When designing this i-Gucci watch I have a feeling I know what Gucci was aiming for. The goal was probably to produce a Casio that hip urban fashion types want to wear... Those that for whatever reason don't want to wear a Casio. Compared to your standard G-Shock, the i-Gucci is more sleek, has a metal case, more simple dial, and looks less like a piece of modern Japanese technology. A G-Shock is probably more durable in the long term, but it won't get you as many "brand points" with people. In the end, the i-Gucci is meant to be a useful, fashionable, and recognizable high-end digital watch. There really aren't too many other watches quite like it out there.
The piece(s) for review here are the Gucci i-Gucci Sport watches. These come in a few styles and I had two i-Guccis to check out. They also comes in a few sizes. What you see are the XXL models, but they also come in the more petite XL (Extra Large) size. XXL models are 49mm wide and the XL models are 44mm wide. Though with the wide sloping bezel and lugless design they wear smaller than they are. Also note that I think the smaller i-Gucci model has less features.
The steel case is cleverly designed. I like the shape and the brushed finishing as well as the design of the pushers. The case is also available in PVD black if you prefer. The pusher design consists of a rubberized ring around the entire case. On there are the four pushers (two on each side). It makes none of them stick out, but they are easy to see and press. The strap design is a bit strange with the strap being cut and then reattached with the metal pieces. I don't know how durable it is, but it does make the piece look a bit more cool. I think it is also to help the strap wrap around your wrist better. I've seen i-Gucci watches with a ton of strap styles. Some even seem to be in alligator printed latent leather. On these watches are rubber straps with a perforation style texture to them. They end with a push-button butterfly style deployant.
Over the dial is an AR coated sapphire crystal, which is nice. The case is only water resistant to 50 meters, which means it might be OK for a light swim. No i-Gucci diving for you. But i-Gucci hand washing is a-OK. It took a little while to warm up to me, but in the end I did enjoy the comfort and style of the watch on my wrist. Brand enthusiasts will love the engraved "Gucci" logo always welcoming them. Now what about using the watch?
The i-Gucci Sport has a surprisingly rich feature set. What I can say overall is that the piece makes for an excellent traveler's watch. Let's go over its basic features. The default screen has two time zones and the date. You can swap out the date for a seconds display. You also have the reference city of your current time and a local time below. If you really want, you can also opt for a "digital analog" display that has two digital hands for the hours and minutes. There will always be two time zones on the dial when looking at the default screen - so get used to it.
Gucci designed the digital screen to fit in a round space as best as is possible. This required them to get creative with the layout and look of the dial. This has the central two numbers of the time larger than the outer numbers. For me, this proved to be the most difficult part of the watch to get over. Why? Well my brain seemed to think that the larger numbers were separate from the smaller ones. So I kept confusing the time. On this piece, I kept it on a 24 hour format time, but you can switch back and forth with a 12 hour format.
There are a range of other modes to explore, and each is rather straight forward in their use. Sometimes however I would get confused why Gucci added some of the features in the i-Gucci. Per the piece's name they are all sporty, but I'd like to meet the person that wears a piece like this and needs both a regatta timer and digital tachymeter. The i-Gucci Sport contains two chronographs, a digital tachymeter, countdown timer, alarm, regatta timer (basically a five minute countdown timer for yacht racing), and oddly enough - a pedometer. That's right, the i-Gucci is meant for counting your steps while shopping in the mall and then you can swiftly transition to a yacht race all while counting down the time until your flight to Milan. Yes, it also has a backlight.
For what it is, the i-Gucci is not a bad watch. It is unique and well-composed on the wrist. Gucci pushes it as a fashion piece but stopping there would really be undermining the relatively well-designed digital movement and feature set. Though, it is not without its quirks as I mentioned above. I took the i-Gucci on some international travel and it fared well. I liked using the chronograph feature in-flight, and always having two time zones at a glance was very handy when you are far away from home. With a lot of options, the i-Gucci comes in a healthy variety as well. Price isn't cheap though. These Gucci i-Gucci Sport models retail for $1,550. You can buy them via Gucci's e-boutique here.
I like the negative LCD display (black background with orange numerals), but you can also get the i-Gucci with a more traditional LCD display. How easy is it to use the watch? Honestly not that bad. It took me a few minutes to orient myself with the functions, but it isn't that complex once you get the hang of it. Right now the most annoyingly frustrating-to-operate watches are the Japanese analog watches from Citizen and Casio designed to have all the features of their digital counterparts. I loathe operating those. For those more interested, I recommend checking out the Gucci i-Gucci operating manual PDF here.