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Gorilla Fastback Watch Hands-On

Gorilla Fastback Watch Hands-On Hands-On

As former Chief Artistic Officer at Audemars Piguet, Octavio Garcia has about as much watch design cred as most could hope for. So it is interesting that he has chosen to strike out on his own, leaving behind the comfortable heritage of the Swiss luxury establishment to follow his dream, start a new brand, and produce a democratically priced watch at under €1,000. In fact, just about everything about the brand, from the name Gorilla to their first design, is a little surprising. The brand debuts with the Gorilla Fastback watch that is an exercise in automotive-inspired design and materials.

Gorilla Fastback Watch Hands-On Hands-On

I spoke to Octavio before the official product launch, and it was interesting to hear him describe the watch – especially because I had not yet even seen it at that point. Even so, it seems like one should be able get at least a general sense of a watch based on its inspirations, materials, functions, and dimensions. But with a cocktail of materials, at 44mm wide, and inspired by 1970s muscle cars and 1970s watch design, from a former Audemars Piguet designer, but budget priced… I was having trouble forming a mental image. It could have gone in any number of directions – except something conservative and tame. Not to mention that it’s called Gorilla. Sure enough, I was a bit surprised by the design when I did see it, even though I had been primed for something with a stated mission of boldness and mold-breaking.

Gorilla Fastback Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Gorilla Fastback Watch Hands-On Hands-On

In our conversation, Octavio emphasized that part of his goal was to design a product that “ticks the boxes” that watchnerds are looking for. So, fellow watchnerds, let’s first take a look at the specs for the Gorilla Fastback to establish exactly what we are talking about. The 44mm-wide case is 48.5mm with the crown protector, water-resistant to 100m, and composed from a mix of materials including carbon fiber, ceramic, titanium, aluminum, and sapphire crystal. The watch is powered by the Japanese (Citizen-owned) Miyota 8215, which is an automatic movement that offers hand-winding, though not hacking seconds (meaning the seconds hand does not stop when setting the time). Beating at 3Hz, the Miyota 8215 is known to offer 40-plus hours of power reserve and an accuracy of about -20 to +40 seconds per day.

Gorilla Fastback Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Gorilla Fastback Watch Hands-On Hands-On

So the real mission of the Gorilla Fastback watch centers around design, materials, and execution thereof. The bulk of the case and most visually prominent material is carbon fiber. Even if the material is not as novel and edgy as it was only a couple of years ago, the grains and textures carbon fiber materials can create are various and potentially interesting. Here, the fibrous patterns are wavy or cloudy, with a muted, inverted marble-like appearance. The racing-red “pinstripe” of an accent above that is anodized aluminum. The screw-down crown is titanium, as is the caseback – where a bunch of specs and materials are listed out, which I like, along with the roaring gorilla face logo. These are materials which can keep weight down, here totaling 110g – which isn’t super light, but is pretty good for the size.

Gorilla Fastback Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The front of the watch comprises a ceramic bezel and antireflective sapphire crystal, which – and we’ve said this before – means that the whole front is basically scratch-proof. The uncommon shapes and angles of the different material components and aligning the various surfaces would seem like a production challenge, but the magic of CAD (computer-aided design) and CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines mean that the designs created in Switzerland (by designers of American and Austrian nationalities, if any of that matters) were able to be carried out in Asia with remarkable precision. The creators note that the production process has been very fluid, as they most certainly have established connections and relationships with some of the best suppliers for their needs. Some of the the angles look rather sharp to me and could have maybe benefited from beveling, but the designers perhaps wanted to create a somewhat blocky and raw impression.

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  • Bill W

    Good God. Harambe died and this sh*t lives? There’s no justice in the world!

  • Bill W

    For the first time ever, Christopher Ward is the one being copied.

  • laup nomis

    I don’t get it, I’m missing something. There are so many nice watches at this price. To me its comedy looking and sized. The guys a watch insider/expert so he must know something I don’t.
    Even so good luck to him.

