Gerald Genta’s Iconic Watch Designs | SwissWatchExpo

Gerald Genta’s Iconic Watch Designs | SwissWatchExpo


Watch History. Gerald Genta, and his iconic
watch designs. Gerald Genta may be little known outside the
watch industry, but his creations and designs are certainly recognizable to many until today. Here
are the most famous watches made by the legendary designer. Arguably his most famous creation, the Audemars
Piguet Royal Oak is the first luxury sports watch ever made. The company sought to create
something totally new for the time, in order to keep the business afloat. The Swiss watch industry was having troubled
financial conditions due to the booming quartz watch business. Audemars Piguet realized that
without a disruptive change, their business was about to collapse. They brought in no less than the most famous
and prolific watch designer at that time – Gerald Genta. In 24 hours, Genta created the design for
the Royal Oak. Foregoing silver and gold which were usually
used in watches, the Royal Oak used steel, had a unique octagonal shaped bezel and an
integrated bracelet. It was meant to be luxurious, as it was robust. The luxury sports watch
as we know it today was born. Next is the Omega Constellation, which is
the most disputed of all of Genta’s creations. This is because the custom of the time was
not to credit a designer, but the owner of the watch company. However, Gerald’s wife confirms that her
husband designed at least two Constellation models, seen here – the Ref. 168.009 C-Shape
at left, and the Ref. 168.005 at right, which remains the definitive steel Constellation
model. Famous for his quick turnarounds and fantastic
outcomes, Gerald has famously said that he designed the Patek Philippe Nautilus in only
5 minutes. Sitting across Patek executives in the Basel
of 1970, Gerald felt the urge to design something. He brought then to paper and did the sketch
on the spot. Knowing that owners of Patek Philippe were
enthusiastic yachtsmen, he designed the Nautilus with a bezel that resembles a porthole or
a ship’s window. Following the success of the Royal Oak, Patek
Philippe decided to launch it as their own sports watch. The Nautilus debuted in 1976,
and many of its details are still alive and well in current versions of the watch – including
the famous case shape and the dial’s horizontal grooves. But not all of Genta’s designs are original.
He has been commissioned to reimagine watches for modern times, just like the Cartier Pasha. The Cartier Pasha was first created in the
1930s, especially for the Pasha or ruler of Marrakech. He wanted a sophisticated watch
that he can also wear during his daily swims. This request gave birth to Cartier’s first
water-resistant watch. Fifty years later, Genta reinvented the watch
– this time, with the distinctive screw-down crown cap and bold Arabic numerals on its
dial. It has since become one of the best-selling
models from Cartier. Finally, we have the IWC Ingenieur, which
was also reimagined by Gerald. It has been around since the 1950s but Gerald’s redesign
helped it gain its iconic status. IWC commissioned Genta to modernize the design of the Ingenieur,
which was then one of their most popular watches. Launched in 1976, the Ingenieur SL designed
by Genta featured some of the codes that were already seen in the Royal Oak but tailored
it to IWC’s demands. It featured a tonneau shape with a round bezel a gillo style and
the addition of five visible screws on the watch’s bezel. The aesthetic changes were
impressive but kept the main features of the IWC watch – great legibility and a perfect
timing capacity. Did you know that one man was responsible
for all those iconic watches? That Gerald Genta’s designs are still alive and being
used today means one thing – he was a visionary craftsman, whose works will influence horology
forever.

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