Is the hype for luxury sports watches with integrated bracelets over? If you look at a benchmark in this market segment, the steel Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo,” which sold for four times retail at the height of the wave, is now going for “just” twice the price on the secondary market. So, yes, the ultra-hype might have died down, but that doesn’t mean high-end watches with integrated bracelets are done for. Still, it is fair to ask if a price drop of an icon has consequences for newcomer watches that have yet to reach a similar status. How desirable is, for instance, the new Gerald Charles Masterlink Blue in light of current market developments? I went hands-on with the watch with a lot on my mind.

Why do you desire a certain watch? Is it because you want to make money by flipping it, or because you are smitten by its good looks? There are other reasons, of course, but these are possibly the most opposite ones. So why would the Gerald Charles Masterlink Blue (ML1.0-A-01) be on anyone’s wish list? The Gerald Charles brand is, of course, the brand of legendary watch designer Gérald Genta. He started it in 2000 and gave it his first two given names. Today’s review subject, the new Masterlink, is a modern take on the Maestro, a 2006 Genta design. Octavio Garcia, the creative director of Gerald Charles, is no stranger to working with Genta designs as he once worked for Audemars Piguet. He gave the Masterlink a look that’s in line with the Maestro but is squarer than the 2006 design. And then there’s the integrated bracelet, of course.

Gerald Charles Masterlink Blue

The slim, strong, and sporty Gerald Charles Masterlink Blue

The Masterlink case is slimmer and smaller than the Maestro it is derived from, yet it also looks stronger. This squared 38 × 38mm steel case (44.9mm including the lugs) doesn’t have a stepped bezel but a flattened one, and it looks more muscular than the Maestro. In addition, the signature concave depression inspired by Francesco Borromini’s Roman Baroque architecture seems to work better with the overall design.

Masterlink Blue

That’s because the asymmetric case’s so-called “smile” at 6 o’clock is quite literally more integrated due to the bracelet. Just like the case, this bracelet is an asymmetric affair, and it echoes the curve at the bottom of the case and gradually straightens. At the top of the 7.99mm-thick case, the transition to the bracelet is more straightforward. The differences between the transitions, though, create a special dynamic.

Gerald Charles

Vertical lines and a sunburst pattern

The case has a distinct shape that merges a rectangle with an oval. We also find a mixing of shapes in the Royal Oak (a circle within an octagon), and this was typical of Genta. The dial of the Masterlink is also very Genta. The Patek Philippe Nautilus is famous for its case shape, sure, but the sunburst blue dial textured with horizontal lines also defines the Genta-designed timepiece. The Masterlink Blue also shows a sunburst blue dial textured with lines, which are vertical this time. The dial is made of two separate, layered levels, and it also shows a white minute track, applied Arabic numerals, stick hour markers, and matching stick-style hands with Super-LumiNova.

The vertical lines make the case look less stocky and direct the eye to the bracelet, which flows out of the case both visually and physically. Since this 31-part 38mm case is just 7.99mm thick, it combines with the bracelet for a continuous and, indeed, integrated feel. Better still, despite its slim profile, it boasts 100m water resistance and a screw-down crown.

Gerald Charles

The bezel shows vertical satin brushing, matching the lines of the dial, and the central links of the bracelet also show a vertical satin-brushed finish. By contrast, the outer links match the shiny, polished surfaces of the case middle. The absence of visible screws and a hidden butterfly clasp create a very smooth appearance. A practical aspect of the bracelet is that it allows the wearer to add or remove half links instead of whole links for more accurate sizing. But this functional characteristic is also luxurious because it leads to optimal comfort.

Gerald Charles

A micro-rotor caliber from Vaucher

Inside a case as slim as this one, there’s no place for a thick central-rotor movement. That’s why an automatic movement with a micro-rotor makes its appearance through the rear sapphire crystal. Vaucher from Fleurier made the 2.7mm-slim movement exclusively for Gerald Charles, and it looks fabulous. The gray and gold-colored parts create a dynamic and modern look, which the micro-rotor emphasizes with its geometrical engraving.

The large bridges of the 3Hz caliber GCA 5401 show vertical Côtes de Genève, echoing the vertical lines on the dial. Under the gray bridges, the gold-colored movement parts create a contrasting visual spectacle. And the attention to detail doesn’t stop there. The screws, for instance, are original Gerald Charles star-shaped screws, which you might have seen before in the Maestro 8.0 Squelette.


Gerald Charles Masterlink Blue: past, present, and future

The Gerald Charles brand is just 24 years old, but its history reaches further back because of its founder. The wave of luxury sports watches with integrated bracelets might be not as high as it was a year ago, but this type of watch is still very much in demand. The Gerald Charles Masterlink Blue benefits from the past and fits in the present. It also fits my wrist very well. I first encountered the watch the day before Watches and Wonders 2024 started, and I was positively surprised by the size, shape, finishing, color, and movement. The remodeled Maestro case looks sporty and sophisticated at the same time since it’s just 7.99mm thick. Furthermore, the asymmetric integrated bracelet uplifts the case and, consequently, the overall look of the watch.

Answering some questions

The article started with a couple of questions. Now’s the time to try to answer them. First, is the link to the past strong enough to ensure a bright future for the Gerald Charles Masterlink? Since the Maestro design still holds its own 18 years after its conception, I think the squared version of the watch can do the same. It also helps that the Masterlink, with its integrated bracelet, looks original and creative but also balanced and mature. The Masterlink is also available with a silver dial, and future versions — I’m thinking a champagne dial would look good— could keep the watch in the spotlight.

Now on to the flippers. The Gerald Charles Masterlink Blue is not a watch for them because the market has changed. Alternatives to the icons that rule the roost are no longer thriving as surrogates and, instead, have to stand on their own. And that’s a good thing. If you buy something that kind of looks like something you can’t get, it will never fully satisfy your horological desires. And then what? You will either leave the watch in the box or try to sell it, with all the frustrations of not getting your “investment” back as a result.

Gerald Charles Masterlink Blue

You buy the Gerald Charles Masterlink Blue because you adore its good looks and have serious money to spend. The new Masterlink Blue retails for €19,500 / £18,400 / US$23,000 before tax. That puts it in a category with the H. Moser Streamliner Centre Seconds Matrix Green and Purple Haze, for instance, as well as the Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS with its L.U.C micro-rotor movement. Both the Moser and the Chopard are also watches you buy for the love of the product and nothing else. It’s personal taste that leads, not the business side of things. The final question is this: would you spend 20K or more on a Gerald Charles, a Moser, or a Chopard? Let me know in the comments.

Watch specifications

Masterlink Blue
Sunburst blue base with vertical stripes, white minute track, Super-LumiNova on applied Arabic numerals, indexes, and stick hands
Case Material
316L stainless steel with brushed and polished finishes, 31 parts, screw-down crown with Clous de Paris pattern
Case Dimensions
38mm (diameter) × 38mm/44.9mm (length without/with lugs) × 7.99mm (thickness)
Sapphire with AR coating
Case Back
Stainless steel and sapphire crystal
Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier GCA5401: automatic with unidirectional micro rotor, 21,600vph frequency, 50h power reserve, 29 jewels
Water Resistance
10 ATM (100 meters)
Asymmetric integrated stainless steel bracelet with polished and satin-brushed links, push-button butterfly clasp, micro-link for fine adjustment, available in three lengths (157, 205, and 222mm)
Time only (hours and minutes)
€19,500 / £18,400 / US$23,000 (excluding tax)