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Revolutionary watch designer Gerald Genta dies aged 80

by Michael Weare
18 August, 2011
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Gerald-Genta

The death has been announced of Gerald Genta, one of the most important Swiss watch designers of the 20th century.

Born in Geneva in May 1931 of humble origins, Genta was imbued not only with an Italian flair for design, but also with a meticulous, rigorous and disciplined technical approach – qualities inherent to the Swiss watchmaking tradition.

The World’s first watch designer

He established himself in 1961 as the world’s first ‘watch designer’. By 1969 he formed Gerald Genta, his own highly successful watch manufacture. In addition to his own line of timepieces, Genta also contributed significantly to the designs of Swiss luxury watch brands including IWC, Universal Geneve, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, among several others, and his influence on these brands is still evident today.

Iconic and influential design

Genta designed IWC’s classic Jumbo Ingenieur in 1970. He was also famous for designing Patek Philippe’s Nautilus model and the now imuch emulated Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. It was Genta who first introduced the then revolutionary idea of stainless steel for luxury sports watches.

Some of Genta’s most important designs included a sonnerie, the Gérald Genta Octo Granda Sonnerie Tourbillion, which has four gongs and rings the Westminster Quarters melody at each quarter and on the hour, ‘the same melody rung out by London’s Big Ben’, and cost over $810,000.

In 1994 he designed what he considered to be his masterpiece, the Grande Sonnerie Retro, the world’s most complicated wristwatch, priced at $2 million.

Grande Sonnerie Retro Gerald Genta Bulgari

After his eponymous company was acquired by Bulgari, Genta resigned from the company and created a new venture called Gerald Charles in 2001. Here he continued to design important watches such as the Tourbillon Miroir Maestro. Many of his designs for Gerald Charles are sold out.

In his later years Genta devoted himself to painting as much as to watch designing and held several successful exhibitions of his work including a notable return to Baselworld in 2006 where he invited visitors to take a creative journey through some of his exceptional creations.

In 2011 several online watch blogs reported about a watch that Genta had recently designed for the Swedish watch brand Arlanch although only a sketch was submitted.

Gerald Genta died on August 17th at the age of 80. His influence on contemporary watchmaking will remain for decades to come.

Gerald Charles Genta, May 1st 1931 – August 17th 2011

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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