The mission of Gerald Charles, an independent family-owned watch company based in Lugano, is to perpetuate the legend of the late Gerald (Charles) Genta, the foremost watch designer of the 20th century. With a portfolio of watches built around an extravagant Genta case design known as Maestro, the brand launches the Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette, a skeletonised version of the watch designed by Octavio Garcia – ex-artistic director of Audemars Piguet and founder of Gorilla Watches. The choice of Garcia was surely intentional, given that Gerald Genta’s meteoric career took off with a watch design he made for Audemars Piguet in 1972 that is now more popular than ever.
Gerald Charles Genta (1931-2011) was the brainchild behind the luxury sports watch. Following a renewed and highly successful design for Omega’s Constellation watch in 1959, Gerald Genta’s design career took off. Icons like the AP Royal Oak, the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the IWC Ingenieur, the Bvlgari-Bvlgari and the redesigned Cartier Pasha consolidated his ascent during the 1970s and 1980s. In 2000, Genta sold his brand to Bvlgari but pursued his own watch brand in parallel under the name Gerald Charles. Following his death, a member of the Ziviani family (which had backed the creation of the Gerald Charles brand in 2000) set about resurrecting an idiosyncratic 2006 Genta design nicknamed Maestro, the name used by colleagues to address the legendary designer.
The directives given by CEO Federico Ziviani to Octavio Garcia were “to respect the foundation put in place by Mr Gerald Genta while projecting the brand into the future”. However, skeletonising a round movement is one thing; skeletonising a movement in such an unusual case as the Maestro was challenging, as Garcia admits. The unique case architecture of the Maestro was inspired by the ornate architecture of Rome’s famous baroque architect Francesco Borromini.
Measuring 39mm across with a length of 41mm and a height of 8.35mm, the stainless steel case has a rounded octagonal shape with a pronounced double bezel. The lower half of the case reveals the curious indentation inspired by Borromini’s architecture that is often referred to as a ‘smile’. The imposing tiered architecture of the case is composed of 18 separate components and is mirror-polished throughout. The screw-down crown, with its clous de Paris (hobnail) decoration, ensures the 100m water-resistance of the case, an impressive feat given the slimness of the case and the irregular-shaped sapphire crystal protecting the movement.
One advantage for Garcia in designing the skeletonised version of the Maestro was the fact that he worked hand-in-hand with Vaucher to develop the proprietary automatic GCA 5482 calibre. This allowed him to gauge which areas could be skeletonised functionally and which could be given over to his own aesthetic interpretation.
Garcia chose a “celestial sky chart” theme with a strong focus on contrasting finishings to allow “the gold elements to really flare against the rhodium and deep anthracite of the NAC-treated components”. The dial side reveals the first layer of NAC-coated openworked bridges with a satin-brushed finish, exposing almost all the moving parts of the automatic movement.
On the Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette, the rehaut or flange bears the minutes track and is secured to the plate with nine star-shaped screws that were designed specifically for this project. Contrasting with the darker NAC-treated bridges are the rhodium-plated bridges, the brass gear train and the star-shaped gold micro-rotor that can be clearly seen in the openings from 9 to 12 o’clock. All the angles, bevels and apertures are polished by hand, and the wheels are decorated with circular graining on their surface. In keeping with the sporty attributes of the watch, the short baton hour and minute hands are treated with Super-Luminova, and the watch comes on a black vulcanised rubber strap with an embossed hobnail pattern (photographed on Robin’s 19cm wrist) matching the crown.
Vaucher Calibre GCA 5482
The reverse side of the watch reveals an unimpeded view of the solid gold micro-rotor running on ceramic bearings with its brushed hexagonal shapes and interlocking GC logo in relief and sandblasted base. You can also appreciate more details of the balance under the elegant bridges. Designed in tandem with Garcia, the 160-part Vaucher GCA 5482 calibre can be used as a base for future complications. Just 2.6mm high, the movement delivers a robust 50-hour power reserve.
Availability and Price
The Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette is not a limited edition but limited to the brand’s production capacity of 100 pieces a year. The price is CHF 55,800 or EUR 58,000.
For more information, please visit Gerald Charles.com.