Gucci's new watches and jewelry is now following the design codes of Alessandro Michele.

BASEL — The revitalization of Gucci’s fashion and accessories under creative director Alessandro Michele will soon extend to the brand’s watches and jewelry, predicted Piero Braga, head of the Italian group’s timepieces and jewelry division.

Braga, who was promoted last October to run the Switzerland-based subsidiary after 16 years on Gucci’s fashion side, said, “The overwhelming bulk of the range has been refreshed. [This year] will be the year of transformation. I expect a visible impact in the market from mid-year and through all 2018.”

The alterations in watches and jewelry have been in some cases “quite subtle” — such as emphasizing the snake logo, or tigers, bears and Gucci’s distinctive red and green ribbon, Braga said.

But the brand’s watches and jewelry have also developed a “fashion first” spirit, in a complete shift away from the more classic designs of the past, in a bid to attract a younger clientele, he added.

Striking edgy and individualistic features included the use of Plexiglass and other unconventional materials, and “secret” watches, where the watch itself is hidden in what looks like a more conventional piece of jewelry.

While there had been “some evidence of something happening” at last year’s Baselworld watch and jewelry trade show, it was only this year’s event that demonstrated the full impact of the makeover, he said. “Now all the planets are realigned.”

Braga admitted the sometimes radical new designs and colors were not to everyone’s taste. “You have people who love it, and people who say, not for me. But everyone says: ‘Wow!’”

Such renewal reflected what he thought was a “desperate need for new vision” in the Swiss watch industry in general, where he saw serious risks of stagnation. Acknowledging the new designs and kaleidoscopic colors would alienate some traditional Gucci buyers, he said: “In a way it was a mandatory decision for us. It’s saying: ‘This is Gucci now.’”

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