There are only two stores in the US that are authorized to sell Gorilla watches. One is King and for the sake of this article, we’ll assume the other one is called Kong and sits somewhere on the retail level of the Empire State Building. Gorilla is a relatively young Swiss brand founded by Octavio Garcia in 2016. You may recognize Garcia’s name if you’re an Audemars Piguet fan. The Chicago native was AP’s creative director for more than a decade and from his mind came numerous refinements to the Royal Oak and Offshore. It was also at AP where he blended his passion for watches with his love of cars in the creation of the Maserati Millenary. With Gorilla, Garcia cements these passions together in a collection of muscle car-inspired timepieces.
American muscle cars from the 1960s and 70s were fast, masculine, loud and bold. Iconic models poured out of Detroit with names like Camaro, Firebird, GTO, Charger and Garcia’s favorite, the Shelby Mustang. The lines on these cars were aggressive. They were clad in chrome and sported oversized features and colors that screamed for notice. Shrink that mental image down to a 44mm square case made from things like carbon fiber, aluminum, steel, titanium, ceramic and rubber and you’ve got a Gorilla watch. They’re big, colorful, and muscular, and they actually even look fast.
Gorilla watches are designed and manufactured in Switzerland. Like most microbrands, they rely on outside movements for power, Miyota and ETA specifically. The multi-layered dials are extremely dimensional. They are deep set below the sapphire glass with a concave ring that matches the color palate on most models. Most of the Gorilla collections are listed at 44mm but the guards around the oversized titanium crown push the dimension to about 48mm. Despite the size, Gorilla watches are lightweight and quite comfortable, even on my 17cm wrist.
The watches are fitted with hybrid straps that combine rubber with Cordura, Alcantara, leather and other materials used in automobile interiors. They attach at the bottom of the solid block forged carbon cases so there is a natural contour that allows the watches to sit perfectly. The watches appear smaller on the wrist than they do off, primarily because the eye goes to the recessed round dial instead of the square case. It’s the same effect that makes the Bell & Ross Instruments collection manageable on wrists of all sizes.
There’s one round watch in the bunch – the 42mm Outlaw Drift 250-piece LE – that presents Gorilla’s “Wandering Hours” complication. The dial looks like a steering wheel with a central ring that holds 3 cloverleaf discs. Each disc is marked with four Arabic numbers that rotate as the inner wheel turns. Across the top third of the dial’s outer ring are the minute indicators. The time is read by looking at the spot where the hour on the cloverleaf lines up with the minute marker. You’ll also notice that as the trailing cloverleaf passes 6 o’clock, it rotates so the right number is lined up to assume its position at the top of the next hour. The same Wandering Hours complication, which is a Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier module on an ETA 2924-2 movement, can also be found on the 44mm square GT Drift Mirage and GT Drift Elise watches if you prefer that shape over the Outlaw’s.
The rest of the Gorilla line is comprised of 44mm square watches. In addition to the Outlaw Drift, the first shipment to the store includes 10 models from the Fastback and Fastback GT collections. There are several consistent design features across both collections including prominent crown guards, multi-layered dials, a rotating center steering wheel that includes the hour hand, forged carbon cases with ceramic bezels, water resistance to 100 meters, sapphire crystals and bright-glowing Super Luminova lume. Fastback models are loaded with an automatic Miyota 8215 movement and have solid casebacks featuring an engraved Gorilla logo that looks pretty ferocious. The Fastback GT collection has Miyota’s upgraded 90S5 automatic movement, which is visible behind an open caseback and through an open aperture on the dial.
Fastback Galaxy Blue: The carbon case on this watch is accented by blue highlights and a black ceramic bezel. The comfortable hybrid rubber/Cordura strap includes a black center section that’s framed with blue accents to complete the look. The Fastback Phantom Black, Fastback Hugger Orange and Fastback Stinger Yellow have the same setup with gold, orange and yellow highlights, respectively. The Fastback RS White features a white ceramic bezel, black/white/red multi-layered dial and an all-white hybrid rubber/Cordura strap.
Fastback GT Truffelhunter LE: Gorilla produced 500 units of the “Pink Pig,” which was inspired by the Porsche 917/20, an aerodynamic concept car that ran at LeMans in 1971. Instead of the steering wheel design, the hour hand is integrated into a rotating skeletonized disc at the center of the dial that’s reminiscent of a wind tunnel test pattern.
Fastback GT Espionage: Another 500-unit LE, this time with a green ceramic bezel, orange highlights, forged carbon case and open aperture on the dial.
Fastback GT Modena: The red, yellow and black color scheme echoes the iconic cars built in Ferrari’s Modena factory.
Fastback GT Bandit: Black with rose gold accents on a hybrid rubber/leather strap. It has an exhibition caseback and an open aperture on the dial to expose the The Bandit was inspired by the Pontiac Firebird from the 1977 movie Smokey & the Bandit.
Fastback GT Drift Elise: A 350-unit limited edition featuring the Wandering Hours complication in a 44mm square case. Its green and yellow palate is drawn from classic British race car colors.
If you’re a fan of the bold watches from brands like Hublot and Bell & Ross, you may have just found the perfect new beast for your collection.
Bobby Frank is a freelance writer and musician based in Nashville. He’s been an avid watch collector since discovering a sample case full of early digital watches at his father’s office in the late 1970s. Current favorites include the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, Zenith Chronomaster and Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet One. A timekeeper to his core, Bobby plays the drums in several bands that perform across the Southeast including Tennessee Dead, a Grateful Dead tribute band.
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