    • Bill W

      I have to say that this is one of the worst watches in my recent memory, and perhaps one of the worst watches I’ve ever seen on this website. And yet it was brought to us by people who’ve actually been employed in the industry, not some kickstarting, sponsoredposting hipster doofi. I’m so confused.

      • Berndt Norten

        The Led Zeppelin tribute watch was the worst

      • laup nomis

        Like you I genuinely think its unwearable. 7F is comparatively modest by comparison. I don’t like being entirely negative about a watch, but this just has nothing I like about it.
        However, I’m sure that It’ll have a market, because I’ve long realised than when it comes to fashion I’m reliably clueless.

  • Bill W

    Designed in Switzerland by Austrians and Americans, with lume application by blind epileptics from Asia.

    • Bill W

      I think the guy who does the lume on these used to frost cakes at Carvel.

      • laup nomis

        Either that or those lines in the middle of the motorway.

  • error406

    Looks like Fossil designed a watch for teenagers in the 80’s.

    I’m always on about how “real” watch makers should take some design cues from fashion watch designers, but these are exactly the wrong cues to take. Makes SevenFriday look sophisticated.

  • IanE

    I would advise the designer not to give up his day job, but I guess the advice is a bit late.

  • laup nomis

    When I enter a room I don’t want everyone diving for cover. As fashion, the IED strapped to the wrist is just not à la mode. Its an old joke, but never truer.

  • Bill W

    I think the plot for the next Terminator movie will be Raymond Wilkie sending one back in time to take out this guy’s mom. 🙂

    • Raymond Wilkie

      If that were only possible. Someone has sat down and designed this mess of a watch and passed it for production. The miss-match of case materiel makes it look dreadful. The face itself looks quite confusing ( need to see it running ). I can’t honestly see any reason for this to be made and who could possibly be attracted to it. Am going to pretend i never saw it.

      • And yet…the “bolts” on the bezel do not have slots so they aren’t misaligned. That must the a single ray of sunshine for your Ray.

        • Raymond Wilkie

          Afraid not Mark. The whole run needs pulped.

    • john coleman

      LOL.

  • Bill W

    If worn for a month it’ll be anywhere from 10 minutes slow to 20 minutes fast. It’s that kind of accuracy that I’ve come to expect from Gorilla Chronometers.

  • Bill W

    So the brand is called Gorilla because it’ll be extinct in 8 months??

    • Bill W

      Or is it because Mr. Garcia and Mr. Gopp crash-landed in Uganda and a friendly primate MacGyvered their vintage biplane back into working order? So when they got back to Switzerland they decided they would honor that crafty gorilla with the most hideous watch imaginable. Some thanks!

  • Bill W

    It’s almost as though they made this watch out of every material they could think of/get their hands on because they know they might not get a chance at watch #2.

  • Bill W

    My new brand Chimp Rage, it’s inspired by angry chimps and, I don’t know, maybe like an old car or something.

  • Raymond Wilkie
  • “But they also felt that there was a niche to be filled and an opportunity to stand out within this particular segment.”

    It’s pretty clear from this offering that I spent more time reading this article than they did on market research.

  • BNABOD

    hum after exhausting the car segment (read DB4 Chr Ward, Shaguar Chr Ward……) we are now entering the animal kingdom. Ladies and gentleman may I present the one, the unique,the hairy, the ridiculously ugly ……..GOOOOOOOOOO……………RILLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAA
    from no one else but the “Chief Artistic Officer” of AP……..WHAT THE F&*(

  • Bill W

    Shoulda stayed on that AP leash. But then again, maybe Gorilla will join AP, PP, and VC to form the ‘Holy Quadrinity’. It could happen.

  • dennis

    What was one thinking?

  • Bill W

    “Would reviewer personally wear it?”

    “Ummmmmm…hey, look! There’s a dinosaur over there!” (runs away)

  • Beefalope

    This makes me unhappy.

