Gerald Genta's Works - Royal Oak, Nautilus, Constellation, Credor....
I found out that some of my friends own Gerald Genta works (I, too, own some) and I thought I would borrow them and do some research for the story behind them..... This article is in cooperation with Chronos Japan with permission to publish here.
Group shot - wish I could have borrowed Nautilus, too!
Gerald Genta died on August 18, 2011, at the age of 80. He is really one of the best known watch designers, if not THE best, who created a lot of iconic pieces for more than a half century.
Why BVLGARI erased his name from its history is anybody's guess.
1972 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Royal Oak was made into production from a single design sketch provided by Genta in 1970. Mr. Jacque Luis Audemar, from the founding family, was appalled when he saw the design for the first time, it is said. But in the end, the contract was signed. The design sketch was done in just one day, but there were lots of discussion between Genta and AP before that.
1976 Patek Philippe Nautilus
No need to talk much about this (and I could not borrow one for photo shoot). The design sketch was done in 1974. How the bezel is attached to the body is different from the actual product - the sketch shows screw-in from the sides, while the product did not have them. Also the design sketch had the logo "Gerald Genta" - he finished the complete prototype at the brand new atelier in La Brassus, so he must have wanted to have his name on it.
Prior to those super famous models....
Omega Constellation "C-Line"
First came out in 1962, so-called "C-Line". Constellation 168.029
One of the first products of Gerald Genta who started his activity as a watch designer around 1954 (official record says 1961, though). Integrating the case and lugs and making the bezel lower - the approach affected many brands during 60s. But it may be Genta himself who liked this design most - he used this design again and again - in SeaMaster Polaris in 82 and Renaissance by Gerald Charles in 2001.
Notice the curvy profile. Caliber inside is 4.5mm thickness and not considered so thin, but by keeping the case side low, it wouldn't let it feel as thick as it really is.
The motif of this design is, as he himself admitted later, Rolex Oyster (the bubble back in 1931), "I really wanted to be involved in the design of Rolex Oyster of 1931". It had to wait until Royal Oak in 1972 that Genta did all the design, but the case design of this C-Line must let the people feel "Genta". Genta achieved the "soft and ergonomic" with this C-Line and then late 60s, he used the concept for the thin watches and became the star of the watch design later.
Omega Constellation "Pie-Pan" dial. 167.005
There are many Constellation and there are many Pie-Pan dial - but it is generally considered that Genta was involved in the design to some extent, especially this type of index bar.
SEIKO Credor "Locomotive", KEH018
The actual model bracelet is not as "3D" as this design sketch.
One of the brands that valued highly Genta's design was SEIKO. SEIKO placed many orders of OEM products to Gerald Genta SA established in 1969 and in late 70s, it even asked for the design for the highest lines - the best one must be this Credor "Locomotive". Royal Oak which took motif from the battleship's port hole, Nautilus which took the idea from the submarines, and this one took the motif from the locomotive.
Needless to say and easy to imagine, when Genta took order to design this Locomotive, the Swiss watch industry bashed Genta - of course, at the time, Japan was the bad guy who almost destroyed the industry by the quartz watches. But it is also true that by working with SEIKO, Genta earned enough money to build a brand new factory.
Later Genta admitted that the models which brought him the fame were almost all "buy the design" - "watch designer" was still relatively an unknown profession and there was no concept of "royalty" design business. During such time, it seems that SEIKO was relatively a generous patron who paid him enough to expand his business.
According to his own book about the watch design, Royal Oak, Nautilus, and this Locomotive are shown side by side. Locomotive is not as "perfect" as the other two predecessors, but it must be one of the most memorable work for him.
Comparison between AP 5402ST and Credor Locomotive.
Clearly, Credor is designed as "dressy" watch as its brand philosophy and made smaller with Japanese market only in mind. But, the crown position at 4h sort of makes you think it is in fact a "dressy sports" watch. AP Royal Oak is of course dressy/ sports watch as well. Notice the hexagonal screw head on the bezel.
Even the crown head is hexagonal.
Similar to C-Line, this uses the screw back to make it look thinner - but unlike other Genta design, whole watch is compressed and make it look thin.
Perfectly flat and thin AP Royal Oak, but sometimes the extended lug design makes it hard to fit for the small wrists.
The bracelet is as well made as Royal Oak.
Even the link is hexagonal (Credor Locomotive).
Very comfortable as well.
Slight difference is the way the buckle cover opens.
Credor Locomotive (no logo on the cover)....
... and Royal Oak...
I still miss this great designer... probably missed forever.....
Thank you, Chronos Japan.