It has become clear that Only Watch, the charitable organisation created in 2005 by Luc Pettavino under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II, which brings together the entire watch industry to raise funds for research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, is having greater and greater importance. Besides the charitable aspect, it’s also a vessel for brands’ creativity and a tool to unveil upcoming releases. Case in point, Gérald Genta, which was recently announced to be revived under the umbrella of La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton. And the first watch to be introduced as part of this next chapter in the brand’s history is this Unique Gérald Genta Only Watch 2023, a watch that combines a playful design, a creative display, daring looks and mechanical marvels.
For its return and its very first participation in Only Watch, the Gérald Genta Maison, which is now under the control of Louis Vuitton, through its Haute Horlogerie atelier La Fabrique Du Temps (with Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini behind the wheel), is unveiling a watch that feels appropriate and worthy of the name printed on its dial. Monsieur Genta, one of the greatest watch designers of all time, not only created some of the most iconic watches around but also had multiple ideas for timepieces under his own name. The man was bold enough to combine cartoon characters with high-complication watchmaking from 1984 onwards. And part of this concept was the now-famous Mickey Mouse watches.
The Gérald Genta Only Watch 2023 is a watch of high importance. It is celebrating Disney’s 100th anniversary as well as the 50th anniversary of the Maestro’s first watch under his own name in 1973. But mostly, this is the first creation of the brand as we know it now, with LFT and Vuitton over it. The result is a watch that has all the attributes of Genta – a joyful Mickey Mouse, a signature display, a complex, geometrical case and an Haute Horlogerie movement with more than just time indications.
What sets this new model apart is the combination of a display using jumping hours and retrograde minutes (classic of Genta’s cartoon-themed watches) with a minute repeater. And when you know how a minute repeater works, meaning a mechanism that reads or senses the time thanks to a series of cams and feelers, combining it with a complex display with jumping and retrograde indications is not a small achievement. This combination is rare in watchmaking, and having two separate time calculation systems (one for the striking mechanism and one for the jumping hours) that are synchronised, accurate and energy-efficient is challenging. For that, Navas and Barbasini, who have worked with Pierre-Michel Golay (the master watchmaker with Genta), have crafted a system that assures perfect synchronicity between the time shown and the time struck.
This system is housed in a hand-wound movement with a solid 80-hour power reserve, beating at 3Hz and that strikes the time with two hammers. The movement isn’t yet finalized, but the drawings above will give an idea of what to expect… High-end watchmaking, no doubt.
The Gérald Genta Only Watch 2023 launches with a new octagonal case crafted in white gold, measuring 40mm from 3 to 9 o’clock, with a reasonable height of less than 11mm and a very respectable 50m water-resistance. It features a crown at 3 o’clock and a symmetrical pusher at 9 o’clock to activate the repeater mechanism. The dial, in addition to its signature jumping and retrograde display, is also notable for its execution. It has been enamelled in-house by Nicolas Doublel with a champlevé technique and depicts a joyful Mickey Mouse that is there to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
The Mickey-themed Gérald Genta Only Watch 2023 was specially crafted for the charity sale and will be auctioned in Geneva on November 5th 2023. It carries an estimate of CHF 350,000 – 500,000. And without a doubt, it shows the direction of future models to come from Genta, a combination of daring designs and complex movements. For more details, please visit www.geraldgenta.com and www.onlywatch.com.