Gerald Genta - the man who created the legends

Gerald Genta - the man who created the legends 16 April 2019
Universal Genève SA, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, IWC, Graff, Van Cleef & Arpels, Vacheron Constantin, Bvlgari is a partial list of iconic European watch manufacturers, which are united by one name - Gerald Genta.

In the watchmaking world, it is incredibly difficult to find a master who would be known just like Genta. For almost half a century, this Italian has defined the style of legendary watches, many of which have become bestsellers, and to this day they determine the face of the brands that produce them. According to many experts, Royal Oak, Ingenieur SL, Vacheron Constantin 222, Nautilus are the most iconic works of Gerald Genta, which without exaggeration can be called masterpieces, and their creator is a genius. How does this or that idea come to the genius? How to see in ordinary things what will later become a masterpiece of watchmaking?


For example, Gerald Genta developed the steel model Royal Oak for the Audemars Piguet brand in just one night. The master was inspired by the old diving helmet, which was attached to the suit with the help of rather big screws. The result of the creation is an octagonal bezel with 8 screws, a distinctive feature of this model, as well as a rather large diameter (38.5 mm) and an unexpectedly thin steel case. The simple octagonal design invented by the designer is firmly entrenched in the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore lines and is preserved in all modern models of this brand's collections. By the way, after the steel version, versions appeared in cases made of gold, platinum, tantalum and composite materials.


An even more interesting story of the appearance of other legendary watches Patek Philippe Nautilus. Genta dined in a restaurant with Henry and Philip Sterns from Patek Philippe. At the table, the topic of ideal sports watches was discussed. During this conversation, the designer began to draw. Sketched the waves of the sea, the shell, the obscure outlines of the watch case, which resembled a porthole. The dinner was over, as was the conversation, and Jent's napkin was saved. A couple of years the designer received an order from the watch company Piaget to develop a sports watch, light, thin and comfortable. Genta remembered his drawing and sent it to the customer. But the cooperation did not work out. Piaget returned the sketch. In 1974, Gerald Genta went to BaselWorld, where he met with Patek Philippe's agent in Arab countries, Mr. Foilleta, who asked the designer if he could offer sports and at the same time elegant watches. A napkin with a draft had another chance, which became successful. Two years later, under the Patek Philippe brand, the first Nautilus watches came out, which, without exaggeration, became an icon that changed the modern watch market.


Although the glory of the model did not come immediately, because the proposed version was significantly different from those that were present at the time on the market. The first difference is the steel case. Prior to this, the company Patek Philippe mainly produced chronographs exclusively from precious metals and non-sports models. The second difference is the shape of the clock. The dial of the model was framed by a smooth wide bezel of a round or oval shape; on the sides of the case, there were strange protrusions, because of which the dial looked more like a porthole. This hull design without additional sealing could withstand 120 m under water! The third difference is the size of Nautilus. Today, no one will be surprised by 42 mm, and in the mid-1970s such a format alerted potential customers of Patek Philippe. Surprisingly, all these revolutionary differences over time turned this model into a cult one.


No less significant was the design of Gerald Genta Overseas watches for Vacheron Constantin. Before the master was tasked to create high-tech watches that would satisfy the requests of travelers in an elegant chronograph. That he successfully performed. The case with a noticeable rim of the dial, reminiscent of the Maltese cross, a metal bracelet with large geometric links - in these details the firm-style dzhentovsky design shows itself in full force. The first Overseas was 37 mm in size, water resistant to 150 m. Later, smaller versions with a diameter of 34 mm and 25 mm were released. Another distinctive feature of the gold case was the gasket of the so-called "soft iron", which protected the mechanism from the effects of magnetic fields.


These are just three models of Gerald Genta from many other great discoveries of the master in the design of chronometers, which forever secured him the status of the genius of the watch world.


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