The Gérald Genta brand, which has recently been revived by La Fabrique du Temps (LFT), the watchmaking manufacture of Louis Vuitton, makes its debut with a unique creation for Only Watch 2023. The Gérald Genta Only Watch 2023 retains the brand’s signature octagonal case, a shape historically known as the “Success”, while showcasing the whimsical side of the brand with a champlevé enamel dial featuring Mickey Mouse carrying a birthday cake. And like many past Gérald Genta watches, it tells the time with a retrograde minutes and jumping hours – along with a minute repeater.
The long awaited comeback of Gérald Genta, a given after its sister brand Daniel Roth was resurrected, raised expectations given the brand’s elaborate complications of the 1990s as well as the current technical prowess of LFT. Unsurprisingly, the brand has combined two of the best known themes from its short history, the Fantasy line of Disney-licensed watches and striking complications.
The watch is essentially a homage to Gérald Genta’s best hits of the 1990s. The Mickey House dial is a nod to the Fantasy watches, most of which had retrograde displays. And the octagonal case is modelled on the Success, a bestseller for the brand at the time.
That said, the new case design has the addition of lugs that feel slightly out of place. The original Success designs either did without lugs entirely or had simple horizontal bar lugs, both of which arguably work better with the octagonal shape.
Inside is a a complicated movement that combines a retrograde minutes, jumping hours, and minute repeater. But the GG-001 movement inside is an LFT calibre, rather than one of the original Gerald Genta movements that are still used by Bulgari (which owned the brand until it was transferred to Louis Vuitton). Installing one of the Gérald Genta calibres inside this would have arguably made it more complete.
Estimated at CHF350,000-500,000, the Gérald Genta repeater is amongst the most valuable lots in the sale. Although that might seem like a big number for a new(ish) brand’s inaugural outing at Only Watch, the Genta name still has cachet and Mickey Mouse is an even bigger draw. Gérald Genta watches with Disney characters on the secondary market sell for multiples of the equivalent models without any cartoon decor. And then there’s the fact that Gérald Genta is now owned by the biggest luxury goods brand in the world, which will be yet another boost.
The dial is champlevé enamel and portrays a smiling Mickey Mouse holding a birthday cake, a motif that commemorates two events: the centennial of the Walt Disney Company and the 50th anniversary of Gérald Genta’s first-ever watch. As is tradition for Gérald Genta, one of Mickey’s arms is the retrograde minute hand, which hours are indicated in a window at three.
The octagonal case is 18k white gold and measures 40 mm with a height of 10.96 mm, making it substantially larger than the 1990s originals that were most 36 mm or so, but still elegantly thin. The case retains the stepped bezel that characterise some of the original Success cases, but adds stepped lugs that echo the bezel design.
Positioned at the three o’clock position is the crown for time-setting that’s topped with a red ruby cabochon. And at at the nine o’clock position is the pusher that activates the minute repeater.
Powering the watch is the manually-wound GG-001 designed by LFT’s chief watchmakers, Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini, both of whom worked at Gérald Genta during its 1990s heyday.
The architecture of the movement draws on the familiar LFT calibre that’s been used by a range of brands from Louis Vuitton to Laurent Ferrier. Here it’s been modified to incorporate the jump hour and retrograde minutes on top of the minute repeater.
Revamping the movement to add the jump hours and retrograde display is more complex than it sounds. This is particularly in relation to preventing damage to the mechanism if the time is inadvertently adjusted while the repeater is chiming. The retrograde minute hand is also dampened so its returns to zero in a gradual manner at the top of every hour.
Key facts and price
Gérald Genta Only Watch 2023
Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 10.96 mm
Material: White gold
Water resistance: 50 m
Functions: Two-hammer minute repeater, jumping hours and retrograde minutes
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hours (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 80 hours
Strap: Rubber strap with pin buckle
Limited edition: Piece unique
Availability: To be sold at Only Watch on November 5, 2023
Estimte: CHF350,000 – CHF500,000
For more information, visit Onlywatch.com.
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