Iconic and Legendary are two often overused words, but in the case of Gérald Genta, you could argue they are entirely accurate.
Gérald Genta was born in 1931 in Geneva and by the age of 20 he had graduated in jewellery and goldsmith making, earning a diploma.
Genta was in no way privileged and, in fact, came from a very very poor family, so it’s a testament to his hard work and vision that he was recruited by the Swiss Watchmaker Universal Genève, famed both in Europe and the USA for its classical and practical Chronographs. In the 1950’s, Genta designed Universal’s classic model The Polerouter, a model designed to celebrate SAS Airlines flights from New York/Los Angeles to Helsinki, the first airline to fly a transarctic course. It is worth noting that Genta would have been only 23 at this time, so someone must have spotted his burgeoning talent.
Genta continued his work into the 1960’s when his prodigious and successful output was becoming noticed by some of the most prestigious brands. One of his first commissions was to redesign the Omega constellation collection, which in itself was a huge success. However, it was the 1970’s when Genta’s unique and visionary work really made its indelible mark on the watch world. In the early 1970’s, Maison Audemars Piguet commissioned Genta to create the now iconic Royal Oak. Reportedly created in just one evening, Genta drew his inspiration from a diver wearing a traditional diving helmet attached to the diving suit by just eight screws.
Genta re-created these 8 screws on the bezel of a unique case design integrated with a specially designed bracelet. The first watch was made of stainless steel. Genta concentrates the eye on using this material to its best advantage with a combination of brushed and polished surfaces. The Royal Oak is known as the world’s first sports watch. Today, models such as the Extra-Thin 15202ST are now amongst the worlds most coveted watches.
Sketches of the Royal Oak and the Nautilus courtesy of the Gérald Genta Heritage Association.
But The Royal Oak was not the only of Genta’s iconic designs to stand the test of time. Patek Philippe had also courted this visionary designer for a new collection. Taking inspiration from transatlantic ocean liners with echoes of a ship’s porthole, the Nautilus marries the angular lines of the contemporary with soft rounded curves of classic watchmaking. The Nautilus continues to be one of Patek’s most coveted contemporary watches.
Genta’s work was indeed many and varied with over 10,000 designs and he created other now famed pieces like the IWC Ingenieur, the Bulgari Bulgari. Indeed Genta created watches for manufactures as diverse as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chaumet, Hamilton, Bulgari, Seiko and Timex.
Under his own manufacture, Genta created unique pieces for Royalty, business people, sport people and entertainers. A fine example of these unique pieces was the Gefica (named after the three individuals who commissioned the watch Geoffroy, Fissore et Canali), a now much sought after hunting watch in bronze.
If you want to understand more of Genta’s unique talent and vision, then we would urge you to take a look at the amazing website https://www.geraldgenta-heritage.com
Courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Today Genta watches are desired coveted and treasured. If you are looking for a Genta watch, then let our specialist concierge service know and we will do our best to find one of these iconic timepieces.
We would also like to thank the excellent Podcast Independent Thinking by Fifth Wrist Radio and their excellent interview with Evelyne and Alexia Genta.