    • Bill W

      Were you an early investor and after reading this article you realized that you might not be able to feed your kids? 🙂

  • SuperStrapper

    It’s really really really really really bad. Really bad.

  • DanW94

    The whole steering wheel disc/handset is confounding. It’s bad enough that hour hand and minute hand are so disparate but then you have those two dummy “hands” indicative of nothing. Make that a little more cohesive and I suppose it’s not to bad. I’ve seen worse designs.

    • laup nomis

      Really, where? The gauntlet is down 🙂

      • DanW94

        Keep in mind, aesthetic preferences are purely subjective. For me, I don’t have to go back too far for an example. I’d wear this over that awful Dietrich carbon number reviewed here about a week or so ago.

        • laup nomis

          As for the first bit, of course, almost goes without saying. (Plus I don’t take myself seriously, and a lot of what I say is jokey or ironic. Although I do review honestly, and mostly constructively).
          As for the Dietrich, really? I’ve seen it and I admit I’d never wear it and don’t like it. It is a carbuncle with strange perverse design cues, but so is the Gorilla. But the gorilla is a giant carbuncle that sucks light from the room and just draws attention to itself. While the Dietrich can slip under the sleeve 🙂

          • DanW94

            You can slip it under your sleeve, I’d prefer to slip it under a car tire or a work boot : )

        • ??????

          I would prefer Dietrich. How tired I am from all these techno-car-motor inspired watches, so I would better wear organic inspired 🙂

  • ??????

    Why gorilla? Where is the connection with gorillas? The watch itself goes to category of 7F and Ballast et al. Huge, loud, Miyota-based watch, where reading time was the last thing to think about.

  • Given its origins, I really want to like it. But I’m sorry, I can’t. Maybe the design will resonate well with younger entrants to the watch world. I wish them luck. That’s a pretty bold introductory caliber.

  • Horlogère Addict

    Revolting. Can’t you guys find decent watches to review?

  • Bill W

    This may suck more balls than would a toothless golden retriever at Wimbledon.

  • It looks like a Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Alinghi Team but designed in a trailer park.

    At least it proves that carbon fibre cases are not expensive to manufacture. Wouldn’t mind seeing a picture of the watch in the dark to see how that applied lume looks like.

  • TrevorXM

    “…former Chief Artistic Officer at Audemars Piguet…” Ah, so that’s who is responsible for all those horrible dumb Royal Oak Offshore versions — the same guy responsible for this watch. Now it’s all coming together. I’m surprised he didn’t jump over to Hublot. They’d love him there.

  • Boi1der

    Has a sort of SevenFriday vibe to it. I do like the materials used, especially the carbon fiber case.

    • Chaz

      Not a compliment

      • Boogur T. Wang

        The “materials used” part might be.

  • Shinytoys

    I think the gorilla missed it’s mark…

  • Andre Braz

    My God…. Sorry but I prefer Diesel design. This is a disaster for an ex AP….

  • Robert McKean

    I have never seen a watch take such a unanimous pounding. It almost feels like piling on at this point. Sapphire crystal, good, ceramic bezel, good, but how about a Miyota 9015 with hacking at 1,000 Euros? The face of this watch is unfathomable, but if you wear it never take it off. Anyone who sees the back will think you are the mental equivalent of a not-very-bright 11-year old boy. Two other possibilities: 1- this is a mislabeled sponsored post; 2- Zen Love is an avatar (the name is a clue), who is used to allow Ariel and other real people to avoid criticism for their selection of this watch to review.

    • ZL

      For the record, I am a real person.

      • JimBob

        Alright, everyone who had “sock puppet” in the pool, pay up.

      • Berndt Norten

        Yes, Zen Love is the younger brother of Dude Love, aka Cactus Jack, aka Mankind, aka Mick Foley

  • cg

    Should’ve called it “Silverback” and sold it thru WWF (World Wildlife Fund) since it is a limited manufacture… those eco terrorists would love this stuff. The leather band would have to go. I certainly wouldn’t even consider a purchase even at such a low price. 48mm please… Only a tribe of hairy Hillary women could wear this!

