LVMH Is Reviving The Gérald Genta Brand, Marking The Return Of Odd-Shaped Cool
We all love Gérald Genta, but in fact, this article started very differently. My idea was to write about the best of Genta, which is a decent-enough approach. But nerd-diving into Royal Oak references and the immense charm of a brown-dial rose gold Nautilus has been done before, right? Nothing against his well-known grails; I’ve tried to dislike the Nautilus but still love it, no matter how inaccessible it is. But news appeared that the Gérald Genta brand is being revived, and that’s a bigger story altogether.
LVMH has been telling the world of its planned rebirth of the Gérald Genta brand. It has already had Bvlgari cameos but will now have a dedicated team and a new future. So a big bravo(!) to that and what might be some charmingly odd shapes. Bvlgari has shown us the way, and the brand Gerald Charles is already at it, doing a pretty damn good job too. So this is where I try to predict the future while sharing the perfect quirky neo-baroque charm of the still-young Gerald Charles brand. Odd shapes make great wristwear, and they’re a lot more interesting than yet another vintage diver, eh?
A bold move by LVMH
We all know the power of revitalized Genta through the massive success of the Octo series by Bvlgari. But we’ve now come far enough into the ultra-thin future for me to have to remind people of the original Octo — you know, the non-thin Bvlgari Octo that now represents real value for money. But was that the OG-OG? No sir, that was Gérald Genta’s eponymous GG Octo, complete with weird crown protrusions and trademark retrograde displays. I’m telling you this because there is more coming, with perhaps even stranger shapes and quirkier dials…and not from Bvlgari. LVMH is indeed leaving the tearaway Octo success story to the magical pen of Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani since that now has a life of its own. Simultaneously, however, the group is embarking on a new, ambitious relaunch of the Gérald Genta brand, and we’re excited.
Is octagonal cool for all?
The Gérald Genta pieces in the image above will make a few of you jump for joy and most of you stare wide-eyed at the octagonal madness. Don’t worry, we’re not returning to a world of the ’90s bling-fest that imbued many a Genta watch with a sultry air of cocktail-party fits. I’d love it, but that’s a different story. The new Genta pieces will be produced by La Fabrique du Temps, Louis Vuitton’s watchmaking manufacture, and the signals are intriguing. Its chief watchmakers have the blessings of Evelyne Genta, who has also granted them access to Aladdin’s Cave, namely, Gerald’s archives of sketches. The vibe coming from other watch and non-watch sites is that LVMH will position the brand as a contemporary take on watchmaking. So what does that mean?
Octagonal madness and oval retrograde fun…or not
Well, if we consider the design gap between the retrograde GG Octo above and today’s slim, matte Finissimo, that should give you some idea. But futurist octagons notwithstanding, I loved the last iterations of the retrograde Mickey Mouse, Genta-branded pieces from Bvlgari. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of retro fun, and to be honest, I find the sleek matte cases of the upper-level Finissimos somewhat clinical. That’s why I find the choice of La Fabrique Du Temps a delightful one, the manufacture having moved the Louis Vuitton brand up the rungs of the horological ladder. Its creations have included the GPHG-nominated CHF 299,000 Tambour Curve Flying Tourbillon, a menacing grail. Judging by this alone, we can only imagine what can happen with the quirky inspiration of Gérald, even if Mickey might not return.
Gerald Charles and the baroque Genta
But quirky Genta watches are already available from Gerald Charles. This is an independent Swiss brand that I’ve known since about 2021 for a curvy reason. The brand was started by Gérald Charles Genta, the maestro himself, in 2000. It was sold in 2003, but Genta stayed on as chief designer until 2011. Each watch in today’s catalog is based on the original GG designs, and it shows in a charmingly baroque way. No octagons here. Instead, the Maestro series has a case shape that vaguely resembles a Daniel Roth design at 12. The angled pushers on the Maestro 3.0 Chronograph follow the case shape, and at 6 o’clock, it all goes wonderfully polygon-baroque. In a double-tiered flow of compound curves, the case looks like nothing else and is wildly polarizing. To me, contrarian as I am, this is nothing but a huge bonus, underlining its flamboyant vibe.
A new slim Genta tourbillon
With prices starting from US$19,000 for the left-crowned GC Sport and US$24,000 for the Chronograph, the Gerald Charles range is top tier. For me, the charm is more than sexy curves and a sweet-sized 39mm × 41.7mm curvaceous case. I love the fact that GC is going all out on the boldness scale, with this dressy watch coming with a decidedly sporty knurled crown and a contrasting hobnail-patterned rubber strap. The dials are bright green or a Genta-fave deep blue sunburst, with a black option for the more wrist-shy among us. All are endowed with sharp, angled indices with lume inserts and suave baton hands. This juxtaposed nature beats me wearing Nike Air Force 1 ’07s with a deep blue wool suit in Milano, and I can only applaud the brand.
My choice is a gem-set tourbillon
If I had the budget, I would go for the new Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon. The twirling ballerina gives the case a natural reason for its downturned curve at 6 o’clock. It might be an investment at US$95,800, but the tourbillon is a natural fit. The movement is a bespoke GCA3024/12 caliber by designed by the brand’s creative director Octavio Garcia with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier. The slim tourbillon cage deftly incorporates the GC logo in a svelte 9mm-thick steel case, with a 22ct rose gold rotor spinning above the high-end Vaucher movement. I would even level up to the sapphire-bezel edition. After all, why stop the pizzazz at an intriguing tourbillon? The deep blue gems work a treat matching the rich dial tone, but the price for this version is on request only, so I’d better not tell the wife.
So, Fratelli, was this a step too far from normal-looking round watches, or would you consider something oddly shaped? Anyone with a car- or house-sized watch budget can go the easy way and find a beautiful Patek or Vacheron, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I’m all watches with a ton of personality, and while we’re waiting for LVMH, Gerald Charles is it. Let me know what you think in the comments.
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