I was listening to an interview with a leading cultural influencer and the interviewer asked him how he was doing and he replied, “Feeling Gucci.” Turns out Gucci is modern slang for “good, awesome, high quality.”

So what’s it like for Gucci to “feel Gucci” these days?

Pretty darn good. The company, stagnant a few years ago, is rocking and rolling today, thanks to steady steering from Gucci’s president and CEO Marco Bizzarri and inspired creative leadership from creative director Alessandro Michele.

Recently, I made the trip to Milan, Italy, to the Gucci “Hub” (Gucci speak for headquarters, and in fact it used to be an airplane factory) to see what this turnaround is all about. After all, Gucci is the leading fashion company at the moment, easily outstripping its peers.

One of the key differences is that it is finally a coordinated effort, where every product category shares the same vision and same direction.

“This year will see the completion of our strategy to fully align our watch and jewelry categories with Gucci’s new brand positioning,” says Bizzarri. “This means that the brand’s new aesthetic will be reflected in the product offer with complementary point of sale and visual merchandising tools and a revised and upgraded distribution network. With the positive momentum that the Gucci brand has been able to generate in the last 18 months, this is the perfect moment to emphasize the same sense of creativity and innovation in our watch category with iconic collections that are fashion forward, while simultaneously crossing seasons.”

This is a big change in the way that Gucci has done timepiece product development in the past. “Before, the development of watches and jewelry was in a way semi-independent. It was a product that was conceived with a mind of a watch and jewelry manufacture, then adapted to Gucci,” explains Piero Braga, president and CEO, Gucci Timepieces & Jewelry. “Today, the idea behind all the products is only one, coming from our Creative Director, Alessandro Michele, and then it is spread and applied to all categories. The design office is in Rome and it is very big, and each category has its own designer, and they develop the creative ideas of the season on the product, then present it to Alessandro Michele. There is an application of the idea to appeal to a wider audience, but there is also an extreme application, at which Gucci is certainly a leader.”

Alessandro Michele, a fan of watches and jewelry, has brought in a number of new iconic symbols, including the bee, the snake, the tiger and the slogan, “Blind for Love.” These great design touches have made their way into the watch and jewelry collections, and the sales of these products have taken off.

Three Approaches

There are basically three categories of product in the new Gucci watch and jewelry universe. Iconic/classic–which is as conservative and traditional as Gucci gets–something that every brand has to have; Contemporary, where the symbols mentioned above are more evident, and this segment appeals to a much younger clientele; and Fashion Forward, which is the top segment that really brings new ideas (materials, designs) into watches. “The fashion forward watch is a new way to conceive watches,” says Braga. “This is where the cross over, the contamination if you will, between categories is more evident–it’s a mix between a jewel, Gucci leather goods, fashion and more, all in an object that gives you the time.

Some of the new fashion forward products ready for Baselworld include the Dionysus, the tiger’s head secret watch (available in resin at a lower price point as well as in silver with diamonds at the top end), special green-red-green Plexiglas watches, a new colorful moon phase watch and an automatic GMT watch.

Gucci is still committed to manufacturing Swiss Made timepieces, staying within the philosophy of being authentic in every product category.

“The bulk of our collection has always been quartz, but we still have some automatics, and we always will,” says Braga. “We will never be about the hyper complicated movements, but as we do watches that are like jewels, the same will apply to automatics. In Basel, we will have new automatics and a new GMT watch that is very special — the GMT indicator is a snake. What we do is the perfect combination between Italian creativity and Swiss know-how. This is something that is not easy to put together.

“We won’t put limitations on the future, as the possibilities in the watch and jewelry categories are endless,” he continues. “For us, we don’t have any interest in doing something that all the others are doing and just put the Gucci name on it. We want to be appealing because we are Gucci and we offer something the others do not.”

Pulling in a New Direction

Everyone is certain that the brand is on the right track, with all the categories coherent and moving in the same direction. “The will of the company is to make watches and jewelry part of the core Gucci assortment,” explains Braga. “That means that these categories are fully imbedded into the product range of Gucci, and they perfectly match all the other products. The idea is that we could put any of the new developed products in watches and jewelry into the middle of a Gucci boutique and they would fit. Today, the coherence of a brand is a benefit. Consumers are willing to buy a Gucci watch because they believe that they are buying something that belongs to a story and that story appeals to them.

“Gucci watches and jewelry are special today because they are different from anything else on the market,” Braga continues. “They are also playful and modern and appeal to a clientele that is really looking forward to novelties, to see something they haven’t seen before. All this is translated into a product that is very well made using traditional skills.”

Gucci the Super Brand

Gucci isn’t just a fashion brand, it is the number one brand of any kind from Italy, and it is in the top most recognized and respected brands in the world.

Trouble is, not enough people know about Gucci watches and jewelry.

“I think that people should already know about Gucci watches and jewelry, and learning more is going to be a surprise to people,” Braga says. “We are a successful brand in both categories, but people don’t know enough about what we want to do with these categories. When they know the idea behind the products, and then they see the products, and both align, they say ‘Wow.’ Whether they buy or not, we want them to say ‘Wow.’ In addition, Gucci is the only megabrand that is making their entire collection available to retailers.”

Gucci is hyper-successful right now, having grown by leaps and bounds over the last several years. They are so successful that they have begun to transform the fashion industry–Gucci was the first to combine men’s and women’s fashion shows into one show, and the brand just did their fashion show at the Hub, something unheard of.

We here at Revolution can’t wait to see what they have in store for watches and jewelry in the future. One thing is for sure, it won’t be boring.