A century’s worth of success will give any company enough confidence to do whatever it wants. In Gucci’s case, its centenary was the perfect opportunity to challenge established horology houses with the launch of its first fine watchmaking collection.
The highlight is the all-new Gucci 25H that wades into the sports-chic trend with a cushion-cased bezel, integrated metal bracelet and a striped dial. There are steel and diamond-set models as well as two tourbillon references in platinum and yellow gold.
It’s pleasantly familiar and boasts an ultra-thin automatic calibre courtesy of Kering, its parent manufacture that also owns Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux. The brand’s existing G-Timeless, Grip and high jewellery lines also join this fine watchmaking collection with new movements.
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While it’s not unheard of for luxury fashion brands to venture into haute horlogerie territory, it’s still fairly uncommon. Many like Boss, Versace, Prada and Burberry dip their toes into watchmaking to supplement their primary lines of leather goods and apparel. However, the results – pretty watch faces powered by basic quartz movements – have as much soul as a Fitbit.
Those with more personality draw from the genuine passions of their namesake founders such as Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford. Lauren himself is a watch collector, so his line has included complex offerings like minute repeaters and flying tourbillons. Even the recent fashion-focused Polo Bear and Polo collections have automatic movements.
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When he was the creative director at Gucci Group, Ford helped design timepieces for brands like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Boucheron. In 2018, he partnered with Bedrock Manufacturing Company to launch his own line.
Letting the pros handle the heavy lifting is the most straightforward way for a fashion brand to get a foot in the door of the fine-watchmaking clubhouse. Once Hermès took a stake in Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier (VMF), a producer of high-end mechanical movements and watchmaking kits, it could bring to life poetic complications like the time-stopping Les Temps Suspendu and the satellite-style Arceau L’Heure De La Lune Moonphase.
This way, fashion brands don’t have to worry about horological legitimacy. Instead, they can just focus on their primary strength: making you look good. Here are some brands that have figured out a way to have it all.
It has made its mark on the haute horlogerie scene by playing with case materials such as high- tech ceramic and sapphire crystal. Its high-jewellery expertise has also translated well in its more resplendent collections.
After acquiring case maker Joseph Erard Holding in 2013, Hermès has built a formidable range of timepieces that are both complicated and artistic, and nicely complement its existing line of quartz-powered fashion watches.
The brand’s strategy for horological credibility was simple: pick one collection and pour all its innovation into it. Its Tambour case has housed everything from chiming skulls to spinning hour markers.
This article originally appeared in The Peak