Founded by legendary designer Gérald Genta, the independent watchmaker known as Gerald Charles is the perpetuation of his legacy and a continuation of his designs. Lately, the brand’s portfolio has grown quite dramatically, with all watches built around a signature, highly original yet quite elegant design known as the Maestro (yes, shaped by Mr Genta himself back when he was still alive). This shape has been revived in a watch featuring an airy, openworked movement with the Maestro 8.0 Squelette, helped by another influential designer, Octavio Garcia. And today, it’s back in a series of four limited editions with appealing gem-set bezels.
We reviewed the classic Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette when it was launched, but just in case, here’s a quick reminder. The Maestro case was the brainchild of Gérald Charles Genta (1931-2011), who designed this shape in 2006 after he sold his eponymous company to Bulgari and re-launched a watchmaking venture under the name Gerald Charles. This highly original shape, composed of straight lines and multiple curves, has been at the centre of the entire collection created by the current brand CEO, Federico Ziviani. We’ve seen it in various iterations, such as a time-and-date watch, a chronograph or even a sporty titanium “destro” model.
Earlier this year, Ziviani teamed up with another important designer, whose destiny is curiously related to that of Genta: Octavio Garcia. The ex-artistic director of Audemars Piguet and founder of Gorilla Watches, Garcia has worked on countless Royal Oak watches (another of Genta’s creations). Let’s say that the choice of this designer was intentional. The mission of Federico Ziviani to hire Garcia was to design a skeleton watch based on the Maestro concept. Which, of course, involved complex work to balance the different shapes.
The result is the Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette, which was first seen in a stainless steel edition here. Now, it returns with precious stones on the bezel and some touches of colour. The basics are identical for these new limited editions: a 39mm x 41mm Maestro case in mirror-polished surgical-grade stainless steel with a very pleasant thinness of 8.35mm. The rounded octagonal shape with a pronounced double bezel, as well as the lower half of the case with its signature “smile” is composed of 18 parts. Sapphire crystals are found on both sides, and thanks to a screw-down crown, the Maestro 8.0 Squelette has a respectable 100m water-resistance.
What’s new, then? Well, obviously, the stones. The bezel is crafted from 18k white gold and features 66 baguette-cut stones (about 2.5 carats). Four editions are available: diamonds with a black strap, blue sapphires with a blue strap, rubies with a red strap and emeralds with a green strap. Usually, I’m not a fan of gem-set watches. However, I have to say that in the context of this complex case, with its thin line of graphic-styled baguette stones, the whole thing is rather expressive, balanced and attractive. It adds style and interest to the watch without denaturing its overall design.
Inside the case is a proprietary movement made by Vaucher manufacture with an openworked, automatic micro-rotor engine that has been custom-designed for Gerald Charles. This movement is thin, open, and flows nicely with the rest of the exterior design. The bridges are dark NAC-coated, contrasting with the various rhodium-plated and golden elements. Just 2.6mm high, the movement delivers a robust 50-hour power reserve thanks to its solid gold micro-rotor.
Worn on a matching vulcanised rubber strap with a hobnail pattern, each of these four new Gerald Charles Maestro 8.0 Squelette Gem-Set watches is a limited edition of 10 pieces. Available exclusively from the brand and on-demand, the price is “upon request” (keep in mind that the classic steel version was priced at CHF 55,800). For more details and orders, please visit www.geraldcharles.com.