Hands-On With The Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette In Stainless Steel
Gerald Charles is not a brand we have covered a lot here at Fratello. Founded by the legendary Gérald Genta and named after his first and middle name, it is a brand that has been making waves, though. As a tennis fan, I have seen the watches on the wrists of tennis players like Hubert Hurkacz, Nikoloz Basilashvili, Jenson Brooksby, and, more recently, fellow Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven. Additionally, the brand got famous designer Octavio Garcia on board as the creative director. The first project they worked on was the development of the Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette. We had a chance to go hands-on with the stainless steel version of the watch.
Octavio Garcia is a name that many of you will recognize. The famous designer joined Audemars Piguet in 2003 after working for Omega for four years. At Audemars Piguet, he grew into the role of Chief Artistic Officer, essentially making him responsible for the creativity within the brand from 2010 until 2015. After leaving Audemars Piguet, Garcia started Gorilla. It’s a brand that focuses on much more affordable timepieces, but Garcia’s design signature is still visible. In 2022, Garcia joined Gerald Charles as the Creative Director. Together, they developed the Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette, a watch that is available in stainless steel, titanium, and now also in rose gold.
The story of the Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette
We recently had a chance to go hands-on with the Maestro 8.0 Squelette. Lex wrote about the first release last year in his Monday Morning series of articles. This Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette ref. GC8.0-A-07, however, is the second stainless steel version. The combination of the ultra-technical skeletonized movement and the conservative shapes of the case makes for a watch with a remarkable presence.
With the introduction of that specific model, the brand also announced that Octavio Garcia had worked closely with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier to produce the Gerald Charles caliber GCA 5482. This skeletonized micro-rotor movement complements the classic styling of the characteristic case shape perfectly. It creates a look in the same vein as, for instance, some of the skeletonized Cartier models. This blend of classic and modern aesthetics is something I greatly appreciate as it maintains a great deal of soul. To me, many completely modern skeletonized watches can give off a cold and distant air. But that is not the case with this Maestro 8.0 Squelette.
The specs of the stainless steel version of the Maestro 8.0 Squelette
The Maestro 8.0 Squelette in stainless steel features a case based on that of the Maestro 2.0 Ultra-Thin model. Gérald Genta designed the Maestro case for what would be his last brand endeavor. He started the Gerald Charles brand in 2000 and sold it in 2003. However, he did stay on board as the brand’s lead designer until his passing in 2011. The Maestro case was designed by Genta in 2006. Its design features a combination of square, octagonal, and curved elements for a rather unique look. It’s definitely not your everyday case shape, and I can see it is an acquired taste.
When it comes to specs, the 18-part Maestro case measures 39mm wide, 41mm long without the lugs, 46mm long including the lugs, and 8.35mm thick. With these dimensions, it fits a variety of wrists and has a very slim profile. The size also suits the classical shape, which works better with slim, elegant proportions than a chunky look. However, the stainless steel case is fitted with a 22mm light blue rubber strap, giving the watch a more contemporary overall feel. It even has a sporty 100m water resistance rating. I had to warm up to the watch, but in the end, I came to thoroughly appreciate this meshing of styles a lot. This blend is further emphasized by the combination of the case and the movement.
The skeletonized GCA 5482
As mentioned, Octavio Garcia worked closely with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier to produce the Gerald Charles caliber GCA 5482. This automatic open-worked movement looks rather stunning with its dark presence. The ultra-slim micro-rotor caliber is comprised of 160 parts and is only 2.6mm thick. The dial side of the movement features skeletonized bridges, an overall satin finish, and rhodium-plated, hand-finished angles. The dark anthracite color is realized through a NAC (N-acetylcysteine) treatment, giving the movement a beautiful appearance. Furthermore, it features diamond-polished bevels and apertures for greater contrast and visual attractiveness.
The movement operates at a 21,600vph frequency, has 29 jewels, and provides 50 hours of power reserve. If you turn the watch around, you are greeted by the 22K gold micro-rotor that runs on ceramic bearings. It’s the immediate eyecatcher in the darker surroundings of the other components. It’s an understated movement, but look closer, and you will see that Garcia, his team, and the people at Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier went to great lengths to create a skeletonized work of art with many intricate details. Something that also stands out for me is the shape of the case back. As you can see, it is, essentially, square with rounded corners. Take that image and apply it to the front of the watch, and you will see that there is nothing weird about the Maestro case.
Wearing the stainless steel Maestro 8.0 Squelette
Essentially, Genta applied the same tactics as he did with all his great creations: he took a very basic shape and started altering it to find one that felt familiar but still presented something novel. While the result might not be as impactful as the Royal Oak or the Nautilus, I greatly appreciate this approach as it shows Genta’s characteristic thought processes in the design. We also know that Genta was a big fan of slim watches. Indeed, he made thinness an absolute must when designing the Royal Oak and Nautilus. And with the Maestro case, that is no different. As a result, the Maestro 8.0 Squelette is incredibly easy to wear. Something I am still on the fence about, though, is the handset. The lume-filled cricket-bat-shaped hands are not my favorite, and don’t stand out very well. While the minute track on the periphery of the dial does help to get a clear reading of the time, I would have loved to see hands that were a bit bolder and easier to read at a glance.
The interesting “clash” of styles feels logical on the wrist
The watch is a joy to wear, partly thanks to its great light blue rubber strap and decorative Clous de Paris pattern. The two-piece strap comes with a stainless steel buckle and feels very comfortable. I love that Gerald Charles fitted this edition with a bright-colored strap, as it greatly changes the overall look of the watch. Last year’s model came with a black rubber strap, and while that is a classy combination, I prefer the more jovial vibe of this new model.
I have to say that I greatly appreciate this Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette. It manages to win me over with two elements that I do not gravitate toward at first sight. The classical styling of the case and the skeletonized movement would normally make this a hard pass for me. But somehow, the concept just works. It works in terms of design with its combination of elegance and technical-looking mechanics.
Additionally, even with such a classically inspired but visually powerful case, the colors of the movement and strap help make this a far more contemporary watch than I initially expected. Genta, the Gerald Charles brand, and Octavio Garcia managed to design a watch that special. The Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette in stainless steel is available for pre-order, and deliveries will start in November 2023. The price for this piece is €58,000. That is serious money for a serious watch.
The new Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette in rose gold
This week, Gerald Charles brought more diversity to the Maestro 8.0 Squelette line with the introduction of a rose gold version. This watch provides an elegant counterbalance to the more sporty aesthetic of the stainless steel version in this review. The watch comes with an 18K rose gold case that contrasts super nicely with the anthracite movement. The gold hands and minute track match the case nicely, whereas the Stoned Grey rubber strap nicely matches the movement’s color. This new version is also available for pre-order for €76,400.
The new rose gold version of the Maestro 8.0 Squelette is chic, showing the watch works well in multiple configurations. The more I see the Gerald Charles Maestro models, the more I appreciate Gérald Genta’s Maestro case. As I said, it’s not a case that I would pick out of a lineup of favorite shapes. But leave it up to Genta to come up with something a lot smarter than it might look at first glance. Because of this, the entire Maestro collection is an interesting one to keep an eye on. But the winners in that collection for me are, undoubtedly, the Maestro 8.0 Squelette models. They are truly something different that we do not see every day and great testaments to Genta’s brilliant legacy.
For more information, visit the official Gerald Charles website. Let us know your thoughts on the Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette in the comments section.