de Grisogono 25, the age of (un)reason
A jeweller for 25 years and a watchmaker for 18: de Grisogono is still at a youthful age where everything is still considered admissible. The brand makes the most of this by boldly exploring creative and technical fields that constantly blur lines and break down barriers.
One could talk endlessly about the background of de Grisogono which is celebrating its 25th birthday this year. This might include telling the atypical life story of its founder Fawaz Gruosi, born by chance in Damascus, raised in Beirut until the age of eight and then in Florence until the death of his father. Of the time he spent with Harry Winston and then Bulgari before founding his own brand, de Grisogono, a reference to his mother’s maiden name and that of one of his two associates. All of which would result in ties interweaving love and politics, Swiss and offshore interests, fame and money, bling and glitter. Plenty of material to inspire a Dallas-type watchmaking saga spanning several generations, that would be filmed in Switzerland, Dubai and Angola. Randomly… or almost so…
Rule of three
Such an exercise would be of limited interest: de Grisogono is in fact noteworthy for three fundamental reasons. The first is the annoyance generated among its competitors, who see it as an increasingly cumbersome and disruptive challenger. The second is the sheer scale of the brand’s high-profile celebrations – although once again the criticism levelled against its perceived extravagance may be deemed laughable when coming from multi-billion groups who spend vast sums on marketing.
Fawaz Gruosi © de Grisogono
The third reason lies in the creations of the Maison, which are what will remain. Jewellery and watches will bear enduring testimony to boundless creativity. People have accused de Grisogono of exuberance, perhaps as a way of describing anything that isn’t standardised? Fawaz Gruosi is delighted by such epithets. The firm has also been ridiculed for using contrived marketing ploys – such as its use of the terms ‘icy’ or ‘milky’ diamonds in referring to flawed gems. Such attacks are a deliberate attempt to counteract an inventive approach to watch and jewellery-making that has shattered conventions established by others… who have naturally been unimpressed by such endeavours.
De Grisogono appeared on the watchmaking scene in the year 2000. It might be said that it did so ‘by breaking and entering’, since Fawaz Gruosi now freely admits he was a complete novice at the time. This status actually enabled him to exercise total creative freedom, unfettered by existing aesthetic codes that had no particular influence on him.
Instrumento No. Uno © de Grisogono
The result was the Instrumento No. Uno, featuring a TV-screen case set with black diamonds, a GMT dial display and a galuchat strap. Needless to say, it did not go unnoticed at Baselworld, where it enriched the watch industry ‘vocabulary’ with two new terms: the famous black diamonds and galuchat (shagreen). These would become the House signature. “The success of the Instrumento No. Uno exceeded my wildest dreams and significantly contributed to the growth of the brand”, says Fawaz Gruosi.
Crazy Skull © de Grisogono
The subsequent watch collections were built on the same bold approach. One naturally recalls the Crazy Skull in 2014. Resolutely surfing the skull trend, de Grisogono took the latter to its ultimate conclusion with a truly crazy jewellery approach that involved telling the time by looking death in the face – in fact directly in the eye.
An identity takes shape
Both prior to and since this spectacular stunt, de Grisogono has consistently played the “long game”, taking its time in composing its watchmaking ranges. In 2015, the New Retro collection reprised the 1950s inspiration of the Instrumento No. Uno. Between these two models, de Grisogono asserted its style with a dainty follow-up to the Instrumento, the Instrumentino. Colour subsequently became a decisive element of the House style, first with the Sugar and then with the Tondo By Night. The latter line was launched in 2013 and “deliberately made for partying”, as the Maison provocatively explains. Vivid shades of red, green and blue stretch from the case to the tip of the galuchat strap, along with black, which de Grisogono sees as a colour in its own right.
New Retro © de Grisogono
These chromatic expressions have in no way restricted the exploration of horological complications. Exactly ten years ago, de Grisogono presented the Meccanico dG with two time zones and two display modes – one digital and the other mechanically driven. This was followed by the Fuso Quadrato equipped with a 12 titanium shutters and a dual-time function. This year, the New Retro Double Jeu with dancing hour-markers appeared on the scene, as did the Power Reserve with its entirely openworked ‘form’ movement (a rare phenomenon these days) that appears to stretch infinitely inside its rectangular case. All of which testify to a consistently creative wellspring that shows no sign of running dry…
New Retro Power Reserve © de Grisogono
Keen to develop technical timepieces with a refined and distinctive aesthetic appearance, in less than twenty years de Grisogono has successfully carved out a niche in the world of watchmaking. Its audacious design ethos is expressed in firmly contemporary, off-beat timepieces.Find out more >
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