  • mtnsicl

    Wow, I don’t even know where to start. It’s just a horrible moshing of ideas that don’t go together. This does not tick any of my boxes, and there sure isn’t anything dazzling here. It looks like a $5 kids plastic toy watch. The edges on the case layers don’t even line up. He gave up a good jod with a classy watch maker for this? If it’s coming in at just under E1000, that’s way to much for a Myiota movement watch. Wow, I don’t even know where to finish. See what I did there? Oh Ariel, you need a fresh wrist trim!

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Reviewed by Zen , modeled by Ariel ?

      • mtnsicl

        Oh you’re right for once! ZL, where’s the wrist love? Trim it up bra!

        • Raymond Wilkie

          For once ?

      • ZL

        That’s correct. It’s teamwork.

        • Raymond Wilkie

          Quite right , their is no i in the word team .

          • mtnsicl

            Oh, I was correct!

  • Wow…that is one ugly watch.

  • Shawn Lavigne

    really? i would have thought that this was the creation of the typical fool who thinks that just because they love watches they should be making watches – think every fricking micro-brand / kick-start sponsored post we see here daily. yawn.

  • ??????

    I know why it gets so many negative comments: it is a combination of stuff, from which we got really tired already. Take heavily abused Royal Oakish design and make another techy-motor-racing “inspired” watch based on it and build from plastic (carbon, sorry..). Then call it “Gorilla”.

  • word-merchant

    I love this watch. Its understated elegancy, thoughtful coherent design and use of only top of the range components throughout is beyond exceptional.

    Then you add the almost giveaway price, and the brand name that exudes class and gravitas. If that wasn’t enough, think about the noble back story. This is an Instrument of Time inspired by a car. Who, apart from a master, could come up with such an idea? Not you; not I.

    Finally, one must (with any brain capacity left), consider the astonishing pedigree: this three-handed Calculataria Of Heavenly Passage has come from the man, Octavio (his parents knew he’d be a design genius, so named him after a Skoda car) Garcia who has literally done more than any other man on this planet to bring a single watch design to market in so many colours over so many years.

    If you don’t like the look of this watch, then you really need to scoop our your eyes with a rusty spoon and replace them with better eyes. It’s as simple as that.

    Oh, and wash the gore and stuff off the spoon, if you intend to use it again.

    • laup nomis

      Glad to see that your hygiene standards are suitably as impeccable as we would expect.

  • Ulysses31

    The lume looks like it was applied via a piping bag by someone’s barely-sane granny. The bevels don’t line up between the different layers. It’s embarrassingly poorly constructed. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like gorillas. A USP might have been strapping this watch to the wrist of a mountain gorilla for a month and then boasting about its impressive durability when it was removed unscathed from the jarring of chest-beating, palm-heart-chewing and general primate shenanigans. This has been a missed opportunity. My love of the hirsute giant cannot overcome my derision for this watch.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      On behalf of Silver Backs everywhere, I thank you.

  • ??????

    BTW, never seen markers made from bird poop. Truly original.

    • Chaz

      Romain Jerome calls it “DNA”

      • ??????

        Too much DNA for one watch.

    • Bill W

      Bioluminescent bird poop harvested from the Pigeons of Pripyat.

      • French pigeons who were fed Super Luminova in their bird seed by a farmer in whose field a plane (or car, your choice) landed in. The rest is the stuff of watch legends.

        • laup nomis

          Haha, you can just imagine it.

        • ??????

          And the Watch Legend is born! (far more original than another plane’s / car’s detail btw)

    • JimBob

      I think the production versions are using bat guano.

