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Gérald Genta Jewelry

Swiss, 1931-2011

It’s safe to say that Gérald Genta radically changed contemporary watchmaking. As a designer and engineer, he transformed both the overall appearance of timepieces and how they function. He’s also one of the few watchmakers whose creations for brands other than his own earned him worldwide acclaim.

Born in Geneva, the capital of the Swiss watch industry, Gérald Charles Genta was hired by watch manufacturer Universal Genève at the age of 20 after finishing his training as a jewelry goldsmith. That his career would be in horology was pretty much set in stone when at 23 years old he was assigned to create a timepiece for Scandinavian Airline Systems (SAS) to celebrate its inaugural flight from Copenhagen to Los Angeles via the North Pole. The first models of the watch, named the Polerouter, were given to the cabin crew upon landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

In the late 1950s and early ’60s, Genta worked for Omega on its line of Constellation watches, which further cemented his position as a star designer. In 1958, his relationship with Patek Philippe began with the Golden Ellipse, whose oval case was a stylish departure from the house’s more serious, round Calatrava.

Genta created his most iconic designs in the 1970s — a difficult time for the Swiss watch industry, when Japanese battery-powered quartz timepieces challenged the primacy of traditional mechanical models.

The octagonal case for the Royal Oak, introduced by Audemars Piguet in 1972 and perhaps Genta’s best-known creation, was based on vintage diving helmets that attached to the rest of the suit with screws. Genta had a thing for screws, and the Royal Oak had eight of them arranged in a symmetrical pattern on the bezel. The design marked the first time stainless steel was used for a luxury sports watch, kicking off the now ubiquitous trend for sports-chic stainless-steel timepieces with steel integrated bracelets — metal watch bands designed to fit seamlessly, in terms of both aesthetics and function, with the case.

In addition to devising the Royal Oak and the Nautilus during this period, Genta famously redesigned IWC’s Ingenieur in 1976, adding five screws to the bezel in an asymmetrical pattern.

In 1977, he created the Bvlgari Bvlgari, based on a Roman coin, and later, an updated version of the Pasha de Cartier, originally designed in 1931 by Louis Cartier as a one-off for the pasha of Marrakech. Genta reconceived the piece as a luxury sports watch with a round case that distinguished it from other Cartier watches, like the Tank and the Baignoire.

He and his wife, Evelyne Genta, formed their own firm in 1969, producing haute timepieces for private clients, who included royalty, like Great Britain’s Queen Mother and the sultans of Brunei and Oman, in addition to business magnates, sports figures and entertainers.

“It was an unusual brand, doing mostly prototypes,” recounted Evelyne. “His passion was creating a new watch every day. He expressed himself as he wanted.”

Even after Bvlgari acquired Genta’s firm, in 2000, he continued making watches under the name Gérald Charles. However, despite his enviably long run and the indelible mark he made on every facet of watchmaking, Genta will always be best remembered for popularizing the steel sports watch.

Find vintage Gérald Genta watches on 1stDibs.

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Creator: Gérald Genta
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Gérald Genta jewelry & watches for sale on 1stDibs.

Find a range of Gérald Genta jewelry & watches available on 1stDibs. Each of these unique items was designed with extraordinary care, often using gold. While looking for the most stylish antique or vintage Gérald Genta jewelry to pair with your ensemble, you’ll find that Gérald Genta diamond jewelry & watches, from our inventory of 5, can add a particularly distinctive touch to your look. We have 15 pieces in this collection as well as a number of other designs by this jeweler. While this collection reflects work that originated over various time periods, most of these items were designed during the 21st century and contemporary. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider jewelry & watches by Roger Dubuis, Heuer, and Philip Stein. Prices for Gérald Genta jewelry & watches can differ depending upon gemstone, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $3,000 and tops out at $500,000, while pieces like these, on average, can sell for $8,004.

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