One of history’s most important and prodigious watchmakers, Gérald Genta “was groundbreaking in that he was really the first independent watch designer,” says Eric Wind, founder of luxury pre-owned watch retailer Wind Vintage.
Born in 1931, Genta studied as a goldsmith and jeweler in Switzerland and was later recruited by watch manufacturer Universal Geneve. It was there, at the age of just 23, that he designed the SAS Polerouter — a watch issued to pilots of the Scandinavian Airlines System, and one of the brand’s greatest successes.
During the mid-1960s, several Swiss watchmaking firms called on the young designer to create what would become their most emblematic models. At Omega, he renewed the Constellation collection; Audemars Piguet approached him to design the Royal Oak; and at Patek Philippe, he created the legendary Nautilus.
“Prior to him, companies used in-house designers who were not named,” explains Wind. “Genta became larger than life by designing watches for essentially all of the important Swiss companies.”
Alongside his collaborations with these brands, Genta launched his own company in 1969. Today, it is set to relaunch under La Fabrique du Temps, Louis Vuitton’s specialist watchmaking operation. With creative direction from renowned watchmaking duo Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini — who previously worked for Genta in the ’80s and ’90s — what can we expect from the revived Genta brand?
Wind has some ideas. “Iconic shapes including…octagonal cases, and bracelets — perhaps the famous rounded, Tic-Tac-shaped bracelets — found on the original GG watches,” he speculates. “He has an incredible design catalogue, and his fingerprints are felt through many of the iconic watch designs today. I am also hoping we see some of the Disney characters” — a reference to the line of Genta watches featuring icons like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy.
Dealers should also anticipate a renewed interest in some of Genta’s oldest vintage models, says Wind. “That has been the case with Daniel Roth watches since [that] company relaunched this year. Values on the older pieces generally increase when a brand relaunches. The Disney and other cartoon-character watches — especially the mechanical ones and not quartz ones — are highly desirable to collectors.”
This article is from the July-August 2023 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.
Main image: Gérald Genta’s Grande Sonnerie watch from 1994, one of the most complicated watches at the time. (Gérald Genta)
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