Over the past few years, Gorilla has emerged as one of the most brash and divisive on the microbrand scene. Their watches are colorful, use non traditional materials, and are sized as if the trend toward smaller watches that’s been taking shape as of late never happened at all. There’s also the matter of branding. Before buying a Gorilla, you’re forced to ask yourself, “Am I sure I want to own a watch that says ‘Gorilla’ on the dial?” For some adventurous collectors, the answer is an enthusiastic yes, and we’ve seen a slew of new colorways and limited editions based on their Fastback platform that bear that out. The brand recently introduced their first chronograph, the Thunderbolt, and it appears to share much of the genetic material of the original Gorillas, which means, after all, that it has something in common with our own.
The Thunderbolt, though completely contemporary in appearance, is something of a throwback in that it quite proudly boasts of making use of a Dubois Depraz chronograph module. In a lot of watch enthusiast circles, these modules occasionally come under some scorn. They tend to result in thicker, clunkier watches, and have a reputation for being more difficult to service, though there are disagreements on that front among the more technically inclined. In any case, the Thunderbolt actually calls out Dubois Depraz by name on the dial, which is quite unusual, but speaks to the pride both brands have with respect to their collaboration on the Thunderbolt.
The module itself is DD-268, which is laid atop the ETA 2892 base caliber. The end result is a two register layout with a minute counter at 9:00, running seconds at 3:00, and a chronograph seconds hand mounted at the dial’s center. The module has been skeletonized, creating a considerable depth effect when looking down on it, and finished with a black coating. Arabic numerals counting the minutes appear to float above the dial, which presents as a series of gears and bridges, some black coated and some not. It’s chaotic but fun, and as these types of dials go it’s not very hard to read, thanks in large part to Gorilla’s use of color to differentiate between the various chronograph and time telling functions.
The case is constructed from grade five titanium and is in the now familiar, not quite rectangular shape that Gorilla has been using from the start. It’s DLC coated in black to match the dial, and has an orange aluminum “pinstripe” running through its midsection, a nod to the car culture that has always influenced Gorilla’s design. The crown, bezel and pushers are ceramic, and the caseback is titanium. This all begs the question: how many different materials can conceivably be used in a single case? Comment below if you have a candidate that tops this.
As you’d probably expect, this is a big watch. It measures 44mm in diameter and a lengthy 57mm lug to lug. But you didn’t buy a Gorilla for discretion. This is a watch, like seemingly every watch made by the brand, that is meant to be seen and start a conversation. But if “refined” is a word that holds a lot of meaning in your watch purchases, you should probably look elsewhere.
You should also look elsewhere if you’re in search of something that’s meaningfully affordable. The Thunderbolt’s retail price is $8,500, which is a considerable sum for a modular chronograph, its unique execution notwithstanding. Only 99 pieces will be made, and orders can be placed now with Gorilla for December delivery. Gorilla