  • Gabe Wong

    This looks like a toy… really kitsch design. He’s using his “I’m a former AP big shot” to market this, but I just don’t feel it. (MIYOTA +/- 40 sec/ day WTF???). Second photo from top to bottom shows paint smudge in transitions. I know it’s a -$1,000 piece, but c’mon… even kickstarted wanna be somethings don’t fumble it in such a matter. This is the kind of watch that looks cheap and makes the wearer look cheap as well. Seems like it’s better to go SEIKO (in-house, etc etc) before flushing a grand down the toilet on something like this.

  • JimBob

    The answer to the question “What would Harambe wear?”

  • Bill W

    “Double Zero?”

    “It’s pronounced ‘Ooh’. As in ‘Ooh-Ooh Ah-Ah’.” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3b592f4a35a2de1e3fc390dc58ad5d49f840c29a6084448b71687c1bf4b560f5.jpg

  • commentator bob

    The only true auto-themed watch is a chronograph with a tachymeter.

    However, if one is going to try an auto-themed three-hand watch with a Miyota movement for under $1,000 the Autodromo Group B is better in every way than this watch.

  • Hard to believe this came from someone with a design background who should have known better.

    Part of the problem may be the statement that it “ticks the boxes”. Checking off boxes of design elements does not necessarily add up to a coherent design (especially in this horrid example). If you look at how refined the original Genta designed Royal Oak was and how crass the Offshore variants look, then perhaps we can see this guy’s negative influence at AP.

    If someone told me this was a Seven Friday watch, I would have believed them without question. And that’s not a compliment.

    Thanks for the review, now where are those eye drops again?

    • Bill W

      I realize I’ve certainly peppered this po(s)t with my thoughts, but I wonder how many comments we’ll get up to before we find someone who genuinely and unequivocally likes this piece?

      • The 14 year olds with roughly €1,000 to burn have not given us their thoughts yet, so you may be right.

        • Well gee Dad, that’s only 30% of the monthly allowance you give me; and only 5% of Mom’s. Why are you concerned? Just let time run its course.

          • Well son, so long as you aren’t spending your allowance on drugs or rapature music…

      • laup nomis

        Yeah, I’m not far behind. But usually even terrible watches have some redeeming features. I think its that this watch is wrong in so many ways.

      • Berndt Norten

        You might pepper your posts but like the great Jean Chrétien, ‘me, pepper, I put it on my steak’

    • Gabe Wong

      You make a great point. Seven Friday pieces look designed with care and polished… and they compete in this segment. No contest.

  • Gokart Mozart

    It’s possible it was a gorilla who designed it and was called Octavio. When all the literature was sent to ABTW, a bit of a mix up and the only Octavio they knew was AP Octavio.

    Also, I am guessing the size would look just right on a gorilla, possibly on the small size like a 34mm on a human but perfectly acceptable.

    I do like the white dial bit under the hands with the perlage design, it looks good, just a shame there was not more of. I quite like the numeral design, but obviously not the lume quality.

    • Plus being hard to read is not a problem for a species that can tell time anyway.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Nice first effort. A bit bulky though, IMO.
    For those curious, the pricing would be < US$1,122.63.,000.00 as of mid-morning 24 Sep 2016, approx. 23:27 UTC,
    I do like the design elements and use of newer technology. Lume shot?
    A "fun fashion watch" for certain.

    • Arnold

      I subscribed to their newsletter when the watch was presented over at hodinkee. the watches given to the press are prototypes and in the newsletter they show photographs of the first production piece. It seeems they added a dark coating to central guilloche pattern which will certainly help readability and the luminous looks much better too. I think it will ship with an additional rubber strap

      I like the use of different materials. Could be a fun watch!

  • Berndt Norten

    Too bad Gorilla Monsoon is dead. He would have been the ideal brand ambassador. It ain’t exactly an AP or Patek.

  • Marius

    Love this watch! Modern materials, modern design and a proven and reliable workhorse movement. Even the name is young and fresh.

