Is Genta Design Really Worth the Hype?
In a short answer, yes. It’s worth every penny. For some of the new watch geeks out there wondering just who is this Gerald Genta character that you’ve undoubtedly heard so much about, he is the man who saved Swiss watchmaking as we know it today. He single-handedly redefined the way the world looks at luxury watches.
The quartz crisis of the 1970’s threatened the viability of many traditional watchmakers. Compared to the classic design, quartz watches were considerably more affordable to produce and far more accurate timekeepers. So the world began to ask, why was there a need for watches that one had to wind and maintain when they could get something that performed better and was both less expensive and more convenient? The Swiss watch industry was thrown into an uproar as sales began to plummet at alarming rates. In a last-ditch effort to save itself, Audemars Piguet sought out the help of young upcoming designer Gerald Genta. It took almost no time at all for Genta to present the initial idea for the Royal Oak. And from that moment, the watch world has never been the same.
With the breakout success of the Royal Oak, it is easy to forget that Genta designed other incredible pieces as well. Watches like the Patek Philippe Nautilus, Universal Genève Polerouter, IWC Ingenieur, Omega Constellation, and the Bulgari Bulgari are a few more examples of genius Genta design.
One particular feature ties all of Genta’s pieces together and makes a “Genta” watch: the porthole-inspired design. Genta was heavily influenced by ships and the sea, which can be very clearly seen in the Nautilus. Apart from the name, the case layout very much resembles the illusion of looking through a ship’s porthole. With the addition of the “ears” on both ends of the watch, it looks as though it could swing right open at any time. This, as well as the iconic integrated bracelet found in many of his designs, gives the watch a very sporty and capable look.
Another iconic design element employed by Gerald Genta in many of his pieces was the use of integrated bracelet. This provided them with the tool-tastic look that would make them appropriate with jeans and a t-shirt on a cool summer day as well as with a suit and tie in a boardroom meeting. On the Royal Oak, for example, this feature is probably one of the most important elements. Some argue that without the bracelet, the watch isn't truly a Royal Oak. In fact, the bracelet is so much the charm of this piece.
Ultimately the question remains: is Gerald Genta’s design worth the premium that it often demands? Are the design and beveled edges really worth a sometimes five digit premium? The history and importance of the pieces associated with his name are indeed significant and impressive. However, at the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In my eyes it doesn't get any better.
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