There is no doubt that Gucci’s decision to introduce timepieces in 1972 was a prescient one, making the company one of the first fashion houses to offer them. A mere four decades later, Gucci Timepieces & Jewelry’s range of products for men and women is far reaching both in its geography and in its breadth, with a few thousand points of sale worldwide and watches that range from quartz to mechanical and everything in between.
“We are a very serious Swiss Made watch brand,” says CEO of Gucci Timepieces & Jewelry, Michele Sofisti, adding that all the timepieces are made at the company’s own watch manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, where about 110 people are employed. “We create and produce watches of fine quality, equal to the leading brands in the industry.”
Sofisti credits Creative Director Frida Giannini for designs that are quintessentially Gucci in their appeal.
“She knows how to carefully select and incorporate the right Gucci elements,” he says.
Such elements include the Gucci horsebit motif, the famous green-red-green striped web, and various renditions of the Gucci name or the Guccio Gucci signature, as well as the use of bamboo. Giannini, whose stellar credits include a stint at Fendi, became the company’s sole Creative Director in 2006 after joining the firm in 2002 as Handbag Design Director.
Under her direction, each facet of the production process is carried out at Gucci Timepieces’ headquarters in Switzerland, from drawings to prototyping to finished product.
Giannini’s recent conception of an ad campaign starring Chinese actress Li Bing Bing is yet another high-profile win for both the company and for the Rome-born Creative Director.
“Li Bing Bing has an effortless beauty and an innate sophistication,” says Giannini, a sophisticated beauty in her own right. “Working with her has been rewarding—she has the optimism and the talent that go hand-in-hand with individual style. She embodies the Gucci woman with her contemporary femininity.”
Norwegian fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø, whose portfolio includes such other luxury designers as Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Hermès, shot the photos for the campaign in London. The first round of ads, which debuted in April, feature timepieces, handbags and jewelry, with Li Bing Bing front and center.
The three timepiece ads in this initial installment of the campaign respectively focus on the Bamboo watch, the leather-clad 1921 and the Interlocking model that will be introduced later in the year. Each ad is minimalist in style, with a single lovely watch hugging Li Bing Bing’s flawless wrist.
In the fashion world, Gucci first used bamboo in its handbag handles in the 1940s in an attempt to deal with wartime materials shortages, and since then it has become an icon of the brand. The Gucci Timepieces Bamboo watch for women has a round stainless steel 35 mm case and a choice of dials: black, brown or silver sun-brushed. Bamboo is inlaid around the bezel and is also used on the bangle bracelet, which includes the Gucci horsebit motif on the clasp and links. All of the bamboo is hand finished with beeswax and natural lacquer.
PVD coating is a popular technique in the world of watchmaking, and Gucci Timepieces has jumped onboard with new G-Gucci timepieces, now available in pink- or yellow-gold PVD and in two sizes. The yellow-gold version has a brown sun-brushed dial, while the pink-gold version has a black sun-brushed dial with three diamonds: at 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. The respective matching bracelets are fashioned from interwoven links.
Ceramic is hot, and the new G-Chrono range welcomes a version with a white ceramic bezel. The 44 mm stainless steel case is fit with either a stainless steel and ceramic bracelet or an embossed white rubber strap. This quartz watch has a white lacquered dial, silver subdials and a pop of color in the green chronograph hand.
The I-Gucci Sport was first introduced in 2011 to celebrate the partnership between Gucci Timepieces & Jewelry and the The Latin Recording Academy®, host of the Latin GRAMMY® Awards. Gucci Timepieces & Jewelry also created unique Web content—compatible with all mobile devices—to promote the new I-Gucci Sport. This special Web content can also be accessed via this QR code which will be visible at all points of sale.
Now, new extensions are offered with striking perforated rubber straps in black, orange and cobalt blue, and silver or black dials. The 49 mm watch has a backlit digital display that may be set to show two time zones; it may be switched to an analogue mode that displays hands. New functions include a dual chronograph, a countdown timer, a tachymeter and pedometer.
The new G-Timeless Sport, known for its canvas Gucci green-red-green web strap, is now available with a web strap in blue and red. Perfect for summer, the 44 mm quartz watch has a fresh look prompted by the new colors. The dial is in bright white and features a background displaying Gucci’s iconic diamond pattern motif and the Gucci Sport signature at 12 o’clock. A snippet of blue and red web is displayed at 3 o’clock.
The G-Timeless Chrono is the latest addition to Gucci’ Timepieces’ range of performance watches for men. Crafted from stainless steel (with an anthracite PVD-coated bezel), the 44 mm timepiece is powered by a quartz chronograph movement.
The anthracite dial features three subdials and a tachymeter scale. A date window is at 4 o’clock, and the iconic red and green Gucci stripe visible at 3 o’clock is echoed on the push buttons and seconds hand. The G-Timeless Chrono is also available in an automatic version powered by an ETA Valjoux 7750 movement.
The 44 mm steel watch has a black or anthracite dial and comes with either a dark brown or gray matte leather band and a black or stainless steel bezel.
In Praise of Music
Gucci has counted many iconic musical artists among its clientele over the years, so it seems fitting that it would focus its philanthropic attention in this arena. Its most recent collaboration is with the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation to launch the Gucci Timepiece & Jewelry Music Fund with a goal of discovering and nurturing talented young musicians across China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. It will provide scholarships within an international exchange program in collaboration with the Grammy Awards and the Recording Academy, two other organizations close to the company’s collective heart.
A range of music disciplines will be included—conductors, musicians, singers and composers—from some of the most prestigious schools, including the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and the Xian Conservatory of Music.
At the end of 2010, Gucci Timepieces & Jewelry announced a three-year partnership with The Recording Academy®, host of the GRAMMY® Awards. As part of this unique fashion and music collaboration Giannini designed a special‐edition collection of Gucci GRAMMY® watches and jewelry whose proceeds support the Music Preservation Program, a central mission of the GRAMMY Museum®. Dubbed, ‘Year of Jazz’, the first year of the partnership led to the digital preservation of more than 30 recordings and 9 original compositions of the late legendary jazz performer and musician, Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller (1904 – 1943).
And Gucci’s longstanding support of the Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by Martin Scorsese for the preservation of influential films, is another testament to Gucci Timepieces & Jewelry’s commitment to the arts.
Applying the discernment that has energized the company since its earliest years, the 91-year-old Italian brand is moving toward its centenary with more anticipation than ever.
Sofisti sums up Gucci Timepieces & Jewelry’s success simply: “A luxury brand must have real authenticity and the correct price.” He then shares a checklist of other non-negotiables: good quality and values, passion for the product and great communication. Check, check and check again.