bright green, orange and turquoise blue dials and the sophisticated G-Timeless Quartz. One of each perhaps?
The Le Marché des Merveilles collection snapped at Baselworld