The Gorilla Fastback Collection: Extended Review & Something New
Character: inherent qualities distinctive to an individual or object.
Everyone and everything has a set of traits that define its character, which is what an object represents to those who interact with it. A person’s character is based on words and actions, but also the subtle qualities of presence. An object’s character can come from the materials used, textures applied, functions (if it has a function), and the intention behind its design.
Character can come from so many places, but nothing is without character. Some objects have more character than others, though, just compare the ever popular Honda Civic with the Bugatti Chiron. Both are capable automobiles for their price point, but the Bugatti has more character than most Hondas could ever dream of.
And so it goes with watches. Some watches are designed to be extremely functional, or very discrete, while others are made to stand out. These watches can be divisive, but they all share one common trait: lots of character.
A while back in Design Freedom + Affordable Luxury: Gorilla Fastback By Octavio Garcia & Lukas Gopp, I wrote about a watch with a lot of character from a couple designers familiar with making watches that grab attention. That watch was the Gorilla Fastback and the designers were none other than Octavio Garcia and Lukas Gopp, formerly with Audemars Piguet.
Now, after having the opportunity to wear a Gorilla Fastback for the last six months, I feel I’ve come to understand the character the watch has to offer, beyond the obvious (for me, at least), just in time to meet the next stage from Garcia and Gopp. The Fastback has been extended to an entire collection to expand upon the ways in which the Fastback offers loads of character for a rather great price.
The newest models – Acid Green, RS White, and Phantom Black – go in a variety of directions while still staying true to the original intent and building on its character.
Character that doesn’t fade
My time with a Fastback began shortly before Baselworld 2017. I decided it would be my only piece of wristwear during the show, and it did not disappoint. From the moment I walked out the door for the airport, I knew I had made the right decision. While at 44 mm the Gorilla Fastback is a larger watch, it doesn’t really feel like it. The combination of carbon fiber, ceramic, titanium, and aluminum keeps the weight down and the wrist presence under control.
It does look like an aggressive piece of sporting equipment, something that would help a driver conquer curvy canyons (which it has for me), a hiker tame tumultuous terrain (check), or a diver swim swiftly through the sea (not yet, but it was great in the pool). Yet it wears rather comfortably, especially on the silicone strap. After getting used to its shape I commonly forgot it was there . . . until I checked the time.
During Baselworld I had more people ask about what I was wearing than the year I wore the watch I made myself (I guess that tells me something too). See Making My First Watch: Adventures Of A Beginner for more on that.
The Gorilla was really a hit; everyone wanted to have a look because it just stood out so much. Once I was back to the States after the show, it became nearly a daily wearer and was definitely my weekend warrior. I wore it pretty much everywhere, and thanks to the carbon fiber, ceramic, and titanium, it stayed looking as good as new.
The subtle character inherent to the watch slowly became apparent over time, and I started to appreciate the little things that you might not even notice when you first look at a watch, for example the way the layers of the case come together with the play between the matte swirls of the forged carbon. Or the slightly iridescent anodized aluminum ring and the perfectly polished ceramic bezel, which keep the eyes intrigued.
I quickly fell in love with the concave radius of the bezel that leads to the protruding sapphire crystal. The towering effect adds a very industrial, gauge-like persona, especially when mixed with the mid-century style automotive dial design. That dial design was also fun to look at, and easy to read after only a couple evenings of use. Add to that the lack of an in-your-face logo on the dial, and the face of the Fastback had a lot of character to share.
I truly appreciate the use of the numerals 05 – 60 instead of 1 – 12 around the dial. This can be a contentious design choice for many, but given the automotive inspirations and the visual balance it adds to the dial, I think it was the right choice.
Too many times a dial can feel lopsided due to the 1 – 6 paling in comparison to the visual weight of 7 – 12. I also applaud the choice to put an almost vertical ring with minute indications outside of the dial with the logo. That way when you are driving or quickly glancing at your watch, these details have a chance to shine.
Finally, one trait in the Gorilla Fastback that I’ve found in some other watches is an audible automatic rotor. This feature has the tendency to divide collectors and fans alike, even though the famous Valjoux 7750 is known for this, and many collectors come to love hearing and feeling the rotor movement when they move their wrists.