    What I don’t understand are all these vicious, nasty, vile, mangy, foul mouth comments. Such comments would never appear on Hodinkee. Then again, to be fair, neither would this watch receive a two-page review on Hodinkee.

  • Octavio Garcia

    Hello everyone,

    Thanks, Arial and Zen for the article and to all of the aBtW readers who’ve responded to our first product offering. It’s all good. The feedback is both entertaining and gives me the energy to continue following our convictions in bringing bold, qualitative and accessible products to a new generation of watch enthusiasts. Points of view regarding design, marketing and brand are subjective, and I will only add that we are not looking to align with the status quo.

    There is, however, one point that I would like to underscore. That of the luminous Arabic numerals. As Arial mentioned, the product I sent to him for a preview is a prototype. Since then we have addressed the luminous issue, and you can rest assured that the final production piece will have more qualitative luminescent numbers, a darkened circular grained dial behind the hour disc to enhance legibility and tighter overall tolerances.
    I look forward to continuing the conversation.

    Octavio Garcia, founding partner of Gorilla Watches.

  • MEddie90

    I guess I’m a little late to the party here but may as well chime in In an attempt to be positive or constructive (though the negative comments have been endlessly amusing so far).

    I dont mind the case shape but the dimensions are a little bold and I think its fair to say that while the sandwich case makes some sense (carbon at the bottom which is shock resistant and light, ceramic at the top which is scratch resistant) it looks poorly executed. Getting a flush or seamless joint is not an easy task and so I think a design with a ceramic bezel that doesn’t need to be flush would have worked out much better.

    The three pronged date hand is unnecessarily confusing and I think the choice of a Miyota 8215 is not good enough for the price point, hacking seconds and 4Hz are standard features people expect and my seiko 5 watch is significantly more accurate at well under 1/10th the price. Miyota can make a good workhorse but why on earth not go for a slightly more upmarket 9015 and charge the difference?

    • Arnold

      It all depends on the priorities. At this price segment compromises have to be made. Here the focus clearly lies on the materials and design. Charging the difference in the current market situation might be easier said than be done. We saw that happen so many times…everybody just charging the extras and finding themselves out of the customer’s reach.

      That case indeed does look challenging to produce. Considering that this is only a prototype I am curious to see the final outcome.

  • Octavio Garcia

    Thanks for the question.
    Effectively we did not choose the easy path; the design brief was to create a distinctive, recognizable piece with a strong engineered formal language by pushing this fresh material mix as far as we could. It was also part of the thrill of designing this piece, along with the fact that the materials are intentionally layered to address the daily wearer trauma issues that were all familiar with. Ariel’s pictures are a prototype; we are working on getting the alignment as flush and seamless as posable.

    As for the choice of movement. We wanted to offer a product for people who are looking for a unique design and provide a combination of materials reserved until now to MUCH higher end brands. That meant defining a clear target price, in my view, we are offering an excellent compromise between wrist presence, functionality, and mechanical robustness, the Miyota 8 series best fit the brief.

    And finally, for the hour hand, it is an essential design detail a dial trademark that gives character to the piece. The production model will read much easier thanks to a darkened background.

    • word-merchant

      Nice words, but it doesn’t get past the fact that you’ve put a nasty movement in an ugly case and want €1k for it. I don’t know you and I personally wish you no ill, but it’ll be a sad day for watch design in general if you succeed.

  • Dennis Juenger

    Hey Octavio, I for one believe this piece to be AWESOME !!! An amazing stylistic journey into the days of fast, muscular cars and comic book heroes.

    Personally I do not necessarily mind the movement. The one you have chosen is easy to repair and will provide years and years of accurate run time. In addition it allows the watch to far cheaper than it would have otherwise been.

    Looking forward to buying and owning this amazing first step in Gorilla’s brand journey. I am sure that my grandchildren will look with awe at the very first watch you guys ever created.

    Normally a Rolex guy myself, I can not wait to be part of your next chapter.

    Well done 🙂

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