Best known in the watchmaking world as a truly legendary designer, Gerald Genta revolutionized modern watchmaking with his iconic designs and visionary style. He’s 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 open and 100 of her original creations will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in the spring of 2022. The sale includes previously unseen creations that have been privately commissioned, and some of the most iconic creations . Some are even associated with unique NFTs. It is a true watch lover’s dream to own a holy grail piece of history and now 100 lucky people will have this chance.
Throughout his career, Genta has designed a new watch almost daily, each starting with a single circle drawn with his compass, then embellished and improved according to his fantastic designer eye. At the age of 23, he created the Universal Geneve SAS Polerouter watch which commemorates the polar flights of the Scandinavian airline. This earned it great attention and in the following years, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, Genta was approached by the best watch brands in the world to create new models for them. From the aforementioned big brands to Omega, Hamilton, Bulgari, Seiko and others, Genta’s designs were golden.
When he started his own business in 1969, with his wife Evelyne, it was all about creating masterpieces for special clients, including celebrities and royalty. This business flourished and he began to create collections of exceptional mechanical watches.
I was fortunate enough to join the watch industry in the early 1980s and every year I got to sit in a small booth with him at Basel Watch and Jewelry (now Baselworld) while he Personally presented his latest watches to me. He was so passionate about his creations and design that his enthusiasm was infectious. It was always one of my favorite dates and I quickly realized that it had to be my first date to set the tone for the rest of the show. I remember his first Gefica Safari watch in bronze – marking the first use of bronze in modern 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 still fascinated.
Today, Genta is considered the first true watch designer in modern history. His ability to design new shapes, new materials, new complications and more propelled him to the fore and his designs have become lasting tributes to him and legendary icons for brands. Genta finally sold his business after 30 years and subsequently his brand was bought by Bulgari, who created a tribute series this year.
Sotheby’s Gerald Genta Heritage Auctions
Among the designs up for auction is the original design of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, as well as the Nautilus, each with a matched NFT. A total of 100 pieces of art will be sold, along with Gena’s Royal Oak watch, in several dedicated auctions that will take place in Geneva, Hong Kong and New York. In addition, four original oil paintings will be well sold. A portion of the proceeds from the three auctions will be donated to the Gerald Genta Heritage Association, which inaugurates the Gerald Genta Prize for Young Talent. Genta’s watch watercolors are paired with a unique NFT (non-fungible token) which is a replica of the image’s design.