The Miyota 8215 caliber at work inside the Fastback gives off some rotor noise and it will spin quickly if your wrist comes to a quick stop. The feeling and the sound of this adds a unique charm and character that I dare say it is one of my favorite unintended features of the watch.
Fastback Extended: Gorilla proudly presents the second chapter of its journey with the release of three new references each with its distinctive character.
Posted by Gorilla Watches on Friday, August 25, 2017
Bright developments, new colors, and materials
Overall the Fastback has become my most worn piece as it’s rugged enough to handle my less-than-gentle lifestyle and comfortable enough to avoid feeling like I’m wearing a piece of equipment. And since it is the most complimented watch I have ever worn, it means I also get the chance to share it with a wider audience, many of which doesn’t really care about watches but have been caught in the glow that is the Gorilla Fastback.
So I was happy to hear about the expansion of the collection to include new colors and materials. The three new options take things in a bit of a different direction, mainly to stand out even more. Character has been increased with more daring color choices, finishing variations, and, for one, a different carbon fiber case.
The biggest change of the three is evident in the new RS White model as it offers gleaming white ceramic for the bezel and a white dial with black lumed numerals on a white silicone strap. It is about as much a stand-out fashion watch as you could get, and it definitely grabs attention.
The first time I wore this model was at a party my company threw, where a man (wearing a Montblanc Star Date) crossed the room to ask what I was wearing. Clearly the bright white of the ceramic combined with the carbon fiber case is something that causes people to take notice.
The next most daring is the Acid Green, which sees the red details of the RS White swapped out for a bright yellow-green, and most clearly, a very bright acid green silicone strap. It also swaps out the forged carbon case for a layered forged carbon case, adding a touch of linear motion you don’t get with the other pieces. This watch comes with an alternative black silicone strap in case you want to fly a bit more under the radar at times.
The third new Fastback is the Phantom Black, which, going in the other direction, seeks to be a bit more subdued than intense. The black ceramic bezel is blasted for a matte finish, while a black anodized aluminum case ring minimizes contrast. Going in a tropical military direction, though, the numerals and hands are pale green lume.
The silicone strap is embellished with a camouflage pattern, though this one also comes with a plain black version for the most blacked-out option of the Fastback yet. I can see this one grabbing those that love military-style watches but also want something a bit more interesting with a heavy dose of modern high-tech materials.
The rest of the case shapes and dial designs stay the same, so the production costs can stay low. Changing colors of the materials, dials, and lume and adding different strap options is a fairly straightforward way to add a lot of variety and character to a watch without fundamentally changing things and accruing large cost increases.
Gorilla is still a very young company, and the goal from the beginning was to provide well-made watches with cool designs at affordable prices.
I would say these two designers have successfully done just that, and with success come the haters. People always love to dismiss something new, bold, and risky, especially on the internet, because it’s easy to judge from a safe distance. I love the fact that watch enthusiasts can get a watch with ceramic, titanium, and forged carbon for less than $1,000, something I didn’t expect to ever see.
Those who want something different, perhaps to even grab a little attention, and at the same time, want some cool materials and the chance to own a watch that performs very well for the price point, should definitely try the Fastback.
I love it, especially the new versions, and each variation for different reasons.
If you love it, wear it with pride! If you don’t, there are plenty more fish in the sea. One thing is for sure, I think Gorilla will have some serious fans with these and I look forward to whatever else comes from the minds of Garcia and Gopp in the future.
The new models begin shipping in November, so if they tickle your fancy you can own a pretty cool piece of modern watchmaking for a very affordable price. And all models are/will be available from Gorilla’s very first retailer, WatchGauge.
Happy watch collecting and don’t forget to be awesome!
Quick Facts Gorilla Fastback Collection
Case: 44 mm, forged carbon, ceramic, titanium, and aluminum
Movement: automatic Caliber Miyota 8215
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Variations: RS White:white ceramic, white dial, white silicone strap; Acid Green: layered forged carbon, acid green silicone strap, acid green case ring; Phantom Black: blasted matte ceramic, vintage style lume, camouflage-design silicone strap
Price: $880 each
Also published on Medium.