A lot of watch companies avoid using the word “fashion” because of the negative connotation it can have for people who take watches too seriously to consider them mere items of frippery. Gucci has never shied away from the F-word, though, staying true to its fashion-house roots. And watch snobs should take note: fashion watches were key to the survival of the watch industry, and Gucci played a leading role.
Most readers will be aware of the part that Swatch played in the 1980s for the survival of the watch industry in Switzerland, combatting the threat of quartz from Japan by introducing Swiss quartz movements encased in a never-ending variety of colours and patterns. Swatch changed the game, bringing in a whole new era for the industry, but it was not the first fashion watch.
In 1972, Aldo Gucci – eldest son of Guccio, who founded the firm in 1921 – was persuaded to sell watches by Severin Wunderman, who would later go on to acquire Corum. Gucci watches were naturally infused from the beginning with bold expressions of the Italian fashion house’s signature codes, like horsebit chains and red-and-green stripes. And Gucci went big, shifting vast numbers of watches throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Gucci is now part of the Kering Group, along with other fashion labels like Saint Laurent, but also Girard-Perregaux – meaning that there is real watchmaking expertise within the group. In recent years Gucci has increased its investment in fine watchmaking, it has two factories in Switzerland and today offers a lot of mechanical watches within its range.
But the core of Gucci’s watch business remains quartz, like the newly expanded G-Frame collection, now with interchangeable leather straps or a yellow-gold PVD mesh bracelet, as well as an increased range of dial designs. Gucci makes claims to have invented the fashion watch. It is a creditable call and, more than 45 years later, Gucci Timepieces are still proudly fashion first.
21x34mm stainless steel; water resistant to 30m
Interchangeable Ayers leather straps or yellow-gold PVD mesh bracelet