Get a Grip: Gucci’s New Gender-Neutral Digital Display Watch
A Baselworld surprise, this release adds a whole new character to the Gucci universe.
Much has been made of the way creative director Alessandro Michele revived the luxury house Gucci by exploring and expanding the brand’s codes. In their watch and jewelry collections, this means embroidered bees on the dials, king snakes on the straps, and the interlocking double G logo everywhere else (read HERE, HERE, and HERE). Gucci has even gone back to the archives, resurrecting its Lucite watches from the 1970s in classic red and green colorways.
But at this year’s Baselworld, Gucci released the Grip, a collection of direct read timepieces so unique that they took fairgoers by surprise.
POSSESSED TO SKATE
Gucci says The Grip is meant to evoke the heyday of the 1970s skateboarding scene (grip tape being a thing you put on your deck to keep your feet from slipping). Frankly, we don’t see the connection. Maybe it’s because the cushion-shaped case is flat like some boards? It seems like a stretch, but we don’t care — it still has a vintage feel — just maybe not vintage skate culture.
In fact, the direct read display, with three discs that show the hour, minute, and date are more reminiscent of a different era — the design of Art Deco era jump hour watches.
Also known as Direct Read, Wandering Minute or Digital watches, this style of display is based on a concept developed and patented in 1882 by the Austrian engineer Josef Pallweber.
Remember the IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition 150 years (read HERE)? Of course you do, it’s a fascinating object. Pallweber’s most important complication was a display for pocket watches that used digits printed on rotating disks in lieu of classic pointers. The principles behind this mechanism (sans pointer) started appearing in wristwatches the 1920s. Jump hours had a brief resurgence in the 1970s, and even now manufacturers are still finding ways to bring this complication back.
Allesandro has a well-known reverence for the '70s. Beyond the brushed case surfaces, the typography of the hour and minutes are distinctly digital, based on the classic pocket calculator style seven segment display.
Since fashion industry veteran Piero Braga took over as President and CEO of Gucci Timepieces in 2016, the company has worked hard to bring the watch collection in line with Michele’s unmistakable design vision. Call it pastiche or collage, but it feels like everything Gucci puts out is weird and wonderful but never so strange to alienate anyone.
The collection is comprised of four new timepieces. There’s an edition with a yellow gold PVD case and bracelet and another in stainless steel. Both are engraved with Gucci’s famous interlocking G logo. Two other versions come on colored calf leather straps: green with a steel case, or Bordeaux with a yellow gold PVD case.
The watch is available in either 35-millimeter or 38-millimeter size. The cushion-shaped face has three display apertures, in which three white rotating disks indicate the hour, minute, and date.
The new Gucci Grip will be available in 10 different references in two colors and two sizes (35 or 38mm). and two precious gem versions. All in, the Gucci Grip will be available in 44 different variations! We don't have prices or delivery dates yet but expect it the Grip to be available sometime this summer.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)