It takes a lot of pluck to establish a watch brand on one design alone. There again, if the design is by Gerald Genta, one of the most acclaimed and prolific watch designers of our time, things are a little different. Just think about Audemars Piguet’s success riding on the back of Genta’s indestructible 1972 design for the Royal Oak or Patek Philippe’s successful run with the Nautilus. Gerald Charles, the brand founded by the late Gerald Genta in 2000, revolves exclusively around the Maestro, a flamboyant case design that returns today in two ultra-thin rose gold models with royal blue sunburst dials and a matching rubber strap. Another novelty is the incorporation of the hexagonal-shaped oscillating weight first appearing on the Maestro 8.0 Squelette, a feature that will be integrated into all new Gerald Charles watches.
It can be confusing, but Gerald Charles, the brand, was created by acclaimed watch designer Gerald Charles Genta (1931-2011). Having produced icons for countless brands during his prolific career, Gerald Genta pursued his own watch brand in parallel in 2000, which he christened ‘Gerald Charles’. After selling the company in 2003, he stayed on as head designer until his death in 2011. One of his designs for Gerald Charles was the Maestro. Described as an “asymmetric polygon with smooth edges”, the Maestro was the design that Federico Ziviani, general manager of Gerald Charles, selected to mark the rebirth of the brand in 2020.
The unique case architecture of the Maestro, inspired by Rome’s ornate Baroque architecture, might seem an anomaly in Gerald Genta’s trajectory of luxury sports watches. Well, the surprising fact of this idiosyncratic design, which cannot be confused with anything else on the market, is that it ticks all the boxes of a luxury sports watch: it has a shaped case (and some!); it has an elegant thin profile; it is water-resistant to 100 metres; and it exists in stainless steel cases. The one element that some might argue is missing is the integrated metal bracelet. To date, the Maestro has appeared in chronograph and time-and-date versions and recently in a skeletonised model designed by Octavio Garcia.
Despite the complex set of letters and numbers accompanying the time-and-date (ref. Maestro GC2.0 Ultra-Thin, Ref. GC2.0-RG-01) and chronograph (ref. Maestro GC3.0 Chronograph, Ref. GC3.0-RG-01) models launching today, the specifications are identical to existing models. The novelty is the attractive royal blue dial and matching royal blue vulcanised rubber straps with pyramid decorations (Clous de Paris) combined with an 18k rose gold pin buckle.
Admittedly, the rich royal blue and gleaming rose gold cases give the Maestro an even more regal temperament. Describing the curvy, almost playful architecture of the case is like describing a piece of Baroque architecture with its curvaceous swirls and flowing lines suggesting motion. Viewed from the side, you can appreciate the double-tiered case with its rounded profile forming the 39mm x 41.7mm case that is forged from eight pieces of solid 18k rose gold. The concave depression on the lower half of the case, known as the ‘smile, is said to be inspired by the leading proponent of Roman Baroque architecture, Francesco Borromini.
As mentioned, the case measurements for both models are identical (39mm diameter x 41.7mm length). Taking into account the powerful architecture of the case, the slim height of just 8.7mm comes as a welcome surprise. And although it might look more like a dress watch, it features a screw-down crown and is water-resistant to 100 metres. The attractive royal blue dial has a sunburst finish and features a white railway minute track following the asymmetric contours of the case. The applied oval and round rose gold hour markers and baton-style hour and minute hands are treated with Super-LumiNova, and the date window at 6 o’clock is framed in gold.
A sapphire crystal porthole on the caseback reserves another treat in the form of a hexagonal-shaped rotor, the same one that appeared on the Maestro 8.0 Squelette. Designed by Octavio Garcia and produced by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, the rotor will now appear inside all new Gerald Charles watches.
The Maestro Ultra-Thin is fitted with a high-end, ultra-slim Swiss movement made by Vaucher with a height of just 3.7mm. An automatic beating at 4Hz, the calibre GCA 3002 has twin barrels that ensure a comfortable 50-hour power reserve. The movement is equipped with an anti-shock Incabloc® system and stop-seconds. Powered by the new bidirectional openworked rose gold rotor, the movement showcases handmade Fleurier standard finishings, like the Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges.
Quick facts: 39mm diameter x 41mm length x 8.7mm height – 18k rose gold, polished – screw-down rose gold crown – 100m water-resistance – sunburst royal blue dial – applied indices and hands treated with Super-LumiNova – date at 6 o’clock – calibre GCA 3002 (Vaucher) automatic – 23.3mm x 3.7mm – 50h power reserve – royal blue vulcanised rubber strap with Clous de Paris decoration and 18k rose gold pin buckle – ref. Maestro GC2.0 Ultra-Thin, Ref. GC2.0-RG-01 – EUR 32,000 or CHF 30,800
Sharing the same diameter and length as the simpler time-and-date model, the Maestro chronograph also has a slim height of just 11.50mm. The luxurious18k rose gold case is brightly polished to play with the light, and the chronograph pushers are angled and rounded to follow the intricate case design. In keeping with its luxury sports watch character, the case is water-resistant to 100 metres (Gerald Genta’s original 2006 chronograph was only water-resistant to 30m). In addition to the screw-down crown and calibrated sapphire crystal, the chronograph shares the bespoke gasket design first seen on the Master Premier Edition 2021 watches. This gasket seals the irregular-shaped case and crystal, ensuring the watch’s safety underwater.
In line with the curvaceous architecture of the case, the dial avoids any right angles or square shapes. The white minutes/seconds track adapts to the wavy contours, and the indices are oval-shaped. Like the round-tipped hour and minute hands, the indices are also treated with luminescent material. The three sub-dials at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock have a round frame, a snailed outer track and clear white markings.
The royal blue strap is a technical vulcanised form of rubber chosen for its superior water-resistance, durability and comfort; it is embossed with Clous de Paris or pyramid shapes, echoing the ones on the crown.
The base movement is made by Vaucher, the prestigious Swiss manufacture of high-end mechanical movements and is customised exclusively for Gerald Charles. Just 6.07mm thick, the thin movement relies on twin barrels to deliver a more consistent energy supply to the regulating organ. The new rotor design by Octavio Garcia, which runs on ceramic ball bearings, delivers a 50-hour power reserve. The balance is of the variable-inertia kind, meaning that it can be adjusted with the weights located on the spokes of the balance wheel. The anti-glare sapphire crystal porthole offers a view of the mechanics and handmade Fleurier-standard finishings.
Quick facts: 39mm diameter x 41.5mm length x 11.50mm height – 18k rose gold, polished – sapphire crystal front and back – screw-down crown – 100m water-resistance – sunburst royal blue dial – applied indices and hands treated with Super-LumiNova – calibre GCA 3002 (Vaucher)automatic – 6.07mm thickness – 50h power reserve – royal blue vulcanised rubber with Clous de Paris decoration and 18k rose gold pin buckle – ref. Maestro GC3.0 Chronograph, Ref. GC3.0-RG-01 – EUR 39,000 or CHF 37,600
More information at Gerald Charles.com.