One of the most illustrious names of modern watchmaking, a genius of design who’s been behind the creation of icons such as the Royal Oak, the Nautilus and many more, Gérald Genta is renowned as an important brand in the watchmaking industry. Together with Daniel Roth, Genta is regarded as one of the pioneers of independent watchmaking following the resurrection of mechanical watchmaking back in the 1980s. Slightly dormant for a couple of decades, Gérald Genta is now back as a stand-alone brand. And while we teased this important piece of news a couple of days ago, it is now official.
About a month ago, the LVMH Group, under the umbrella of Louis Vuitton’s haute horlogerie division La Fabrique du Temps (LFT), announced the return of Daniel Roth, which had been in the hands of its brand Bulgari. There was another brand owned by the Italian watchmaker/jeweller, which is probably one of the most respected and coveted names in the industry, Gérald Genta. And yes, in the same vein as Daniel Roth, Genta will be revived at Louis Vuitton’s High Watchmaking atelier, La Fabrique du Temps, under the aegis of master watchmakers Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini, with the blessing and cooperation of Evelyne Genta.
Gerald Genta’s career took two paths: as an external designer for established brands and as a founder of his eponymous watch brand. First and foremost, Genta’s role as the designer of emblematic watches, such as the Universal Geneve Polerouter, the 1959 Omega Constellation collection, the 1972 Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet, the porthole-inspired Patek Philippe Nautilus, the IWC Ingenieur SL Jumbo, and the Bulgari Roma. Then, there’s the name Gérald Genta as a watchmaking company. Genta created a brand that would become one of the early pioneers of post-quartz high-complication watchmaking. Developed with the complicity of master watchmaker Pierre-Michel Golay, his first skeletonised self-winding minute repeater wristwatch appeared in 1980. Then in 1994, he released the most elaborate wristwatch with Grande Sonnerie and, of course, the surprising Disney watches. He also manufactured complicated movements for other brands, including minute repeater and perpetual calendar calibres for the Cartier Pasha. The brand was sold to the Hour Glass (a Singapore-based retailer, also the owner of Roth) in 1996. In 2000, Bulgari acquired the name and manufacture – which sporadically produced Genta models, including the recent series of Mickey Mouse watches.
Now, just like Daniel Roth, the name Gérald Genta has been taken out of Bulgari’s hands. LVMH – under the guidance of owner Bernard Arnault and his son Jean Arnault – has decided to revive the brand thanks to la Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton and its founders Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini. Production is to be concentrated on high complications made in small quantities. Evelyne Genta, Gérald’s widow and business partner, has blessed the project and allowed La Fabrique du Temps full access to her late husband’s archives, including hundreds of designs that were never realised. Finally, and importantly, it is worth pointing out that Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini bring the unique experience of having worked together for Gérald Genta during the 1980s and 1990s, overseeing the minute repeater, tourbillon, and high complications workshops.
For now, no word has been given regarding the style of the watches and the complications that will be presented, but the first models should be unveiled in early 2024. For more details, keep an eye on geraldgenta.com.