BACK TO BASICS TO BAMBOO
Gucci celebrates 40 years of watchmaking with a unique collection of women's timepiecesWe often hear about silicium, titanium and ceramics as the materials of choice in making the cases and the other chunky parts of fine watches. Gucci, though, has found a new creative material in the world's bamboo forests for its new ladies watches.
The uniqueness of the Bamboo Gucci collection is defined by the brown and classic bamboo bezels introduced on these new timepieces. The bezels are made from bamboo roots and recognised for their strength and solidity.
Embellishing the bamboo roots on the fine timepieces is an art that requires well-honed skills.
Trocadero Group, Gucci's distributor in Thailand, showed how it's done by flying in a skilled Italian artisan from its watch workshop in La-Chaux-de-Fonds to the Siam Paragon Watch Expo.
In line with Gucci's policy, the artisan can only explain his artistic process, but cannot be quoted.
Bamboo became Gucci's material of choice in the late 1940s for its collection of handbags featuring U-shaped bamboo handles. Traditional materials were in scarcity as a result of World War II. First created in 1947, the design rose to fame as an example of the expertise of Gucci's craftsmen, who found inventive solutions to wartime rationing. As bamboo cane could still be imported, they heated and bent it into a semi-circle to make a decorative handle. Throughout the 1950s and '60s, the Gucci Bamboo bag became all the rage.
Now, as Gucci is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its entry into watchmaking, bamboo has made a comeback. Gucci goes nostalgic by introducing the new Gucci Bamboo ladies watch collection designed by Gucci creative director Frida Giannini.
Each piece of bamboo bezels is shaped and carved by hand. At the watch expo, Trocadero Group set up the Artisan Corner with a watchmaker demonstrating how to carve and shape the bamboo bezels and fit them into Gucci Bamboo watches. The corner has a traditional watchmaker's workbench, a board of raw materials and a glass cabinet of finished Bamboo watches and jewellery. An accompanying video shows how straight bamboo roots are heated and curved in shape by hand with an aid of a mechanical vice with a metal jaw.
At the demonstration, the curved roots are ready for the next process: fitting them into the watch as bezels. The artisan does a lot of polishing and spraying the roots with exclusive varnish. He then heats the curved root until it becomes dark brown and sprays more varnish. Now the bezels are ready to be fixed into the watch. The artisan won't tell us what kind of superglue he uses to stick the bezel into the watch. But once that process is completed, the bezels are joined to the cases with screws to ensure the bezel won't come off.
This Bamboo timepiece for women has a round case and is available in three variants: black, brown or silver sun-brushed dial. Bamboo is inlaid around the bezel and is also used on the bracelet, which also includes the Gucci Horsebit motif on the clasp and bracelet links. The dial of the new Bamboo timepiece displays the Gucci logo at 12 o'clock and the Swiss Made stamp at six o'clock. Gently tapered hands complement a minimal set of indexes in a combination with Roman numerals and lines.
Trocadero Group is among the watch distributors represented at the Siam Paragon Watch Expo, which continues through Sunday at Siam Paragon. For details, visit www.GucciTimeless.com.