Gerald Genta, designer and entrepreneur, passes away

I just heard that Gerald Genta has passed away. In recent years he had his own brand Gerald Charles, but his success and legacy will be his designs of the seventies and eighties like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilus, IWC Ingenieur, Bulgari-Bulgari and Omega Constellation. Though he had not designed any significant watch for several years, Mr Genta will nevertheless go down as one of the most important watch designers of the 20th century. In fact he is probably the last of the superstar watch designers; it is difficult to imagine a designer enjoying the same level of success with numerous hits with different brands in today’s saturated market. And it should also be remembered Gerald Genta was more than a watch designer. He was a pioneer in independent, complicated watchmaking. His brand in the eighties and early nineties was a significant maker of highly complicated timepieces, many of which were designed and mostly made in-house. The Gerald Genta brand had two factories, one in Geneva and another in Le Sentier.  Amongst other things his brand made the world’s thinnest minute repeater (impressive if not always reliable) and more famously the first automatic grande et petit sonnerie with Westminster chime (some versions even had a perpetual calendar and tourbillon). In those days Gerald Genta was arguably the only recently established brand doing high complications in significant numbers. His commercial success set the template for later independents where the driving force was an entrepreneur and designer rather than a watchmaker. RIP Gerald Genta. – SJX

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