In the fashion and design sector, one name stands head and shoulders above the rest: Gucci. From almost its very beginnings in the 1920s, Gucci attracted an international clientele, but it wasn't until 1947, with the introduction of its striking bamboo handle handbag, that the company created its first truly iconic product.
The Gucci phenomenon
By the 1960s, Gucci was a name that was not only on everyone's lips, but also their moccasins with the metal bit were on the best dressed people, Jackie Kennedy carried the shoulder bag which is now referred to as the 'Jackie O', Grace Kelly wore the specially made silk scarf known as the Flora and film stars from Peter Sellers to Audrey Hepburn established the brand name as being synonymous with Hollywood chic.
The Gucci name was tantamount to being all that was fashionable and the company and its reputation grew at a phenomenal rate. Then around thirty years ago, Gucci arranged a licensing agreement for the production of Gucci watches with Severin Montres. The demand for the watches was sensational and in the years that followed they attained a production level that made the Severin Montres company one of the largest and most profitable watch manu-facturing companies in the industry.
During the 1980s and 90s, the Gucci family slowly sold out their holdings to Investcorp, a Bahrain-based investment company. In 1995 Investcorp sold 48.2% of its Gucci share capital and followed that with the sale of the remaining shares in 1996, thus transforming Gucci into a public company listed on the New York and Amsterdam stock exchanges.
By this time, Domenico De Sole, who had joined the company in 1984 as CEO of Gucci America, had been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Gucci Group NV and Tom Ford, who had joined Gucci as Womenswear Designer in 1990, was named as Creative Director.
In 1997, under the guidance of De Sole, Gucci acquired Severin Montres thus enabling the company to totally control the design, production and distribution of its watches and with the strategic alliance of Gucci with Pinault Printemps-Redoute (PPR) in 1999, the watch company's future was assured. Today, Gucci's CEO is Domenico De Sole and he is responsible for the creation of what is now the Gucci Group Watches, which comprises Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bédat & Co. and Boucheron.
The Gucci watches
Among the first Gucci watches to appear after the acquisition of Severin Montres in 1997 was the gold and diamond collection featuring what became yet another Gucci icon product - the G watch, with its famous G logo used as an integral part of the watchcase.
In 2000 another successful model was launched that was based on the creative interpretation of a buckle from one of the Gucci bags. This came with yet a further touch of originality - a simple slim leather bracelet that wrapped around the wrist. Another innovation for Gucci was its venture into the mechanical watch world with the launch in the year 2001 of its first model. Featuring elegant unadorned styling and a manual winding movement, the watch was not only a milestone in the company's history, but also it established Gucci as one of the serious players within the Swiss watch industry.
As Creative Director of Gucci, Tom Ford oversees the design and development of all Gucci products - which, naturally, includes watches. Working closely with both the creative team and the technical specialists, Ford develops new models and continuously aims at shaping a collection that reflects the modern design aesthetics found in all of today's Gucci products. Tom Ford's artistic influence and his perception of the world of fashion, has ensured Gucci's position as a leader in the volatile watch industry.
Gucci timepieces are modern, functional and made of the finest materials. Like any typical Gucci product, the watch designs are intended to be streamlined versions of classic shapes - beautiful objects that are designed to last a lifetime. In the 1990's the styling of Gucci timepieces was characterised by black combined with steel. Today, warmer tones and more luxurious elements are being employed. The current collection updates colours and materials of two successful models hinting at the new trends in the fashion and accessories collections. Together with a supplementary diamond-set piece and an original feminine model of bold architectural shapes, the present collection displays the distinctive design and the quality standards of the Gucci brand. This is in addition to developments over the last few years that have upgraded the overall quality of the watch collection, such as the use of sapphire crystals, 20 micron plating for gold-plated models, the use of stainless steel and introduction of grosgrain fabric for straps.
Developed as an evolution from two best-selling models introduced at the 2000 Basel Fair, the 3905 and 4605 diamond models are lean and linear in shape, featuring stainless steel cases set with full-cut diamonds. Another diamond model was subsequently introduced at the 2002 Basel Fair and confirmed the success of the diamond line extensions. These new feminine, diamond-set watches opened up a new market segment for Gucci.
Stainless steel is the favoured metal and the diamonds are Top Wesselton pure to VVS1 clarity. The dials are of white mother-of-pearl with diamond indexes, or black or silver, with stainless steel bracelets or either lizard or calf leather straps.
Gucci's mechanical watch in stainless steel illustrates prestigious watch-making know-how. The elegantly styled timepiece houses an ETA 7001 Peseux manually wound 17-jewel movement with a seconds counter at 6 o'clock. The introduction of a watch with a mechanical movement represents a prestigious first for Gucci as well as a major milestone in establishing the brand as a manufacturer of finely crafted Swiss timepieces. The Peseux 7001 movement, with its 44-hour power reserve, lends a sense of history and heritage to the uncomplicated and elegant masculine design.
A black or silver dial is available for this model, the straps are either in gold ostrich leather or in black crocodile. There is a curved sapphire crystal and the watch is water-resistant to 30 metres. There is also an impressive luxury version of the mechanical watch in 18 carat gold.
The direction of Gucci timepieces is in line with a corporate strategy centred on high quality and direct control. Under Tom Ford's creative direction Gucci timepieces have been consistently repositioned to conform to Gucci's luxurious image and quality standards. The close unity of the Gucci entity together with the watch-making operation is certainly one of the most significant factors in today's success of Gucci timepieces and has led to their clear positioning as desirable fashion and design objects.
In this strategy, both male and female consumers are targeted, with a special emphasis on the quality of the materials, new developments in the diamond collection, and the further addition of mechanical movements for each model of the new collection.
Gucci's timepiece clientele is sensitive to the brand appeal and to its provocative image. They are usually young and attracted by the 'sexy' appeal of the Gucci aura, appreciate the very creative, eye-catching and tactile timepieces and enjoy that unique 'feel good' emotion that emanates from wearing one.
The magic of the Gucci name, the global communication perception of the Group, its unrelenting innovative efforts, plus its dedication to an overt commitment to quality, ensure that Gucci watches remain the benchmark for all other fashion watches.