Watch lovers around the world hear the name Gerald Genta and they stop and listen. Why? Because this ahead-of-his-time genius created some of the most iconic timepieces of the modern watchmaking era. So, how do you have the chance to own an original Gerald Genta work of art? By bidding next spring at the three auctions being held by Sotheby’s of 100 of Genta’s works, including his own Audemars Piguet watch, and his original drawings of the most famous watches of all time.
Best known in the watch world as a truly legendary designer, and the first true watch designer, Gerald Genta revolutionized watchmaking with his iconic designs and visionary style. This is the man behind so many esteemed timepieces, including the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the contemporary Pasha for Cartier (1985) and his own incredible line of Gefica and Disney watches.
Now, for the first time, Genta’s private archives are being opened and 100 of his original designs will be auctioned at Sotheby’s staring in spring 2022. The sale includes never-before-seen designs that were privately commissioned, and some of the most iconic designs. Some are even being paired with unique NFTs. It is the true watch lover’s dream to own a piece of history that is Holy Grail worthy and now 100 lucky people will have that chance.
Gerald Genta’s Illustrious Career
Throughout his career, Genta designed a new watch almost daily, with each beginning with a single circle drawn with his compass, and then embellished and improved according to his fantastic designer’s eye. At the young age of 23, he created the Universal Geneve SAS Polerouter watch that commemorated the polar flights of the Scandinavian airline. It earned him great attention and in the ensuring years, especially during the 1970’s and ‘80’s, Genta was sought out by the finest watch brands in the world to create new designs for them. From the aforementioned big brands, to Omega, Hamilton, Bulgari, Seiko and others, Genta’s designs were golden.
When he began his own company in 1969, along with his wife Evelyne, it was to create masterpieces for special clients, including celebrities and royalty. That business blossomed and he began creating collections of exceptional mechanical watches.
My Personal Experiences with Gerald Genta
I was lucky enough to join the watch industry in the early 1980’s and each year I got to sit in a small booth with him at the Basel Watch and Jewelry exhibition (today known as Baselworld) while he personally presented his newest watches to me. He was so passionate about his creations and about designing that his enthusiasm was contagious. It was always one of my favorite meetings and I quickly learned that it needed to be my first meeting so that it set the tone for the rest of the show. I remember his first bronze Gefica Safari watch – marking the first time bronze was used in modern day watchmaking. I remember loving the Mickey collection of watches with retrograde hands and jumping hours. I could sit for hours listening to him explain the mechanics in detail and I was always mesmerized.
Today, Genta is deemed the first true watch designer in modern history. His ability to conceive of new shapes, new materials, new complications and more propelled him to the forefront and his designs became lasting homages to him and legendary icons for the brands. Genta eventually sold his company after 30 years and subsequently his brand was purchased by Bulgari, which this year created a tribute series.
The Sotheby’s Gerald Genta Heritage Auction
Among the designs set to be auctioned is the original drawing of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, as well as the Nautilus, each with a paired NFT. In total, 100 pieces of art will be sold, along with Gena’s own Royal Oak watch, in several dedicated sales that will take place in Geneva, Hong Kong and New York. Additionally, four original oil paintings well be sold. A portion of the proceeds from the three auctions will be donated to the Gerald Genta Heritage Association, which is inaugurating the Gerald Genta Prize for Young Talent. Genta’s watercolor paintings of watches are being paired with a unique NFT (non-fungible token) that is a replica of the design in the picture.
This article by Roberta Naas first appeared on Forbes.com.