Gérald Genta

Gérald Charles Genta (1 May 1931 – 17 August 2011) was a Swiss watch designer and artist. He is known for his eponymous line of timepieces as well as his design work with other high-end watch manufacturers, including IWC, Omega SA, Universal Genève, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. Christie's auction house of New York has called Genta's work "the Fabergé of watches",[1] while The Wall Street Journal has called them the "world's most complicated and pricey watches".[2]

Gérald Genta
Gerald Genta.jpg
Born
Gérald Charles Genta

(1931-05-01)1 May 1931
Died17 August 2011(2011-08-17) (aged 80)
NationalitySwiss
OccupationWatchmaker, businessman, designer
Years active1950–2011

Early lifeEdit

Genta was born in Geneva to a Swiss mother and father of Piemonte (Northern Italian) descent.[citation needed] At age 20, Genta finished jewellery and goldsmith training in his native Switzerland, earning a Swiss federal diploma.[citation needed]

Starting career with Universal GenèveEdit

Subsequently, Genta was recruited by Universal Genève SA, at the time one of the most recognized manufactures in both the U.S. and Europe for its chronograph models.[citation needed] After Universal Genève settled a patent dispute involving the micro-rotor caliber, Genta designed Universal's Polerouter Microtors in the 1950s, as well as the Golden and White Shadows during the mid-1960s.[citation needed] The Shadows contained a micro-rotor, unisonic and accutron movement, the latter two a result of the quartz crisis starting in the late 1960s.[citation needed]

Notable watch designsEdit

Genta's work with Universal would be a precursor to future collaborations with other brands in Switzerland and throughout Europe, including Omega's Constellation (1959); Patek Philippe's Golden Ellipse (1968). Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak (1970), IWC's Ingenieur (1976); Patek Philippe's Nautilus (1976); and Cartier's Pasha de Cartier (1985).[citation needed]

Audemars Piguet Royal OakEdit

One of Genta's most recognisable designs was that of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, which was considered to be the first luxury sports watch in the world.[3] The watch was inspired by traditional diving helmets and therefore featured exposed screw heads as well as a unique case design.[4][5] The watch also featured an integrated bracelet.

Patek Philippe NautilusEdit

In 1976, Patek Philippe introduced the Nautilus collection, designed by Genta, after deciding it was time to produce an exclusive sport watch with finishes of the highest quality.[6][7] The first model was Ref. 3700 and was made of steel.[8] The Nautilus was released by Patek Philippe during the quartz crisis in the hope that it would help re-attract people's attention to high-end Swiss mechanical watches.[7]

The Nautilus collection played a key role in Patek Philippe's overall marketing strategy as it had to refresh the brand image while perpetuating tradition. The target was represented by dynamic business managers of the new generations.[9] The Nautilus wristwatch has become one of the most popular collections from Patek Philippe, and the Ref. 5711 & 5712 models, which the company introduced in 2006 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the collection, are among the most popular models.[7][10]

Eponymous brand & DesignsEdit

 
Gerald Genta Gefica Biretro Safari Blue Note
 
Gerald Genta Gefica Mt. Kilimanjaro

After starting his own brand in 1969, Genta would create the sonneries, among them the Gérald Genta Octo Granda Sonnerie Tourbillion, which contained four gongs and an emulated Westminster Quarters bell ring at each quarter and on the hour, "the same melody rung out by London's Big Ben", and priced at $810,200.[11] In 1994, he designed the Grande Sonnerie Retro, the world's most complicated wristwatch, and priced at approximately $2 million.[12] For private requests, Genta hand-designed the movements, dials and cases of his timepieces and employed limited or no external assistance, outsourcing or mechanization during the process; it was not unusual for a single watch to take up to 5 years to complete.[13]

During the 1980s, Genta obtained special licensing with The Walt Disney Company and distributed a limited edition of Disney character watches to the public; previously, they had been an unofficial private request by one of Genta's repeat customers. The dials consisted of illustrations of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Scrooge and Goofy, with cases made of 18 carat gold. Designed in Le Brassus, Switzerland, the watches retailed between $3250–$3650 in 1988.[14]

Previous clientsEdit

 
Gerald Charles A-Evolution

Genta's clients have included athletes, businesspeople, musicians, movie stars, politicians, and royalty, including Prince Rainier of Monaco, King Hassan II of Morocco, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother of England.[15]

Acquisition by BulgariEdit

After his eponymous company, trade marks, patents and designs were acquired by Bulgari in 2000, Genta resigned and created a new venture called Gerald Charles. As of 2010, Gerald Genta watches were marketed solely under the Bulgari brand. In 2019, Bulgari celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Gerald Genta mark.[16]

DeathEdit

Genta died in 17 August 2011 at the age of 80.[17]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Guest, Tim (2005). My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru (page 258). Mariner Books. ISBN 0-15-603106-X.
  2. ^ The Wall Street Journal (Index, Volume 1; page 429). Dow Jones & Company. 1996. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Fiona Macdonald. "The most iconic timepieces of the last 100 years". Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  4. ^ "History of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak". Time and Watches | The watch blog. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  5. ^ Williams, Alex (2016-01-04). "How the Royal Oak Watch Became a Cult Classic". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  6. ^ GENEVE, PATEK PHILIPPE SA. "Patek Philippe | Company | History". Patek Philippe SA. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  7. ^ a b c "Secrets of the Patek Philippe Nautilus | Christie's". www.christies.com. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  8. ^ "History of the Patek Philippe Nautilus, Part 1 - The Birth of an Icon, the 3700 (1976/1990)". Monochrome Watches. 2016-10-11. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  9. ^ History of the Patek Philippe Nautilus, 2015
  10. ^ Koch, Written byJens (2018-12-14). "Luxury in Steel: A History of the Patek Philippe Nautilus". WatchTime - USA's No.1 Watch Magazine. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  11. ^ Jack Forster, "For whom the bell tolls; For thee if you wear a minute repeater, the most complicated watch there is", p. 101 December 2009 Forbes Life
  12. ^ Aylmer, Editor in Chief, Sean (1998). Business Review Weekly (Volume 13, Issues 33-42). Fairfax Media.
  13. ^ Chilton &, Co (1995). Jewelers' circular-keystone (CK., Volume 166, Issues 7-9).
  14. ^ Texas Monthly (December 1988). Emmis Communications. 1988.
  15. ^ "The Genta Touch" (PDF). Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  16. ^ "SIHH 2019 - Bvlgari Gerald Genta 50th Anniversary 103191 Arena Bi-Retro". Monochrome Watches. 2019-01-15. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  17. ^ "Tribute to Gérald Genta". Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2011.